Ok so you can use some of your dead time in the car etc. to listen to language podcasts but what about when you don't have an mp3 player handy. I think it would be great to spend some time daydreaming in Chinese. 我要大 cheeseburger [ ]
My favorite definition of reverie is an abstracted state of absorption. For some reverie is that "Walter Mitty" state where you can daydream that you are the hero, super-stud, rock musician etc. etc. Others use reverie as for more constructive purposes , creative people create things whilst sitting on the bus, programmers and mathmaticians solve problems. This constant reworking and reworking of a problem is to my mind the basis of the sterotypical absent minded scientist, who has taken it so far that they often seem phased out of the real world.
How does any of this help with learning Mandarin? Well assuming that you are disciplined enough to use reverie for a useful purpose (hey you can still put aside a little time to imagine that you are a super-stud ;)) then you can constantly practice your Mandarin whilst standing in queues etc.
My working example came from a blog comment on www.chinespod.com from a Chinespod user called "Mike in Jubei". Mike's comment about made me realise what I had already started doing. Imagine you are standing in a long queue waiting to order a cheeseburger. Think .... 我想 cheeseburger [ ] the queue is long you get more urgent think .... 我要 cheeseburger [ ] actually you don't want a small 我不要小 cheeseburger [ ] but a big 我要大 cheeseburger [ ] etc. etc. I think you get the point. What is more you will probably be prompted to go home and find out what the heck cheeseburger is in Mandarin.
My last thought on the matter, once you get good enough at Chinese you can do all your daydreaming in Mandarin. How about being a super-stud in China? everyone is a winner :).
P.s to anyone who knows me and is saying "yeah in your dreams mate!" thats the whole point :p