vancouver
Having so many things to take care of it’s not surprising that many of us are yearning for more hours in a day. I often wish if I only had 48 or at least 36 hours in a day, my life would’ve been so much easier and organized. But since this will forever remain in history as wishful thinking, I need to find other ways to make things work in a more efficient way.

Recently I started taking my laptop with me to work. I turn it on during my scenic ride on a seabus from North Vancouver to Vancouver and back. The trip takes less than 15 minutes, but I was amazed to see how much can be accomplished during that relatively short period of time. In fact, I’m typing these words while looking outside my seabus window at the Vancouver port that’s getting closer every passing second.

Genius Einstein was right – everything is relative in our life. What can be accomplished in those 15 minutes depends on how you spend them.

At times when I desperately needed to get home or to work as quickly as possible, it seemed that those 15 minutes were dragging forever, making it look that I’ll be stuck in the middle of Pacific ocean for the rest of my life.

On other occasions, those were the most efficient 15 minutes I had during the day. I’d manage to address a few of the emails in the Inbox, silently waiting for my reply, or I’d quickly finish some urgent work for my client.

I used to complain why there’s no internet access on the seabus, but then I realized that it would only slow things down. There’s always time to check and read emails, but I often struggle with finding time to respond to some of those emails. Fortunately, I don’t belong to a category of extremely busy people who are getting hundreds of business emails daily, and are declaring an email bankruptcy . Internet is great, but it’s also one of the greatest distractions ever created by humans.

Now I’m glad that I can quietly work offline for at least 25-30 min during my daily commute. I just have to discipline myself to unplug my laptop from the internet at home as well, and get more efficient without obsessively checking my emails or switching from one blog to another, or chatting online.

I won’t lie, it took me a bit longer than one seabus ride to complete this post (and I definitely need an internet access to publish this), but at least I had a productive start, inspired by a gorgeous sunny Vancouver morning.

How about you? How do you get yourself together, keep things organized and stay more efficient and productive throughout the day?

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18 Insightful Bits in response to “What Can Be Done In 15 Minutes?”

  1. I’m about to declare feed bankruptcy.

    Sometimes I wish I had a laptop to take with me, but that’ll come in the future. In the meantime if I really want to get something done, I turn off all my IM programs and silence my phone.

  2. It seems that not having to drive has its advantages sometimes :) . When I use public transportation I usually have a book with me, and if it is not too crowded, I read. While driving, I cannot do anything else (laptop is out of the question, of course, but I once tried some audio books and one was so captivating that I missed my way and found myself lost in some other part of the city). As of productivity, I discovered that making lists helps a lot. So I make my to do list in the morning, then in the evening I shift what’s left on the next day’s list (sometimes I have to shift the whole list, but these are exceptions, not the rule).

  3. I don’t think I ever considered time until we got a microwave many years ago. Suddenly, a minute seemed like a long time! Now, I too am wishing for more hours in the day. What I do is blog and work late at night when there are less, or no, interruptions. I blog during the day, but I also do things around the house, make calls, talk to neighbors, etc.. Night time is my time. :)

  4. What is this time management you speak of? I think I could find a flying unicorn before I could get a good handle on managing my time. I am a professional procrastinator, the problem is there is not a big market for that profession.

    Like Ron I suffer from feed bankrupcy. I work with three different computers during the day, one has 33 feeds, another has 39 and the last one has 17.

    I am proud to say that I am not cell phone or IM dependent. Email is a different story though.

  5. So when (and if) you get your drivers license, will you continue to use public transportation to get to and from work?

    As for me, I pack a lunch on most days and I use my lunch hour to catch up on feed reading in addition to a little blog writing. That way I don’t feel overwhelmed when I get home from work and have 200 feed items to scan through and blog articles to work on.

  6. Vivien

    Simonne, not having to drive certainly has several advantages. Just think about all that time wasted when people are stuck in the morning and evening traffic?

