Cashless Parking; No Change? No Problems.

A few weeks ago I was given a job that involved some work at Monash University. I was reasonably aware that I may need to pay for parking. I never carry cash, so I was ready to combat the cashless parking systems with my credit card. But, as it turned out this was not an option this time.

A Parking Problem

The first stop over I had was at the Peninsula Campus in Frankston. I was ever diligent looking for a free space, but time was a premium so I pulled into a spot and headed over to the pay box. Unfortunately, I never carry change and the few dollars I’d kept in the console of the car had mysteriously vanished. But, armed with a credit card I thought I had the system beat. A swipe with the card on the machine and selecting an hour, as it was the minimum, but NOTHING happened! I tried again, and the result was the same.

I know how ruthless the private parking army can be, so I checked the machine again. It turns out that if you pay with a card the minimum amount payable was ten dollars! Well I wasn’t having that, so I figured I would risk it and went about my job. After a about twenty minutes I returned to my car and happy to see no fine, but they could have made the pay system much easier, in my opinion.

Parking Problems, Part 2

The next stop was at the Clayton campus. Clayton is much bigger and busier that the Peninsula campus, and here they have security guards on all the parking. There was no way I was risking leaving the car without a ticket. I tried to find a spot that was free from pay parking, but there was nothing. Although I’m fairly certain private parking fines can’t be enforced, it was not worth the risk. I decided that if it would cost ten dollars to avoid a fifty dollar fine than it was worth it. After I parked I spotted a sign, something about using a parking app?! Now I love using tech to solve small problems, so I downloaded to app and poked about its innards.

Cashless Parking Solution

Cashless Parking App - Screenshots
PayByPhone Screenshots – Rob Williams 2019

The PayByPhone app was the answer to my cashless parking problems. There was no need for a minimum spend, beyond the usual 1 hour. It did not take very long to set up and I could see myself using the app in the future – I’m very wary of apps that seem to have a singular purpose.

I didn’t think my job was going to take longer than an hour, but some miscommunication meant that it did. The app gave me a warning that the ticket was about to expire and I had the option to pay for more time. This is something that is not possible when using a traditional ticketing system. This by itself makes the app worthwhile, as I have received many tickets purely because a meeting went longer than expected. As you can see in the screenshots, the app saves your parking history, which is excellent when it comes to claiming that parking amount on your tax return, no need to keep hold of those disappearing ink paper receipts!

While I was skeptical at first, as I never like handing over credit card details, I really enjoyed this experience and would happily use it again. In using an app like this there have been many times that I would have avoided a fine. I feel that the app could use some extra information, perhaps a map of paybyphone accepted places. I’m not sure how new this parking system is but I hope it continues to roll out in many more places.

Oh, and when I did return to my car the parking inspectors were in full force.

Feature Image: by Ali Morshedlou on Unsplash

Time Clock

Making the Most of Free Time

One element of poor time management is thinking, ‘this task is too big, it will take too long and I don’t have that much time today’. In times like this you essentially park the task in a tiny 2 DO L8R file in a dark corner of your mind behind the I HOPE IT WILL ALL GO AWAY section. This was my thinking on almost everything; then I found a juicy nugget of FREE TIME.

Making Free Time

In reality there is no such thing as FREE TIME, but rather a structuring of time, reallocating importance and getting value from the time that we have.  Let’s do a thing. Don’t worry it will be painless. Make a sketch of your day, a brief time line of what you need to get done on a daily basis and when you do it; don’t create a fantasy, this is for you only – feel free to burn it when your done.

For the record mine looks like this:

  • 0700 Wake up, lie in bed on phone to 0730.
  • 0730 Get up, do morning stuff – sort kids out for school, and drop them off.
  • 0845 Get home from the school drop off.
  • 0945 Leave for work.
  • 1815 Get Home from work.
  • 1830 Start getting dinner ready.
  • 2030 Chilling on the couch; Kids are all done for the day.
  • 2300 Bed.

When I did this I found that there was a time where nothing was happening, well a few, but lets focus on this one. From 0845 – 0945, was just me time and what was I doing with it? NOTHING! Usually sitting on the couch, coffee in hand watching half of a movie I’d seen ten times before. I was literally killing time until work. So I decided to use it, I took 45 minutes and started doing things. Every morning for about 3 months I worked outside clearing my garden and building a retaining wall, which had been a job 2 years on hold because I didn’t have the time!

Knowing The Time

Understanding how long a tasks takes is imperative to proper task management. In the example of gardening it did not matter, I just did a bit every day and that was that. But because I used a given time, now I know how much work can be done in that 45 minutes. I know how many holes I can dig, how much land I can clear, how fast I can empty a loaded trailer, and many others. This same reasoning can be applied to any task.

Make the Time, Use the Time

Give yourself a time frame, claw back some wasted time our of your day and set a task. How many words can you write in a 15 minutes? What about editing? How long do the dishes really take to do? Once you know these simple questions to tasks, you are free to work on ways to improve and get faster. I have done this same exercise with cleaning, painting, and writing. What do you think you could use it for?

Final Tip

I work best to music, and I set an alarm on my phone for the time period, and I work fully focused until the timer goes off. Then I bask in the glory of a completed task.

Feature Image: Seth Macey on Unsplash