Olixar Universal Bike Phone Mount

I commute to work every day on my motorcycle, it’s a 52 kilometre trip each way. Wearing my headphones, Waze lets me know of any accidents or hazards ahead but because the phone is in my jacket pocket, I only hear such warnings, I don’t see them. It would be nice to see the Waze screen.

I was talking with the folks over at MobileZap, who said I should try out a Olixar Universal Bike Phone Mount on the bike. So for the last month I’ve been quite happily riding around, able to see the screen with an easy glance. An added side benefit is that when I’ve received a phone call, I can see who it is and decide if I’ll pull over and talk or not. Previously I’d just ignore all phone calls whilst riding.

photo of the Olixar bike phone mount

The holder itself I thought looked a bit flimsy, however it has held up really well while I’ve ridden through both really hot days (34°C) and heavy rain.

After placing the phone between the two grippy holders, simply squeeze them together and the phone is securely held. I’m using an iPhone 6 in an Otterbox Defender case and it accommodates the larger case quite well. There is a small fold-out piece at the bottom if you’re worried about it falling out the bottom, but I’ve found I don’t need it, the phone doesn’t slip or move while in the holder at all.

To release the phone, there is a small button on the lower right hand side, pressing it causes the two holders to release their grip. Although I was concerned initially that it wouldn’t hold my phone securely, it turns out that it does hold it really well, I’m now quite confident that the phone won’t come loose and fall out while I’m riding.

If you’re looking for a phone holder to fit to your road bike, I can happily recommend this one.

Thanks to MobileZap for providing this product for me to test out.

iPad Keyboard Shortcuts

Summary: create keyboard shortcuts on your iPad to make it quicker write notes and emails. Settings | General | Keyboard | Shortcuts

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I first got an iPad about 10 months ago and the keyboard is nowhere as quick to type on as ergonomic keyboard for my workstation. What does however make typing on the iPad faster are some common shortcuts. For example, when I type “zfyi” it offers to expand that to “saw this, thought it might be something you find of interest… “. Simply pressing the space bar when that popup suggestion occurs will replace the original text with the suggested text. Pressing the small “x” will let you continue with the text you typed.

You can create a number of shortcuts, for example:

  • addrw for your work address
  • addrh for you home address
  • sigw for your signature block
  • zsc for “Schedule for”
  • zu for “Update”
  • add in your colleagues initials so you can quickly enter their name

Now I type in “zsc bh” and it expands to “Schedule for Ben Hamilton “. This makes taking notes in a meeting much quicker. Build out your shortcuts with phrases that cover the actions you commonly need to type. Update, schedule for, organise a meeting with, send email update, etc. if you have common paragraphs of text, make a shortcut for those.

As a bonus tip, if you start your shortcuts with a “z” this can make it easier. Why? Because very few words start with “z” and the “z” letter is on all the default iDevice keyboards. This means you don’t accidentally start a shortcut and you don’t need to change the keyboard view to start typing it. if you’ve prefixed it with a “]” for example (which is what my workstation shortcuts used to start with) then it can take more time typing the shortcut than the actual text you want.

Have you found any shortcuts that have been particularly helpful?

Me, Myself & Productivity

Summary: when inputing text on an iPad or iPhone do a double space to finish a sentence. It will transform into a full stop followed by a space.

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I’ve had an interest in all things ‘productivity’ related for some time, but over the last few years its become a stronger driving force. When I took on my current full-time position implementing and troubleshooting ACT! In 2008, I became far more aware of why a number of businesses I’d worked with previously had not been as profitable as they could have been. They didn’t have an efficient system to deal with the management of staff calendars, meetings, todo’s and opportunities.

Now that I work with and consult with clients on automating some of their processes (using their CRM product as a platform), I see a need for two types of ‘productivity’ help, one that focuses on personal workflow improvement on an individual level and one that focuses on the businesses workflow at a business level.

There is crossover between the two as often a small personal improvement results in an improvement for the business as well. For example, the small, simple tip of doing a ‘double space’ at the end of a sentence when typing on an iPad/iPhone has greatly sped up the rate at which I can input text I to said device. That ‘double space’ transforms into a full stop followed by a space. That’s a personal improvement. But the business benefits because I’m inputting longer, more meaningful notes when I’m out and about. That’s a business benefit.

As a side note, when I was taught to type, we used to do a full stop followed by two spaces. This idea of just one space after a full stop felt foreign. Then I read this article on Why you should never, ever use two spaces after a period and now I’ve seen the light. I was wrong. Damn those monospaced fonts! Now I use a single space after full stops, which makes this ‘double space’ trick particularly useful and as a bonus, it now feels ‘right’ to do so.

I’ve realised that I know lots of these little titbits for improving productivity, and that rather than just sharing that verbally with others when I see that they could benefit from such, I should post it here so that others can benefit. Hence the title of this post, which signals a new resolve to share my knowledge.

Hope you find this and the tips to follow to be helpful.

Ben.

Image credit: Reuben Ingber.