9 ways to get smarter if your bus (or subway) is running late this morning

Bus Stop

I was out of breath, but I had made it. I had just sprinted two city blocks up a (small-ish) hill, dodged oncoming traffic, hurdled a raccoon that just happened to waddle out of a neighbor’s hedge and firmly planted my two feet at the base of the bus stop sign. It was 7:03am, and I was on time. Barely.

Then I checked the OneBusAway app to find out when the bus would arrive and my blood pressure began to rise.

I had risked life and limb to catch the early bus, and it was delayed. Not just delayed… it was delayed EIGHT. WHOLE. MINUTES!

Suddenly a strange, Zen-like feeling washed over me. Instead of getting upset or indignant, I could be thankful for an 8-minute window I could use to get smarter or learn something new.

If you’re in a similar situation this morning as you commute to work, here are 9 articles, resources or videos you may want to check out in order to productively spend your minutes before that next bus (or train or plane or automobile) arrives:

1. Stop using bullets! This link offers 2 different studies on why using bullet points in your PowerPoint actually hurts your learners’ ability to absorb your content.

2. Seriously, stop using them! Don’t want to read the research? Then take a few minutes to watch this short video that offers a summary of the research. It’s created in PowToon (which, if you haven’t checked it out, I highly recommend playing with it a bit. It’s great for explainer videos or to promote your next training course.)

3. Reduce the clutter on your slides! Jane Bozarth (author of Better than Bullet Points: Creating Engaging Elearning with PowerPoint) recently wrote a brief article in Learning Solutions Magazine that offers a few specific tips on how to make sure your slides are getting straight to the point. Of course, if you want a few more suggestions on how to “trick out” your PowerPoint, try this or this.

4. Eat lunch! This article from the Washington Post caught my attention because I’m of the opinion that skipping lunch is something that workplace martyrs do (even though it doesn’t really make you more productive, it just makes you grumpy). The Washington Post agrees. (And since your going to eat lunch anyway, here are 3 reasons not to eat at your desk!)

5. Play! I’m not above a shameless plug. Back in July, TD magazine published an article I wrote entitled “Playing Around.” I wrote it because I felt play in the training environment gets a bad rap. It offers suggestions on how to engage audiences in person and online.

6. Be deliberate about your practice. Kristin Anthony brought this very thought-provoking article to my attention. My favorite part included this quote:

“Unfortunately, deliberate practice isn’t something that most of us understand, let alone engage in on a daily basis. This helps explain why we can work at something for decades without really improving our performance.

This article sums up the philosophy behind the name of my blog: Train Like A Champion.

7. Focus your presentation. Phil Waknell gives a great talk in this 15-minute video about the fact that you can’t get people to master your content during a single presentation, but there are some things you can do to get your audience to want to know more.

8. Get your course completion certificates to actually mean something. Some people recycle them before they even leave the training room. Some people bring them back to their office and frame them or stick them in a very important file folder. For some reason, we all seem to award them to our learners. Ben Eubanks posted some thoughts on how to make your training certificates more meaningful.

9. Escape. Ok, maybe you don’t have to cram learning and getting smarter into every second of your day. If you’re a fan of Rocky IV, if you’re a fan of ESPN’s 30 for 30 series, and if you’ve ever wanted to figure out why the Soviet crowd started rooting for Rocky at the end of his epic fight with Drago, check this out.

Have a safe commute in to work today, and have a great day!

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