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Making the Most of the Carpool Line

Carpool post header

The carpool line is the bane of my #momboss existence during the school year. With three kids in two separate schools and no convenient bus transportation, it is my duty as Driver of the Red Lego Brick vehicle (the shape of the car, not the contents nor composition) to shuttle children from school to after-school activities and home. This means that I have a hard deadline every afternoon, at which time I must grab phone, bag, and any other kid necessities, and begin a two and a half hour adventure that requires a lot of sitting and waiting.

For someone focused on completing tasks and whose main workload requires a microphone and a quality noise floor, the act of sitting and waiting in the car can be maddening. For the first few weeks of the school year, it feels like my personal productivity slows to a crawl. Away from my home studio and a steady internet connection, I get the sense that there’s little for me to do as the minutes creep by and at least one fellow carpool driver forgets standard etiquette by blocking lanes or diving in front of other parents.

There’s a lot of swearing in the carpool lane when kids aren’t present. And, for a while, there wasn’t much else going on. Sure, I might sit and scroll through Facebook or Twitter, maybe try and catch up on email, but it wasn’t very productive. So, I started to think about those little things that had to get done but didn’t require an internet connection.

I came up with more than a few. To be honest, I have a mobile office set-up that fits into my oversized shoulder bag. Computer, headphones, wireless mouse, and a few office supplies, and I’m ready to go. So, what did I have on my list of things to do that I could manage from the front seat of the car in half-hour chunks?

(Yes, I’m generally waiting for a half-hour, so I can pick up children at the right time and go on to the next location. Just like people time morning commutes for the best chance at the least amount of traffic, I time the best time to get into the carpool line for the least amount of waiting once the kids are let out of school.)

Five Carpool Waiting Activities

  1. Review the next day’s chapters for recording. Most of my files are shared across machines, so I can download a script and review it while I wait in the car. With no one else to hear me, I can read out loud, try out character voices, and practice any difficult words or phrases.
  2. Work on prep for a new book. I can read and highlight a script, make notes, and do my character/chapter breakdowns while I wait. With the ability to work offline and then sync files when I’m back home, I can get in another half hour that would otherwise be lost to the minor deities of education transportation.
  3. Write the next blog post or social media blurb. One of the secrets to maintaining a social media presence is to keep the content going. I write my blog posts in Scrivener and then post them to the site in advance, so plunking down a few hundred words from the front seat is a way to create content without having to be in the studio or connected to the internet. Plus, if someone inspires me when I’m out, I can jot it down and use it for later.
  4. Catch up with industry news. Read the latest Audiofile magazine or catch up with posts on the blog (which might require a connection through your phone). Check out what people like Tom Dheere or Johnny Heller are posting on their websites. See what’s happening on the Audible blogs and which of your colleagues are featured this month. You can even make a note to post about something you found particularly cool or enlightening when you’re doing your social media updates the next day.
  5. Listen to audiobooks. If you have a half-hour to burn on a daily basis and you are an audiobook narrator, you should be listening to audiobooks. So many people starting out (and I was one of them, years ago) claim that they don’t have time to listen to audiobooks because they want to spend time narrating. Trust me, if you’re not listening, you’re missing opportunities to learn about the craft. It can be fiction or nonfiction, but when all else fails, have a book to put in your ears. It’s professional development wrapped up in entertainment, and it’s a great use of that carpool time.

What else could you do to make use of your “hurry up and wait” time that will have a positive effect on your #narratorbiz endeavors?

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