Some people are fortunate enough to only work a few minutes from their house, so their daily commute is short or practically nonexistent. However, if you travel 20 minutes, 30 minutes or longer to get to work every day, this can mean a lot of free time on your hands.
You might spend the majority of this time sitting in traffic trying not to release your inner road rage. There is, however, a bright side. Your daily commute might be the only time you’re able to spend alone. So, rather than sitting frustrated, you should read this article and find ways to make an excellent use of this time.
1. Learn a New Skill
Whether you’re driving yourself or taking public transportation, your 20 or 30-minute drive to and from work every day offers the perfect opportunity to learn a new skill.
Now, you’re probably wondering how it’s possible to learn a new skill while driving in traffic or sitting on the subway with other morning commuters. Just know that learning a new skill doesn’t have to involve a bunch of books and a highlighter in front of you. If you have a CD player in your car or an auxiliary plug for your MP3 player, you can listen and learn while your drive. Or put on your headphones while you sit on a bus or train.
Maybe you’re considering learning a new language to become more of an asset to your employer. While a textbook provides the foundation, you can supplement by listening to audio lessons in the language you’re learning. Then again, maybe you’re interested in improving your personal finances. There’s the option of downloading podcasts or listening to audiobooks related to the subject. Listening and learning while you ride or drive can also help the time pass quicker, which can make your commute seem a lot shorter.
2. Update Your Calendar
If you wait until you get to the office to start planning your day, you may get a late start and not finish everything by 5 PM. This can result in staying late. If you carpool with coworkers or take public transportation, this is the perfect time to pull out your smartphone and use your calendar to schedule your day. You can even fill your calendar if you’re actually driving to work. Depending on the type of phone you have, you may have a feature that lets you take notes and update your calendar or appointments by only using your voice.
3. Take a Nap
If you had a sleepless night and you know you’re going to have a rough day, you can make the most of your commute by closing your eyes for a few minutes on your commute to work—if you carpool or take public transportation, of course. In some cities, the trains and subways have a quiet section. Passengers are asked to keep necessary chatter and noise to a minimum, allowing others the opportunity to relax, read or sleep. You can put on your headphones and listen to soothing sounds to calm your mind.
As a tip: make sure you set an alarm on your phone so that you wake up before your scheduled stop—just in case you get a little too comfortable and sleep longer than planned. If your commute to and from work is 30 minutes one-way, set an alarm for 20 minutes.
4. Clear Your Inbox
If you rely on public transportation to get to and from work every day, this is a perfect time to clear your inbox and answer emails that have been piling up. Once you step foot in the office, you might be bombarded with telephone calls and meetings, not to mention your daily assignments. And unfortunately, keeping in communication with vendor and clients through email can fall through the cracks.
As a daily routine, address emails while you sit on the subway or train. Use your smart phone to access the Internet and your emails. Or you can use your smart phone as a hotspot and access the Internet on your laptop. You can arrive to the office and jump into your assignments without worrying about emails.
5. Squeeze in a Little Exercise
If it’s a comfortable temperature outside and you’re not worried about getting your clothes sweaty, consider riding your bike to work. Riding a bike in a three-piece suit isn’t the best idea, so this approach is a better fit if your employer allows casual attire.
Riding your bike to work has several benefits. You’re able to squeeze in exercise, which is a plus if you never have time for physical activity due to a busy schedule. Also, riding your bike might result in a faster commute. If your city allows bike riders on the sidewalk, you can ride to work with fewer stops and interruptions. Meanwhile, others sit at traffic lights or wait for traffic jams; this approach can also save you money.
You’ll save on gas since you’re driving your personal vehicle less, and with a bike, you don’t have to pay a fee to park. This is common for employees who work in the city. As a bonus, riding your bike to work every day or several times a week can reduce vehicle wear and tear.
6. Practice a Presentation Out Loud
If you’re a commuter who takes the train, bus or subway, your fellow passengers won’t appreciate you practicing a presentation or taking to yourself. However, if you drive alone and spend a great deal of time sitting in traffic, this is the perfect time to rehearse a presentation out loud.
You can use this 20 or 30 minutes of commute time to finalize your presentation, which can boost your confident and help you feel more comfortable about stepping foot in front of an audience. If you carpool with another person, ask him to listen to your presentation and offer possible suggestions.
7. Brainstorm Ideas with a Coworker
If you live within close vicinity of a coworker you need to meet with, you can carpool to the office and conduct your meeting while you commute. This is an effective strategy if you’re swamped throughout the day and you barely have time to meet face-to-face. This is also a perfect opportunity to get with a coworker and brainstorm or bounce ideas off of each other. By the time you get to the office, you might already have a solution or plan in place for a problem.
This trick saves time and helps both of you become more productive during the day. If you need to have a meeting with more than one of your coworkers, perhaps three or four of you can carpool together. Carpooling is also an option if you need to have a private discussion with a coworker and you want to lower the risk of someone eavesdropping on the conversation.
See Also: 5 Worse Commuter Offenses
The daily commute can be brutal, but fortunately there are ways to make good use of your time. Whether you’re behind the wheel, carpooling or relying on public transportation to get to and from work, these tips will help make the commute faster and get your day off to a good start.
Do you have any other tips on how to get more out of your daily commute? Let us know in the comments section below.