Personal Small Business Enterprise

Getting Set to Work in the Car

For a commuter, making use of the time in your car during the morning and afternoon rush can be a huge boon to productivity. But, not if you methodically plan how you can work while on the move, and know how much is too much before it becomes a distraction and risks your safety. I speak from experience: I drive 160 kilometres from my home to my office. With normal allowances for traffic and weather, that can amount to upwards of four hours or more in the car every day. Here are a few recommendations to turn otherwise idle time into productive, focused work time:

Charge your device. Ensure you’ve got a charger for the car, and keep your device plugged in while you drive. Don’t forget to unplug your device when you park if you’re using a so-called “hot” outlet that provides power even if the car isn’t running, otherwise your vehicle’s battery will drain long before you head for home. “Cold” outlets power off when you park, allowing you to leave your adapter plugged in permanently. Please don’t ask how I know this.

Sync your device to your vehicle. Newer vehicles allow you to pair your smartphone to the vehicle’s audio system via Bluetooth. While this may be a more expensive option to purchase than simply buying aftermarket speakerphones, factory-installed solutions are better integrated with the car, and may also be activated by buttons on the steering wheel: a major safety advantage.

Can’t sync? Invest in a speakerphone. Dedicated Bluetooth speakers provide hands-free capability without having to wear anything in your ear. Sound quality may be inferior to factory-installed solutions, though, so test it to ensure you can hear your callers and they can hear you.

Headsets can be an invaluable tool. Wired headsets are cheap, and require almost no additional care. A Bluetooth headset dispenses with potentially troublesome wires while you’re driving, although it does mean you’ll have another device to keep charged. Bluetooth headsets are effective for commuters working on the go because you can answer and end calls by simply pressing a button on the headset. Be sure to try a headset before you buy it though, as an uncomfortable headset will gather dust – and encourage dangerous (and in many provinces, illegal) handheld operation.

Use your voice to get tasks done. All major mobile devices now offer various forms of voice control, allowing you to make and end calls, and even read – through synthesized voice – and respond to text messages. You won’t use them to write a novel, but they can help you keep your hands on the wheel and your mind on your driving.

Practice before you drive. Don’t learn how to use your equipment when you’re behind the wheel. Practice using everything in the comfort of your own driveway before using it out on the road.

Know when to turn it off. Even a well-planned, voice-activated, hands-free solution can divert your attention if you’re really focused on the discussion at hand. If external conditions – traffic or weather, for example – worsen, get off the phone and focus on getting to your destination safely.

In future blog entries, we’ll look at apps and other solutions that drive in-car productivity. For now, keep in mind that the right equipment can establish an effective foundation for your four-wheeled office.

What other tips or tricks have you adopted to stay productive on the road? Share your thoughts and comments below.

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