This past week I was away for 2 days on a business trip … the kind where you leave at 4am on a Thursday, and arrive back at about midnight on the Friday. Short, intensive, rewarding and filled with travel.  I probably had about 10 hours when I was travelling in one form or another – and I tried my best to use this productively.

Here are some things I learnt in that time:

Reading on my phone:

It is perfectly possible to read an entire e-Book on your phone. That’s quite cool. I have – and always travel with – an Amazon Kindle, which is great. I connect that with my instapaper account and whenever I sync, I get a digest of my entire reading list. Perfect. On this trip though, my kindle was buried at the bottom of my bag, whereas my phone was in my pocket. I had a book on my phone that I wanted to read (on the Kindle App) and so I tucked in. (Outside of my instapaper queue, I also recommend taking a look at Readlists which allows you to create e-books from existing web content you find, as well as creating them from people you can follow)

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Photo by yto – http://flic.kr/p/dusMb9

The format was remarkably readable – and whilst this might not be a surprise per se, it is I think quite important. What’s the one device you always have with you? It’s not your laptop or your e-reader. It’s your phone and if people are comfortable using it as a reading device, that has big implications for book publishers and authors.

What’s the ideal length for a book? Does it make a difference whether the book is fiction or non-fiction? How should books be delivered? How do you protect content? My guess is that non-fiction books will be read more often on a phone, that books will get shorter and that they’ll be cheaper to encourage sharing. Perhaps shorter books will be used to increase author reputation so that the author can build a base to better promote other services. I don’t know – but it felt quite important that reading a book on my phone felt so normal.

On a clear, calm day … 

… Birmingham airport can actually be quite lovely. You wouldn’t think it was the main airport for England’s second city … it’s small, friendly, with good coffee, and really easy to use (car parks are close, taxi’s are closer, etc.). Handy.

Working in a compressed time frame:

Two of the most productive blocks of time I had on the whole trip were working on the plane. I flew from Belfast to Birmingham (and back, obviously) which – when you allow for the time when you have to shut down your computer – allowed for about 35 minutes work time each way. Knowing that I had only 35 minutes really helped my focus.

This isn’t new – but it was nice to see put it into action. It has been best articulated as a method known as The Pomodoro Technique.

It is a time management method created by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s that helps you accomplish what you want to do by transforming time into a valuable ally. Why is it so popular? Because it is easy to use, and most of all, because it works! – getting started

They have a little introductory video on their website and a free e-book.  That time constraint can really help you get things done.

How you travel:

If at all possible, at the end of a long day of meetings … see if you can arrange a lift home in style. This was my ride …

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Pretty sweet!  I’m doing some work for the company that makes the gear boxes for these beauties (the Morgan 3-Wheeler) and, well, before you can really market something you have to believe in the product … on the upside: incredible fun, looks great; on the downside: midges.