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Catch Public Transport! A Hidden Gem for Heightened Productivity

Catch Public Transport! A Hidden Gem for Heightened Productivity
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Something amazing has happened to me recently: my productivity has gone through the roof! I’ve been able to get so much more done this year in a much shorter time frame than I have ever experienced before. Even more beautiful, I have rediscovered my love for some things that I had previously neglected and have incorporated them back into my life.

So, what has actually changed in my life?

I now catch public transport.

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The Opportunity to Get More Done

Most people I know speak poorly of public transport systems (and heck, I was one of them!). There are long delays, crowded services, and when they’re quite expensive to catch, what is there to like about it? Yet my perception of public transport has been flipped: I now love it. I see it as an opportunity; an opportunity to get things done that I wouldn’t normally be able to get done!

To make a living for the past 6 years I have had to drive to the locations where I needed to be. Driving is great—it’s relaxing, I can listen to music, and it’s fast. However, it also means I’m not really productive during this time, and when and hour is spent driving to and from a destination, it really does become a waste of time.

Now I catch public transport to where I need to go. I made the conscious decision to do this as it dawned on me that it is actually the perfect opportunity to get more done.

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Reading is Not Just Reading

Public transport has enabled me to focus my time on some of things I have previously neglected. In previous years, I would read about 2 books a year (if that). Now, we are about 9 weeks into the new year and I have already read 5 books!

Rediscovering my passion for reading has helped motivate me to do more of the things I want to do. I am currently reading Richard Branson’s Let’s Not Screw It, Let’s Just Do It and it’s phenomenal just how motivating a book can be. Just reading this book switches my brain on and gets me to start taking more life-changing action. So, not only am I being more productive on public transport, I’m also seeing longer-term effects stem from it that span into other areas of my life.

Get Your Work Done

…like writing this post. Previously I would write all my articles at home in the comfort of my study. This can tend to have a more relaxing effect on me, where I can also get distracted easy. Now that I am on public transport, I also write my articles here. With time pressures (about 20 minutes to most venues), I think fast and get my fingers working as I try to get through as much as possible. I wrote about 400 words of this post in one 20-minute trip (this article is approximately 600 words long).

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I’ve also found that it’s also a great way to quickly catch up on emails prior to getting to work for the day. Utilising my blackberry, I can quickly and easily bring myself back up to speed prior to the day’s events.

The Added Bonus

I’ve only been taking public transport for about 2 months, but I can say that I’m absolutely loving it. The added bonus is that I am actually saving a significant amount of money by not driving my car (costs for tolls and petrol add up pretty fast!).

This is just the beginning of something great. I can feel it. I hope you can start making the most of the environment around you to become more productive, and I look forward to you joining me in what is going to be an amazing year.

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Brendan

More by this author

Brendan Baker

Brendan helps people who feel stuck doing work they don't like start to make a difference and an income doing what they love.

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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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