Sunday, January 23, 2011

Find Lost Time

   As some of you may know, I live in Fairfax, and recently switched jobs from Reston to Rosslyn.  My former commute of half an hour by car, is now about an hour by CUE bus and Metro train, each way.  This means an extra hour out of my life each weekday.  Why, that's just got to mean a lot of lost time, doesn't it?

   Well, yes it does -- but not as much as you might think.

   For several years now, I've already been doing (and recommending) what Zig Ziglar calls "attending Automobile University".  When he first coined the phrase, it meant listening to educational tapes while driving -- later also CDs, MP3s, and nowadays podcasts.

   This can recoup some otherwise lost time... but you can't do anything (well, much anyway) with your hands or eyes while driving.  Now that I'm taking public transit, I have a bit more freedom in that regard.

   I recently bought a netbook.  (Digression: it's a used ASUS Eee PC 1005HA that a friend gave me a good deal on.  Sorry, my Mac/Linux-fan friends; it's running Windows, and I don't intend to change that -- but I may use it to replace my vintage Windows desktop box.  Now back to the main story....)

   On the bus, and on the train if I can manage to get a seat, and sometimes even while waiting, I can do pretty much anything that you can do on a computer, at least without an Internet connection.  (Yes, even goofing off.  Rather than reading all my web comics at home, or at the office, I load them up at home, and read them on the bus.)  Not all the stuff I need to do for work, but still, enough to make decent use of the time.

   But what if I can't get a seat on the train?  Or I'm waiting in the rain at the unsheltered bus stop?  Or it's just inconvenient to use a computer on the train platform?

   Then it's back to Automobile University.  I still have my iPod with me.  Or I could go old-school and read a book, something I used to have very little time for.  That could be enjoyable leisure reading... or to help me excel (remember what blog this is!), it could be something work-related. Another lo-tek solution, if you need to write something, is good old pencil and paper, like the Hipster PDA.  I've gotten into the habit of carrying a small pen, and a spiral-bound notebook about the size of index cards.

   Most of these techniques could also be applied to other situations where you're waiting or otherwise trapped.  Granted, a netbook or a book might be a bit bulky... but the latest iPod Nano is about the size of a book of matches!

   Now it's your turn!  What ways have you found, to recoup time that would otherwise be wasted?  What limitations do they have?  What equipment do they require?