Stay productive on the go

April 11, 2014 | Last updated on April 11, 2014
3 min read

Commuting time need not be wasted time, provided you’re not the one driving. With a few tools, you can review non-urgent e-mails and documents from your phone, laptop or tablet on your commute or between appointments.

Mobile PDF Readers

Apps like Repligo for Android (US$2.99) or BlackBerry (US$14.99), or Good Reader for iOS (US$4.99) will reconfigure PDFs for small screens, transforming a two-column report into a single column to avoid sideways scrolling. The pre-installed reader should suffice on laptops and tablets.


Evernote is a free program that lets you store Web sites, e-mails and documents on its servers and access them across all your devices: laptop, desktop and BlackBerry, Android or iPhone smartphone.

You can store documents either by e-mailing or uploading them, and share them via the desktop version’s shared folder system. Right-click the Evernote folder you want to share and follow the instructions.

If you want people to modify the contents, upgrade to the premium version for US$5 per month or US$45 per year.

Alternatives like Read it Later, Instapaper, SpringPad or Apple’s Reading List don’t offer the same storage choices, editing functions or media formats, and don’t work on all operating systems.

Keep Ahead of the News

Blogs and news sites use RSS (Really Simple Syndication) to publish updates in a standard format. An RSS reader puts all new articles and posts in one place so you don’t waste time checking if something’s been updated on multiple Web sites.

To set up RSS feeds on your phone or tablet, download an RSS Reader app. For example:

Prefer newspapers?

Available in all tablet formats, PressReader turns the tablet into a true newspaper reading experience. You can buy one edition at a time or subscribe to papers as diverse as the Washington Post, Bahrain Alayam or Moose Jaw Times Herald.

  • Android phone/tablet: Press (US$2.99)
  • iPhone/iPad: FlipBoard (Free)
  • BlackBerry: Social Feeds (native to OS6 and OS7)
  • BlackBerry Playbook: BlackBerry News, Pipeline (Both free)

Open the app, go into options and choose “Add feed.” Then browse by topic or subscribe to your favourite site. I choose sites I don’t visit regularly, such as the Economist, Al-Jazeera, Lifehacker, Fast Company and Wired. But too many feeds will become overwhelming.

Desktop RSS Options

Web-Based: Feedly

Software: Outlook, Reeder

Look for the RSS or XML icon on sites, usually seen in the top corner or in the address bar itself. You can also Google “name of site (e.g. Advisor.Ca) RSS.” Click on the icon to add it to your RSS feeds. Add it to Outlook by opening Tools > Account Settings > RSS Feeds > New and pasting the link. (After Google Reader closed, more users went to Feedly which is accessible anywhere.)

The Bottom Line

Start each day with a quick review of new e-mail and forward relevant articles, tax bulletins and add commentary to your personal Evernote e-mail address for later reading. Then delete those documents from your inbox and focus on the vital tasks of the day.