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How to Be a Productive Passenger

How to Be a Productive Passenger
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Do you find yourself stuck in a car as a passenger for long drives with nothing to do? The driver is occupied, and often the passengers can find themselves at loose ends.

We are going to solve this dilemma once and for all today with suggestions for how you can use your time more productively as a passenger to get work done. First off, if your driver needs navigation help or has questions they are always your first priority, especially if you are in the front passenger seat.

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These tips are also useful for those who are passengers in a plane, train or bus.

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Be a More Productive Passenger by Getting Work Done in the Car

There are a lot of options for fun, productive activities, but we are going to focus here on getting work done. Here are a few ways to be a productive passenger as someone with an online business and little to no wifi access on the road:

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  • Write articles either on your iPad, laptop or using a Livescribe pen (my favorite). Writing articles while a passenger is one of my favorite uses of car time.
  • Brainstorm with Mindmeister on an iPad, or simply with a pen and paper. Topics to brainstorm about: think about where your business is going in the next few years, map out a new product idea, or come up with article ideas.
  • Record a video for visitors to your website or social media hangouts. Use the new Instagram Video for short messages and upload them immediately or record longer messages with SocialCam or iMovie.
  • Edit videos on your laptop and prepare them to upload when you have wifi access again.
  • Create Infographics or other photos messages to share with your readers or on social media.
  • Watch training videos – I bet you are like me and there are a lot of things you want to learn more about in order to grow your business, but it can be hard to find time to watch all of this material. Watch videos on your iPad or laptop, be sure to use a headset out of consideration for your driver, and consider speeding up the playback with eNounce (laptop) or Swift (iPad).
  • Read training material – I save small eBooks and pdfs of training material to Evernote to a Notebook that I make sure is fully downloaded on my iPad for offline access. These notes are great reading while on the road. Alternately, save them to your Kindle or your computer’s hard drive.
  • Take notes while you learn – I use a Livescribe (Sky) pen and notebook to take notes while I read or watch training material. This way I can also write ideas on how I can personally use the information and with the Sky pen it will upload those notes automatically to Evernote when I am back on my home wifi network. You can also simply use a pen and paper.
  • Assess where you are – Look back at the goals you have for your business. Are you on track to reaching them, or have you gotten derailed by shiny objects? Use some of your time as a productive passenger to assess your position.
  • Make a strategic plan – If your goals aren’t clear, define them now. Write them down and be sure you put them in a place where you can easily access them and see them often. Start making a plan to reach those goals.
  • Write your to do lists – Write out your general “need to do” list for the next 6 months, 3 months, 1 month, and for the coming week. Use these lists to reference your daily to-do list against—are you doing the activities today that will help you reach those larger to-dos? Don’t forget to make sure your to-dos are in line with your business goals.

Do you have a favorite way to be a productive passenger that wasn’t covered above? Be sure to share it with us in the comments below.

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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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