I have been searching for what seems an age for that sweet spot in commuting productivity. My normal mornings are spent commuting into London by train for around 50 minutes. So every morning I have 50 minutes that I could use productively rather than gazing out of the window or catching a some extra zzzzz’s. (Disclaimer, I do both of these activities occasionally!)
In my work bag you will find an iPad mini retina (3G version), an iPhone 6 plus, some Apple Headphones and a Logitech ‘Keys to Go’ keyboard. The available space might accommodate a Macbook Air 11″ but I find the iPad Mini to be a lot more versatile. You would also find a Moleskin notebook for those times sketching ideas out on paper is quicker than anything else.
The mobile internet service on my train service is patchy in large area’s which is why all of the apps I use has an offline mode. There’s nothing worse than loosing anything I’m working on, music stopping or video buffering etc when the connection drops.
My iPad mini is a 3G version but next time I upgrade I will return to tethering to my iPhone as it’s so much easier now with iOS8.
Apps that keep me Productive.
Sunrise Calendar – A quick look at any appointments, what does my day look like? Do I need to prepare anything? Currently I am using Sunrise as my goto calendar app, purely as it looks and functions really well on all platforms. Now owned by Microsoft I hope it gets even better!
Nozbe – My task management application. Every morning I complete a quick morning review of my tasks, noting any tasks with the priority star. I also process any new tasks that have hit my inbox into project folders.
Google Docs – I recently started to use the Mac Desk.pm app for my blogging needs and I look forward to seeing an iPad version in the future. Until then, Google Docs fills the gap for a clutter free blog writing (draft) tool whilst I am on the move.
It’s continuous sync is useful in enabling me to pickup my writing on my Windows PC or Chromebook if the urge takes me. I eventually copy the text into Desk.im to finish up or copy directly into WordPress if I’m finished.
Mailbox – I class myself as lucky in the fact I don’t see my corporate email on my personal devices thanks to my employers lack of BYO device policy. So to help me keep on top of my personal emails I use Mailbox to keep my inbox at zero with the least hassle. The commute is the 1st time I look at my email if possible. The corporate email, I power up the Samsung S4 and forward anything of note directly to Nozbe.
AnyList – As good as Nozbe is at keeping me on track AnyList is a lot more useful in 1 particular area, grocery shopping! My wife and I have a shared grocery list that we both add to. When on the train it’s really easy to add to the weekly shopping list if needed.
Apps to relax with.
Headspace – I’m learning to meditate and I use 15 – 20 minutes of my journey just for this. Being British all of my travelling companions sit in hushed silence, I can hear the rustle of a newspaper, a notification ding of someones phone or the sound of the air conditioning system and the train on the tracks but there is nothing to really disturb me from a little meditation. I actually find it easier to meditate on the train than at home as the dog isn’t with me!
Spotify – Even though my travelling environment is quiet I do love to play something in the background when I’m ‘doing’ things. I subscribe to Focus@Will for distraction free music and sounds, the only problem is it’s streaming only and my mobile data reception isn’t really up to the job for the whole journey. Until an offline version appears I fall back on Spotify and a choice number of distraction free playlists downloaded for offline use (Spotify Premium) to help me focus.
Kindle app – My Amazon Paperwhite Kindle is now my prefered reading device however the iPad app is a good substitute and allows me to leave a device at home, with whisper sync my position is continuously synced from my bedside Paperwhite device allowing me to pick up where I finished reading on either device.
Pocket – I love pocket, it’s one of my favorite iPad apps, I’m always coming across articles that I’d like to read, on the web or in my RSS reader, but don’t always have time or I’m not really in a right frame of mind to read it all. I can send these articles to Pocket for offline reading on my commute, it’s not reliant on having web access so my patchy mobile connection does not cause me any problems
Ziner – Ziner is a great RSS app that I use whenever I want to catch up with the Tech and Productivity world, it’s my favorite for a number of reasons including its background sync, it’s 1 handed operation and great look. It uses Feedly and works really well.
Overcast – For my Podcast needs Overcast keeps me happy, it has a number of great features that make it stand out from other podcasting apps like Voice boost and Smart Speed. It allows me to keep my Podcast Subscriptions in Sync and backed up between iPad and iPhone. Really useful as I tend to use the iPad on the train and iPhone when walking.
BBC iPlayer – Some Days after a day at the office I relax with some comedy, BBC Click technology program or an Episode of Horizon. I tend to sync a number of programs at the weekend, I never watch all of them but it’s handy having some available if needed.
Plex – With a subscription allows you to download any of your Plex library to your iPad for offline viewing and as Plex is my home media player through an Amazon Fire TV it makes perfect sense in my tool set.
Whilst I’m hardly a seasoned road warrior this small number of apps keep me super productive and entertained on my commute to work and from work, even when the mobile connection is absent.
If you can recommend any other apps you use on your commute, please share in the comments!