Wednesday, June 11, 2008

More Mass Transit Madness.....

This is a second part of a multi-part series on tips to become someone who uses Mass Transit

3. Think like a chess master.

Quiz: what are you doing when you are stuck in traffic?

Answer: nothing

Mass transit will have hiccups, just like life. So the key is to think a few moves ahead like a chess master, and to plan for it. I'm not talking about preparing for the apocolypse, but carrying a few things to pass the time while you are waiting or transiting can make the time more useful. If you are fortunate enough to have a job that is project based, instead of service based, carry a memo to be reviews, papers to be graded, etc. In fact be sure to carry one or two things you can do while waiting. I like to carry a magazine and some work reading, or some podcasts on an music player, a daytimer. or some puzzles. Since often the commute is at the end of the day and you are not the freshest, you want a task that will match your mental state. So a fun magazine to complement the dull work memo, you have to be flexible and go with your natural rhythm. Sometimes you might take a nap. People find mass transit constricting because they insist going against the flow. What they forget is that in your car in traffic you aren't moving faster either.

Another part of the chess master story, is know what part of the game you are in. If you are going to be home late at night, then plan for a taxi or a friend to give you a ride home, or you just say hey I'm doing my part and drive that day. If you most move at the end game of your day, you make different moves.

There are other things about planning ahead. One of the great things about London is that people read there, and a lot of that reading is done on the subway or train. It makes for a very literate city. move time becomes smart time.

4. Invest in a smartphone and a data plan.

This post was done before the announcement of the new 3G Apple iPhone. Much of it still applies

Our lives are increasingly electronic and digital. Today's smart phones with a keyboard (virtual or otherwise) can accomplish an amazing amount. Point of fact, the first draft of this post is being written on a Treo device (and I will be posting the original smart phone drafted version at the conclusion of this series)

Blackberries and other email devices enable you to clear out your inbox while you are on the train or bus. They also have mobile internet so you can catch up on the news, or your Facebook if you are so inclined (I've done both). I've planned parties using a handheld device even. Smartphones are really handheld computers that make phone calls, and can do almost everything a real computer can do.

With an increasing number of web sites going mobile you can use transit time effectively if you have a reasonably priced data plan. It's not mandatory to have, but it enable a lot more. For instance, smartphones are almost universally enabled with a communications technology called bluetooth that links them up to other devices, such as a headset. Another bluetooth application is called "Dial Up Networking" or DUN and it allows you to connect your computer to the internet through your phone. So if you have work that can only be done on your computer you are in luck. (Note not every smartphone will have this feature, or have it enabled. For instance the new iPhone will not).

One last thing is that you can download games on your phone and take a break from it all.

5. Feed

Sustenance is often consciously neglected, until you find yourself crashing. Drive-ins and fast food were created for a reason, the feeding of those with a need for speed. It's not any different though for people who commute by foot, that's why there are so many quick deli counters in NYC serving up bagels. When you go mass transit you're not going to pull in to a store and grab yourself some food. Chess masters plan their matches understanding that the brain needs energy too.

Get use to carrying an energy bar, fruit or a bagel. I prefer energy bars if you can find a brand you like. I recommend Clif Bar in that they are the best tasting, they have incredibly enlightened management, and use organic ingredients whenever possible. As a side bar I also recommend founder Gary Erickson's book "Raising the Bar" for an good guidebook on creating value. I prefer energy bars are since they are there when you need them. Perishables like bagels and fruit can rot. An alternative is dried fruit.

If you like sandwiches, muffins or donuts, go with what you like but WARNING they are greasy and may reek havoc on the rest of the things in your bag.

I've spoken to the food, now the drink. A simple refillable water bottle with a screw cap can meet your needs. You can even use a used water bottle. though the narrow top makes cleaning more difficult so a wide mouthed bottle is my recommendation.

More tips to follow


At 7:40 PM , Blogger ruchi said...

I really don't think that some high tech phone is *really* necessary. I know, I know, I'm getting on my non-consumerist soapbox, but those cell phones take a big toll on the environment and getting a new one every year or so wastes a ton of resources. I'm no saint, I want an iPhone, I want a Kindle, but I'm not getting them because I have a phone, an iPod, and a book and ultimately a smartphone isn't a NEED. Yes, sometimes I think it would be nice to have internet. But it's also nice to have some internet free time since the rest of my life is all internet all the time. If you have to have a blackberry for work, consider buying one used on eBay. I don't have a blackberry, but I bought my current cell phone off of eBay for $40. It has a camera and all that other good stuff and it's lasted me 13 months so far which is about 6 months longer than the last new phone I got from my cell carrier lasted. Plus I didn't have to sign a contract. I know it's human nature for technophiliacs to crave the latest and greatest, but I've learned instead to rock it out old school with my nicked up old cell phone and my iPod mini. Okay, I'll get off the soap box now. Sorry.

At 11:18 PM , Blogger Charles said...

aduous, as usual you bring up some really good points. and i'm not saying that you NEED a high tech mobile phone, but in most cases mass transit there is a trade off in time, and my suggestions are centered around time shifting some of your life, sort of like a Life-Tivo. I'm actually very much a retrogrouch, running my technology into the ground.

Absolutely consider buying your technology used, and selling yours or donating it. There are mobile phone reclamation projects that refurbish donated phones for distribution to abuse hotlines and shelters along with donated minutes.

I too think the consumer culture of the latest shiny gadget is damaging, so if you aren't going to use it, no matter how much use it could possibly have, if you don't use it, it don't matter.


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