Taking advantage of your commute is important. To ensure you’re being proactive during that time, take a look at what you can do to better this part of your day. In this article, we include tips to make the most of your daily commute, and also include a bonus tip on how to avoid your commute altogether.
In 2018, average commute times in the United States hit record highs at 27 minutes each way.
If you live in a state with congested and dangerous road conditions, those commutes may only be getting worse. This is why it’s important for you to find ways to utilize this time that would otherwise be wasted.
We know that commutes can vary in length and demand for your attention. If you drive alone, for example, your attention span is limited by the need to watch the road. This means you obviously can’t read a book during your commute.
So, what are people spending their commute times thinking about? In a survey, many Americans reported they are “almost always” thinking about work during their commute.
Don’t spend this time stressing about work, but use this time wisely, whether you are a passenger or a driver. If you ride public transportation, there may be more time to dedicate to reading or to take on other attentive tasks.
Whatever you decide to take up your time with, be sure to categorize what needs to take up your attention span.
6 Tips for Optimizing Your Commute
- Listen to a podcast
- Focus your thoughts
- Check out an audiobook
- Stay connected
- Spend time reading
- Try working remotely
1. Listen to a Podcast
There’s a podcast for that.
Whether you are a software engineer, sales associate, marketer, or any other role within the company, there is almost certainly a podcast hosted by experts in your field. If you need to unwind by listening to your favorite influencer talk about life or stay up-to-date on breaking news, there are podcasts for that as well.
Podcasts are a great format for commuters with their long-form, open-ended discussions in the interview style.
In a study of 10 million audio podcasts, the average length was a little more than 43 minutes, a great length for finishing an episode or interview within a single day’s commute.
2. Focus Your Thoughts
While there are guided meditations that could bring peace of mind to your commute, deep thought and breathing are also always available to you without any supplemental materials.
Whether you want to use this time to work through a problem in your head, related to work or otherwise, this is a great time to do so.
For example, if you spend your commute worrying about the day ahead, it will most likely negatively impact your ability to achieve the goals you set for yourself.
Instead of worrying, try meditating. If peace and quiet hurt more than they help, put on a soothing playlist. Try out instrumental music or soft ballads.
As long as the quality of air isn’t tainted by the exhaust of congested traffic, deep breathwork can help calm the mind before or after a workday.
3. Check Out an Audiobook
The rules of the road and dedicated lanes on the highway allow drivers to drive without the constant fear of someone making a life-threatening maneuver.
The structure of driving laws and infrastructure allows the mind to stay relatively at ease while driving. This is why driving is the perfect time to consume the information of an audiobook.
Whether for education or entertainment, audiobooks are the perfect solution to optimize your commute.
4. Stay Connected
Your commute is a perfect time to call a friend, family member, client, or colleague.
Networking is an important strategy in business and one that many people assume must be done in-person. Keeping in touch with your network is a great way to stay in the loop and top of mind when big career changes or decisions are made for you by others.
A fun challenge could be reconnecting with a different person from your contact book every day.
You can also call a customer support line for that product you’ve been meaning to figure out or make that appointment you’ve been putting off. Staying connected can be productive as well.
5. Spend Time Reading
To be clear: this is a type for only riders. If you are lucky enough to take public transportation, ride-hailing apps, or you have a personal chauffeur, you have time to read.
Always have a book, trade magazine, or tablet handy to keep your mind engaged during your commute. Just think about how many more books you could read every year with almost an entire hour of extra reading time every day.
6. Try Working Remotely
There are many benefits for businesses to establish a day for employees to work remotely.
Businesses can benefit from the boost in morale when employees are able to work from the comfort of their own homes with additional time added to their day.
Some businesses are wary to allow employees to work from home because they feel productivity and collaboration will suffer.
A two-year study from Stanford found the opposite, that productivity actually increased when employees were allowed to work from home.
Whether you drive, bike, bus, or walk to work, this time does not need to go to waste. By the time you arrive at the office, you’ll be wiser, rested, and ready to get to work.
Use Your Commute Effectively
Your commute shouldn’t be an outlet for stress; it should be a time for relaxation (especially when there is no traffic). It’s important to find boundaries with your thoughts in and out of the office.
Next time you’re driving (or riding) to work, try one of these helpful and thought-provoking tips. Thinking freely will only benefit your work ethic in the long run.