In my experience the people who are most successful always take time to learn and read. Modern society makes this very difficult. According to the 2003 US Census, the average amount of time spent driving one way to work is 24 minutes each day. That means the average person spends 48 minutes of their day in the car. This may not seem like too much, but if a person allows 8 hours to sleep and 8 hours for work those 48 minutes represent 10% of their available free time.
The best way I have found to make my drive time productive is to listen to business audio books. With the Internet and modern mp3 players it is easier than ever to get audio books to listen to in your car. By downloading audio books from the Internet you don’t have to waste time going to a store that may or may not have what you want.
Buying a Player
There are many different players on the market. The most important feature to look for is the ability to play back files from audible.com or the iTunes music store. The most popular player is the iPod. With the release of the Apple 512 MB iPod Shuffle you can get an iPod for $99. Personally, I use a 20 gig iPod that I bought from Amazon(Apple 20 GB iPod). It gives me plenty of space to fit audio books and it doubles as a backup hard drive and is still priced in a reasonable range. The Apple 4 GB iPod Mini Silver is another good option and many people prefer it because of its small size.
The iPod Shuffle is different than the other members of the iPod family in that it uses flash based memory while the higher priced models us tiny hard drives. This should make it less susceptible to skipping if you use it while jogging or doing other higher impact activities. I’ve been jogging with my iPod and it usually isn’t an issue, but if you are a hard runner or want to listen to music while playing tackle football, I’d recommend the 512 MB iPod Shuffle or 1 GB iPod Shuffle .
Whatever player you choose, be careful not to leave it in the car in the sunlight. The inside of cars can often reach a very high temperature during the summer that can damage the electronics if left exposed directly to the sun. If you leave it int he car, put it in the glove compartment or some where else out of direct sunlight.
Playing Audio through your Car Stereo
It isn’t very safe to wear your head phones while driving, so you should find someone to play your audio books through your car stereo. If you car has an input for an external CD or mp3 player you are in luck. If not there are several other options available. Cassette adapters plug into your iPod with a wire and then go in your tape deck. In my experience these wear out after 40 to 80 hours of use. I prefer using a radio transmitter instead. You simply tune your radio to a particular channel, plug the transmitter into your iPod and listen through your car stereo. One of the most elegant examples of this is the Griffin Technology iTrip FM Audio Transmitter because it gets its power from the iPod and you can control the channels directly from the iPod interface. There is also the Monster Cable iCarPlay iPod Transmitter which charges your iPod at the same time so you don’t run out of batteries.
Getting Audio Books
The biggest publisher of downloadable audio books is audible.com. You can download books directly from their website, through amazon, or though the iTunes music store. Audible.com has subscription plans that can save you some money if you know how many books you intend to buy in a year. I prefer to use iTunes because it keeps my audio books organized with the rest of my audio music files.
You will be able to find most of the popular business books in the iTunes music store. By investing your 48 minutes each day in educating yourself you can spend over 200 hours per year learning things that will help you with your job or just broadening your horizons.
Another source of audio content is from podcasting sites. Podcasting is similiar to blogging except it is done with audio files instead of written text. For example, I listened to an excellent talk by Malcolm Gladwell author of the Tipping Point from IT Conversations website. You can listen to a podcast about podcasting from Bloggercon at the same site.
Here are a few other links related to podcasting for those interested: