Rather than gripe about your commute, use that time take care of business, brainstorm projects or simply chill out.
Americans spend an average of 50 minutes each day commuting to and from work. That’s an hour most of us don’t enjoy; recent happiness research revealed that commuting consistently makes the list of “least favorite activities” and “worst part of the day.”
Yet while most of us gripe about bad weather, slow drivers and annoyingly long red lights, commuting doesn’t have to be such a drag. Whether you walk, take public transportation or crawl through rush-hour traffic, your commute may actually have potential.
So resist the urge to honk your car horn. Instead, check out these tips, and you’ll be rocking out, enjoying your commute and crossing items off your to-do list in no time.
1. Take care of business. You’re stuck in commuter hell for however long your drive or ride to work is anyway; might as well feel good about how you make use of your time. I recently bought my first car, and my absolute favorite feature of my new Nissan Rogue is the bluetooth hands-free phone connection. I take meetings from my car (when I know I won’t need to be in front of a computer or taking notes), which pleases the crazy multi-tasker in me.
If you take the bus or train to work, bring along your laptop or iPad to catch up on emails, write a blog post or get a jump start on work for the day.
2. Read or listen to an audiobook. During the four years I commuted to Temple University, I devoured book after book on the train, often times almost missing my stop.
Now that I drive to work, I reluctantly decided to give audiobooks a shot. To my surprise, I quickly fell in love with being read to, and it certainly makes my time in the car all the more interesting. Use your commute to read that novel you’ve been eyeing at the bookstore or borrow an audiobook from the library.
3. Scheme. Thinking of starting a side business? Planning a career break? Writing a novel? Your commute is the perfect time to brainstorm and figure out those next steps. Using your commute time wisely to sort through ideas and lay the groundwork can help give you the confidence to dive headfirst into that big, scary goal.
And if you can’t write down your thoughts, consider purchasing a digital voice recorder. Don’t worry, we won’t judge you for talking to yourself in the car.
4. Professional (or personal) development. Jump on the phone with your mentor, coordinate an informational interview, listen to an industry podcast or catch up on your Google Reader. Try to figure out a way to do at least one small task a week during your commute to reach your goals, whether they be personal or for work.
5. Unwind. While knocking out your to-do list feels great, your commute doesn’t have to productive all the time. Sometimes that half-hour drive to work is ideal for relaxing. Consider your commute crucial “me time.”
My absolute favorite part of my day is when I’m in the car at 7 a.m. laughing my ass off listening to the Preston and Steve Show. I’m even guilty of staying in my car in the parking lot at work to catch a few extra minutes of this hilarious talk show. Once or twice a week, I spend my afternoon commute chatting with a friend; it’s our weekly catch-up date, and makes driving home in annoying traffic a breeze.
How do you make your commute bearable?
Jessica Lawlor is a public relations professional in Philadelphia. In her free time, she manages a book review and writing blog and is currently writing a novel.