    Webduck, I’m both a night owl and an early bird. I get up early to go to work and work late from home and blog when my daughter is asleep. During the day I’m at work, after that I spend the rest of the day and evening with my family, taking my daughter to play outside, dinner, evening games, and other typical family and parenting stuff until my daughter finally falls asleep. That’s why I desperately need more hours in a day, I’d like to get a few extra hours of sleep ;-)

    Joey, I’m not a cell phone dependent either. I never used more minutes than I have with my monthly plan. If you ever come across an interesting opening for a professional procrastinator, give me a shout – I’m definitely interested in that job too :-)

    Brian, I think I’ll still be using public transportation for my daily work commutes. But it would also depend on where I’d be living (& working) at that point of time. Currently we live pretty close to the seabus station, and it’s much faster to get to my work by seabus than driving across the bridge with a heavy traffic during the peak hours. It’s also much cheaper – saving on gas and parking. Plus, I’m not polluting the air that much, by using public transportation.

  7. Wow, what a way to travel to work! I’d love to visit.

    When I know I have some time to wait (in a dentist etc.) I take a book with me, because I hardly read as much as I used to at home, which is kind of a shame (and mainly due to the internet).

    Recently I’ve been reading the Lonely Planet for India.

  8. Vivien

    David, just let me know when you decide to visit Vancouver and I’ll even meet you at the airport :-)
    I know, I’m lucky to be crossing Pacific Ocean (to be precise – Burrard Inlet) twice every day, just to get to work and back.

    Did you get a chance to visit Moscow metro (subway, tube) during your train trip? It’s one of the biggest metros in the world and millions of people use it daily, and practically e v e r y o n e is reading a book there (including those who are standing). If you spot someone not reading a book, then he/she is a tourist :-)

  9. Very kind of you, Vivien.

    I did visit the Moscow subway stations, although I was too much of a tourist to notice those people standing out like sore thumbs. ;)

    The subway there is the most surreal I’ve been in. Very ornate from what I remember. Not at all like the ground level buildings.

  10. I wonder, if we could add up all the time we waste throughout the day waiting around, reading non-essential email and feeds, etc, how much “extra” time could we have? I would guess for me it would be in the hours!

    There are so many productivity plans out there, but I think Dawud’s sounds best, though I’ve yet to try it.

    For those “professional procrastinators,” Freelance Switch wrote an article about making that really work for you! It’s funny AND true!

    Simonne, I’ve done that with audio books, too! Glad to know I’m not alone :D

  11. Vivien

    David, you remember it correctly – Moscow subway stations are very ornate, most of the old ones are. The new ones look very bland.

    Oh, well, Lauren, thanks so much for those “non-essential” links that were an absolute read for me. I did manage to control myself though and not click on all those links that Dawud so generously includes in most of his articles. Otherwise I would’ve spent many more hours reading all those blogs and articles.

  12. Hahaha, sorry! Oh, I know how that is! I get lost (time-wise) following links like that! Sure is interesting the things that you can discover, though. It’s how I found all my favorite blogs (including you!!), so sometimes I’m very glad I “wasted” my time :D

  13. Vivien

    oh, you definitely didn’t waste your time to finally find my blog, Lauren :-)
    well, it’s nice of you to say that. I feel honoured to be included in your favourites.

  14. I recently read a book called the 80/20 rule which essentially said that we get most important stuff done in 20% of the time, reminded me of your productive 15 minutes. The book was terrible but an interesting concept none the less.

  15. Vivien

    What’s the name of that book, Tara? So I don’t end up reading that terrible book ;-)

  16. Honestly Vivien Don’t Do it! :) The Book is called Living the 80/20 Way: Work Less, Worry Less, Succeed More, Enjoy More. So bad I skimmed through it on holiday and left it there. If you like businessy/money type books try Rich Dad Poor Dad, much more interesting!

  17. Vivien

    Thanks for the warning, Tara. I’m not really interested in money type books. If I were, I would’ve simply downloaded and read John Chow’s PDF book ;-)

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Hi, I'm Vivien. Thanks for visiting my Inspiration Bit. I often find myself scouring the internet looking for either answers to many questions I have or websites that inspire me, sites that I can learn from. On what topics you might ask — any topics that interest me, anything from web design to typography and art, from blogging to entrepreneurship, from programming to open source.
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When I'm not blogging, I design web sites, teach programming, play with my daughter and try to balance family, work, friends and a somewhat active social life on