Making the Most of “Short-Burst” Downtime

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I put “downtime” into two different categories. Short-burst downtime, and long-burst downtime.

Long-burst downtime, we all know, are the hours between the flight attendant saying  “Sir, the doors closed 15 minutes ago, Blackberry off, NOW,”  and that first “ka-thump” of the wheels hitting pavement, hundreds or even thousands of miles away.

Then there’s short-burst downtime.

If you’re connected via an electronic leash (or by more than one, for some of us), short-burst downtime is the 15 or so minutes from the time you enter the subway outside your apartment until you exit the subway outside your office, or the 20 or so minutes when you’re sitting in traffic in the valley without signal, or the “please turn off the transmitter” time in the doctor’s office, etc.

We’re all smart enough to know what to do during long-burst downtime. Magazines, preventing Inbox-Bankruptcy, even using TripLife to make sure you get the best seatmate possible.

But how many of us actually use short-burst downtime to our advantage.

Behold… A top 8 list for making the most of short-burst downtime – those 20 minutes without signal, those 45 minutes when RIM next goes down, those 75 minutes when you’re at some event with your sig other’s parents so deep in the back-woods of Georgia that signal doesn’t exist.

Top 8 Short-Burst Downtime Networking Tips

8 ) “Hey, what’s going on” replies via text. All cell phones have a “store” feature, where you can send as many texts as you want, and the second you have signal, it’ll send them all. This rocks. Answer all those texts that weren’t urgent, firm up plans for the night, or just say hi to a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while. (the real beauty of texting.)

7) Gmail for Blackberry – I love my Blackberry Gmail application. Especially since I can write/reply/delete without a signal. Lets me catch up on all my email that’s secondary – mailing lists, humor, jokes, etc. Sends automatically upon reacquisition of signal

6) Hard restarts of all your devices… We tend to forget that our phones, blackberries, and the like are all simply computers – that tend to get a little fuzzy at times. Next time you actually get a seat on the train (I don’t recommend doing this as a standee) open the back, take out the battery, count to 50, then reinsert and watch it come back to life. Easy way to gain back some mobile speed.

5) TwitterBerry – You’re all on Twitter, right? Well, Twitterberry is awesome – It lets you see all your updates, friends updates, direct messages, and replies, right from a sweet, sweet Berry interface. Simply click on “get” before you descend, then catch up on all your friends.

4) Dump emails – We all keep emails because need some information – a date, a place we’re supposed to go… But once the event or information happens, we don’t need it, but we forget to delete it. Scroll all the way to the bottom of your mobile device’s email, and see what you don’t need any more. Delete it. It’ll make you happy.

3) Photo-a-Day… We’re all journalists now – We’ve all got at least one camera on us at all times. I actually have a blog category called “Idiot Things Travelers Do,” and tend to update it with photos of stupid people being stupid. It’s fun. Just don’t be obvious about it. Upload to Flickr, or on your blog, or even to Facebook, and you’re a budding photographer with tons of fans.

2) Compare your phone to your Address Book – Got tons of useful numbers (local café, pizza place, locksmith, cleaning woman) in your address book, but not in your phone? Add a few a day to your phone, and you’ll always have them when you need them. There’s a reason Tasos Café on 11th Avenue recognizes my voice. I can call from the Subway, and have something ready for takeout when I get there, three blocks away. That rocks.

1)  Facebook Mobile – This Blackberry application lets you download all of your friend’s status updates, as well as receive email, write on people’s walls, and the like. Best part is that you don’t need signal – download all the updates as you leave the house, and by the time you get on the subway, you can view them, write on walls, wish happy birthdays, and the second you’re above ground again, everything sends.

Got a favorite short-burst downtime tip for me? Do tell in the comments below.

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