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I am currently multitasking my commute by cycling (2x40 minutes exercise daily) with occasional podcast listening (learning 1-2 times a week), but I feel like I could do more. Has anyone experimented with automated mail readers or other hands-free activities during workouts/commutes?

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Thanks for mentioning the mode of transportation - cycling. If you were a motorist, your answers would be quite different. – rlb.usa Jul 7 '11 at 16:31
Time for someone to write Google Voice^-1, from mail to phone instead of phone to mail. Although something that converts your mails into a podcast in the morning could as well be fine... – Tom Wijsman Jul 7 '11 at 16:37
A couple of people tried to make text-to-speech but it did not really have a business model attached. GMail to podcast is an interesting thought but would anyone pay for it (Free to Free, pay for conversion - I don't remember if that was one of the fifty 'free' ideas in the 'Free' book) – Alexandre Rafalovitch Jul 7 '11 at 16:41
Be aware of the hazards of being distracted while cycling. The gain in productivity might not outweigh the benefits of riding defensively. – jrdioko Jul 7 '11 at 16:45
@Larry Smithmier: do you use earphones for listening to podcasts on your bike? If yes, isn't that very dangerous, as you are not only mentally distracted from the traffic circulation but also somehow disconnected, as you don't hear as good as you could/should? – MostlyHarmless Jul 18 '11 at 10:11
up vote 17 down vote accepted

If I were cycling, I certainly wouldn't try to do very much other than stay on the bike and enjoy the view and the exercise. But podcasts are good; other thoughts come to mind as well -- language tapes and audiobooks, for example (I did some marathons a few years ago and burned through several audiobooks that way).

Sometimes thinking about things you are working on is an underrated and extremely productive use of time, particularly if you have a capture system (mic + recorder) in place. Smart phones such as the iPhone have recorders built in or readily installable, but in a pinch you can just call your own voicemail and leave a message. Stay safe!

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I agree that cycling could provide a very stimulating opportunity for some think-time. – njsf Jul 7 '11 at 17:17
+1 for mic + recorder. I will get something set up and give progress reports. – Larry Smithmier Jul 7 '11 at 20:24
indeed. I just learned a new language by listening to podcasts while commuting. – bluefoot Jul 8 '11 at 13:25

Let me tell you what I have achieved while walking and cycling with my iPod.

  1. I learnt a new language using language audio books. I usually review that language (Norwegian) often again while I walk.
  2. I have listened to many books which I am not able to read due to lack of time. became my good friend. The Teaching Company also have Great Courses in many interesting topics.
  3. I have used iPod to listen my own course material for one certification exam recorded by me while doing first revision. Constantly hammering your own recording also reeinforces the concepts.
  4. I used audio course from Cornelius Fichtner and did my PMP in one attempt. The audio material helped me prepare for the examination and revise my concepts easily.

If my achievements are worth calling achievements then iPod can be used in many productive ways to make most of your workout time.

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I believe there are mail readers for many smartphones, I personally use tasker on my Android phone. I'd also check Audible, podcasts are great in there own way, but I've "read" a lot of books on Audible that I wouldn't have has time for otherwise.

If you're in the "crazy busy" category, you might think about a virtual assistant. A phone call to help organize your day and even get some emails written and read to you might be worth it.

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+1 for virtual assistant. I am not sure I am to the "crazy busy" stage at this point (at least not billable crazy busy) but I will keep it in mind for next year. :-) – Larry Smithmier Jul 7 '11 at 20:28
not to have a side conversation but, I'm on a pay as you go plan with getfriday for $10/month and $15/hour. It's not too expensive and worth it if you don't need it all the time. – Dan Williams Jul 7 '11 at 20:31

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