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WORKPLACE / JUN. 18, 2014
version 3, draft 3

How To Make Your Morning/Afternoon Commute Productive and Calm


A new report came out earlier this month from The Road Information Program (TRIP) and it projected that traffic in the United States would likely worsen as the economy improves and people return to the workforce. Its study also discovered that Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu, Seattle, San Jose and New York maintained the moniker as the most congested cities.

Congestion within the U.S. is so bad that the average commuter loses nearly two days (38 hours) each year as well as doling out more than $800 a year in additional costs. Another fact that the report highlighted was that Tuesday is the worst morning commute of the week, while Thursday is the worst afternoon commute of the week.

This report put the commuting process into context. What can commuters do about it? Well, when it comes to traffic, nothing much because that has more to do with public policy. However, when it comes to how a commuter can handle the traffic and congestion then that’s a whole different story.

Here are five ways to make your morning and afternoon commute to work more productive and calm than it is now:

Learn Something, Educate Yourself

Instead of playing the gas, brake, honk and screaming game, take the initiative of learning something new and educating yourself. This can be done by learning a foreign language, such as by utilizing Learn In Your Car or the Behind the Wheel series, listening to TED Talks series or understanding European history through an on-tape lecture.

Who knows? Perhaps enhancing your brain power can give your career a boost. Those 38 hours a year can pay dividends in the end.

Play a Game

This might seem like something for children, but adults can also play games while they drive (no, not on your phone). There are numerous games for commuters: license plate poker (forming poker hands from the characters on license plates), Slug-a-Bug (keeping track of how many Volkswagen Beetles are on the road from home to work and back) and Count The... (see how many telephone poles you can count or how many drivers are on their phones as they’re behind the wheel).

Deep Breathing Exercises

Heading to work and home is one of the most frustrating experiences in the Western world. Of course, it doesn’t have to be if you take part in deep breathing exercises. Instead of stressing out, insert a CD or MP3 file and participate in these sessions. Or, research techniques before your travels and perform them for the next half an hour.

A New Route

Rather than getting bored and discontented with the same old routine, research a new route you can take to get to work or to get home. Even if requires you to leave home an additional 20 minutes before your usual time or it takes an extra 15 minutes to return home, it’s worth it because it helps your anxiety levels and the change improves your brain.

Polite Driving

Let’s be honest: the majority of drivers have had road rage at one time or another. If you’re more angry than happy during your commute then try to modify your behavior by practicing random acts of kindness. This can be done by allowing other drivers to go in front of you, if someone has a flat tire or their battery died then offer to be some assistance and/or compliment a fellow driver at a stop light.

Read, er, Listen to the News

This doesn’t necessarily mean reading the local newspaper or turning on the radio to listen to local news reports. What a commuter can do is to sign up and receive a daily audio digest of a major newspaper, which usually runs about an hour and covers 15 to 20 of the most important news stories in the world right now.

A commute doesn’t have to be the most dreadful part of your day. By incorporating these tips into your workday, you can feel more accomplished and smarter during your trip into the inevitable traffic jams. Moreover, be safe, be careful and be happy.

How do you remain safely productive or calm during your morning and afternoon commute? Let us know in the comment section.

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