Finding Time

By Ray DePaul

A comedian once pointed out that the advertisements on the outside of a bus are for nice things like a new Ford F150 or a house in a idyllic neighbourhood, while the advertising inside the bus is for debt consolidation services or help lines. Well, while I was pondering if I was financially distressed or needed to upgrade my skills, I noticed something interesting. All of the university aged people around me on the bus were playing mindless games on their smartphones, while I was listening to a podcast on the wisdom of crowds (which might inspire a blog post in the future). Advantage: me.

I've certainly met some incredible students who juggle young families, a full-time job, and a full course load. But leaving those superhumans aside, I'm often told by students that they don't have time to do this or that valuable activity. One of the most important lessons you will hopefully learn in university is how to manage your time. How to allocate and balance your most precious resource towards the things that matter. And what "matters" is completely up to you - school, family, friends, meditation, fitness, new experiences...

One of the key value propositions of the original BlackBerry was to help people find little bits of time in their day to be more productive. Business users were emailing their customers and colleagues from the back of a cab or the airport. It literally created productive time in their day and gave them an advantage. Your phone was designed to help make you more productive, freeing up time for the important things in life.

We've seen incredible new uses for a smartphone including finding directions to anywhere in the world or locating a car2go nearby, but it appears that games and music have become the default use of a smartphone when you find yourself with nothing to do. What if you were the person on the train that listened to a Planet Money podcast on the fascinating worldwide supply chain necessary to make a t-shirt. Or the 99% Invisible episode on how the now ubiquitous ribbon campaigns began as a design to promote AIDS awareness. Or the incomparable RadioLab and its many stories of the brain and neuroscience featuring the late, great Oliver Sacks.

Broadening your mind while in transit, on a walk, or working out just might give you an edge over the other lemmings trying to shoot lemmings on their smartphone.