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How to Be a Productive Passenger

How to Be a Productive Passenger

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 13, 2020

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed and exhausted.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm; leaving you calmer, in control and a lot less stressed.

1. Write Everything down to Offload Your Mind

The first thing you can do when you begin to feel overwhelmed is to write everything down that is on your mind.

Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s on your mind.

For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind”.

The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will begin the process of removing your feeling of overwhelm. Writing things down can really change your life.

2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

Once you have ‘emptied your head,’ go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

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As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. Here’s How to Cultivate a More Meaningful To Do List.

3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

Now here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and us humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take:((Odhable: Genesis of Parkinson’s Law))

    This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad but they stick to the belief it will only take thirty minutes. It’s more wishful thinking than good judgment.

    We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage. If you have estimated that to write five emails that desperately need a reply to be ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

    Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is you put yourself under a little time pressure and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

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    When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time and so it plays tricks on us and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our colleagues to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

    Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening and we get more focused and more work done.

    4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

    Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos. Go through your to-dos and schedule time on your calendar for doing those tasks. Group tasks up into similar tasks.

    For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

    Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

    5. Make Decisions

    For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

    If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

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    If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss, a colleague and get advice.

    Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. You need to make a decision to deal with it and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved. (You can take a look at this guide on How To Make Good Decisions All The Time.)

    I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend of mine of the problem. He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I paid a smaller amount for a couple of months.

    This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

    The first, don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second, there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

    6. Take Some Form of Action

    Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we feel overwhelmed (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

    The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

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    It also means rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible and you can make decisions easier about what to do about them. Often it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be you see you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

    Overwhelm is not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work, it can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

    The Bottom Line

    Make a decision, even if it is to just talk to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something on its own will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution one way or another.

    When you follow these strategies to can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

    More Tips for Reducing Work Stress

    Featured photo credit: Andrei Lazarev via unsplash.com

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