Last week I shared my dirty little secret – I no longer own a car and I make do shuffling between public transport options, UberX, cycling, cabs and the occasional Go-Get. While the goal originally was just to see if I could do it without impacting my availability and lifestyle, there have been numerous other benefits. This week I thought I’d share how being a driverless nomad has changed my work/life habits.
One things for sure, when you don’t drive you have a heck of a lot more time to muck around with your devices. Rather than sitting in traffic where the only option might be to make a few phone calls and beep my horn incessantly, I get to spend far more time relaxing between meeting points. Though I’ve been fortunate enough to never have to wait more than a few minutes for a train, and being in and around the city most days means I’m never left long waiting for an Uber, it can often be anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour with just me, some occasionally smelly commuters and my iPhone.
I made a commitment to use the time wisely by being more productive, increasing client contact and getting educated. So without further ado, here are some apps (most will work on either Apple or Android devices) that have been part of this new journey:
Audible is your one stop shop for pretty much any book ever published, only with Audible the books are read to you by a narrator. If I’m travelling early morning or late at night I’ll download a book and listen to it. Depending on the narrator this can be a very soothing and educational experience. It’s also great for flights if you’ve seen all the inflight movies.
Some of my top recent reads on Audible include:
Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance
Hyper Sales Growth by Jack Daly
The Everything Store by Brad Stone
If audio isn’t really your thing then you can’t beat Kindle. Trucking around town without a car means you need to travel light so lugging around books isn’t always very convenient. I have used the Kindle app for a long time and lately it has been useful when older books have not yet been converted to audio.
The kindle app is also free and books are relatively inexpensive.
Between Kindle and Audible and time away from the steering wheel I’m able to keep up with my goal of reading 1 book per week.
There are of course a million and one options for taking notes on your iPhone or iPad. The built in Notes app is already a very useful tool. However, some years ago I got on to OneNote (a Microsoft tool) and have watched it evolve in to an indispensable tool. My main incentive for using OneNote is it is available across a broad range of devices, for example my PC, my Android tablet (that I still occasionally use), my iPhone and my iPad mini. More importantly the tool is versatile – you can take handwritten notes, audio notes, photos and even scan documents.
I always wondered what the appeal of podcasts were – I couldn’t imagine listening to someone when I could perhaps read an article or read a book. I suppose the shift to using Audible changed my outlook on this and I have now subscribed to several podcasts. Like Audible, having something I can listen to while on the move has actually benefited me greatly. For example, on the 10-15 minute walk to the station in the morning I can listen to my favourite podcast which is usually only 10 minutes at the most.
There are loads of Podcast apps but I find the built in Apple app meets my needs.
Some of my favourite podcasts right now are:
The Advanced Selling Podcast – these guys are hilarious and offer highly ethical sales processes which apply to pretty much anyone in a sales or consulting role.
How to Start a Startup – this podcast is recorded at Stanford University to (from what I can gather) a room of budding entrepreneurs. To be listening to the guys who started Airbnb or Paypal every morning before I hit the office has had a real impact on the stuff we do at I Know IT.
Microsoft Outlook (app – https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/microsoft-outlook/id951937596?mt=8)
Of course no commute is complete without catching up on email. I figure if I am at the office and doing email then I’m missing out on doing other stuff so.. my goal is to knock over email before I arrive. The Apple app for Mail is great but Microsoft’s relatively new Outlook app is better IMHO. For example the Outlook app automatically sorts your important email from your “other” email. In basic terms it guesses that people you have recently emailed or are in your contacts list are important whereas newsletters, incessant updates from LinkedIn or Facebook aren’t. The app has your Outlook calendar integrated and a few other handy features for setting up an appointment directly from an email you are sending.
The Outlook app is free and is definitely one of my most used apps.
The winner for my most used apps this year would have to be Slack. Slack is an instant messaging tool designed to be used by teams. Because our team are geographically dispersed we find that keeping together in continuous chat is a way to stay involved and up to date on projects. Our internal email has dropped by 70% because we don’t blindly CC each other in and forward on emails the way we used to.
The iOS version of Slack is still a bit slow and buggy but for keeping in contact with my team while commuting to and from work this app I cannot live without.
Here’s where you would think I would have the most comprehensive list of get-around apps – I mean, you would think so but in reality I’ve found public transport apps a bit meh – Melbourne’s PTV has been great when I’m down there every week or so, whereas Sydney’s 131500.com.au isn’t an app and can only be used through the browser which I find a bit cumbersome. I do use Uber heavily and that app is easy to use and completely indispensable. I’ll admit that I haven’t looked too hard at transport apps because my routes are pretty much the same each day but if you have any tips i’ll be glad to take them onboard.
While my jury is still out on how long I can remain driverless in this town, one thing is for sure, these tools have made me more productive, increased my “me time” and improved my knowledge.
Do you have any must have apps for commuting/travelling? I’ve got all the time in the world to try them out so do share below!