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7 Growth Hacks for Commuters

7 Growth Hacks for Commuters
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Commuting could be physically and mentally tiring. I can see why you and many hate being stuck on a crowded train and in slow-moving traffic. Commuting seems like a massive waste of time, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

A team from the University of the West of England suggests that multitasking can be beneficial for commuters: If you try to listen, read, brainstorm, and get things done while sitting on a train to work, you are likely to feel more worthwhile. You can also learn new things, improve your skills and grow.

Here are some tools and tips to help commuters grow while enjoying their daily travel more and more.

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1. Plan your day

Try to use your morning commute to plan the day. To-do list apps like Wunderlist and Any.do are free and can be synced across all your devices: phone, tablet, and laptop. You can sketch out your day, using your mobile phone on the train, then tick tasks off later while sitting in your office in front of your laptop. It sounds great, doesn’t it?

2. Get your dose of industry news

Keep yourself up-to-date with industry news on online magazines and blogs using Feedly. In case you want to avoid an eyestrain (or if you are driving), a tool using “text-to-speech” technology can help. Softwares like Panopreter read words, phrases, and articles, and convert them to audio files that you can listen to on the road. The technology enables multitasking and helps save time.

3. Listen to Educational Podcasts

Podcasts are a great way to expand your knowledge base. You can find free podcasts on almost every topics on the planet: from language history to money management. Use free mobile apps like Podcasts (for iOS) and Stitcher (for Android) to subscribe to your favourite podcasts, and tune in for some education time during your commute.

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4. Learn a new language

Being bilingual or multilingual opens the door to many new opportunities, from getting a better job to making new friends. Why not learn a new language using your travelling time? Duolingo is a fun and effective tool for learning language on the go. Give it a try and maybe you can have a conversation with a stranger on the train in her own language. Another option is to listen to podcasts in the language you try to learn.

5. Brainstorm ideas

This might sound strange but taking public transport can be distraction-free. There are no colleagues knocking at your door for all sorts of question. Nobody would expect you to answer emails while you are supposedly travelling. You can just turn your data off, put your headphones on and keep your head down to brainstorm the next great idea. Don’t forget to take notes because “your mind is for having ideas, not holding them” (David Allen).

Evernote (free) is a great tool for jotting down thoughts and organising them into lists. You can also tag notes, attach links and upload photos. It’s easy to share your notes with others via emails, even if they don’t use the app themselves. The app also have a recording feature, especially for the ones who think and speak much faster than type.

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If you happen to hate transcribing or are simply too busy to do it, try Dragon Dictation – a free voice transcription app that turns your thoughts into written notes.

6. Enjoy a good book

Check out Audible, seriously! They offer 30-day free trial for new users. You can also choose a free book in 180,000 audio titles. Besides, some narrators are so good that they give new life to the story.

If you prefer reading, bring a paper book with you at all times. Want to travel light? Then get a Kindle or even a Kindle app for your smart phone (iOS version vs. Android version).

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7. Play games to train your brain

It is the end of the day and you travel back home after a long day at work. I can understand if you don’t want to read any more news and if you feel too tired to learn new words or phrases in a foreign language. However, sitting still and doing nothing might just be the way to give yourself up to complete tiresomeness. Try to keep your brain active with mind-engaging, fun games from Lumosity.

I hope these tips will help you be more productive and grow with your commute. However, don’t force yourself to be on all the time. It is just not possible. Let yourself have some off days when you can sit back, take a deep breath and enjoy the ride.

Featured photo credit: Eutah Mizushima via unsplash.com

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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