Making the Most of Your Commute to Work
Granted my morning commute is a lot shorter than it used to be because I telecommute, now. However, I still spend about an hour in the car every morning driving my son to and from private school.
On the way to school, I like to take advantage of the time my son and I have together, just the two of us to catch up and talk about what we’re looking forward to during the day. Oftentimes, my son will ask me to use the Pandora radio app on my iPhone to play his favorite: Jack Johnson. Other days we’ll listen to the Disney station on Sirius/XM.
However, on the drive back home I like to take advantage of that commute time to get a head start on my day, to connect with family and friends, and a leg up on my career. It’s my hope that sharing these ideas with you will make your commute a little less frustrating, a little more productive, and in some cases...more fun.
When there’s a business book I want to read to stay ahead of the game with in my industry or within my role, I always check to see if there’s an audiobook version available first. Most audiobooks are about six hours in length, so by listening to one on that half hour drive back everyday, I could get through one book in a couple of weeks. Most people I know here in the DC Metro area commute anywhere from eight to fifteen hours a week and could get through a book a lot faster. It’s great way to stay sharp, develop professionally, and doesn’t cost a whole lot. Google “audiobooks” to find downloads, some companies even offer a trial subscription with a deep discount to start so you don’t have a lot to lose by trying this.
If the thought of sitting through a whole book sounds tedious but you still want to use your commute time to hone your business skills, there are companies that offer abstract versions of the books delivered in an MP3 format. These are summaries of those same business books, condensed in more digestible lengths for those who have shorter attention spans. Google “business book summaries” to get started.
Sometimes our first reaction to a request for a conference call or phone meeting during our morning commute is to decline and ask that it be pushed forward when we know we’ll have arrived at the office. Why not say yes to that phone call during your commute time. Of course, I recommend this with the caveat that you do so with a hands-free device. A lot of newer model cars also offer Bluetooth integration with the cars’ speakers, I personally use this feature a lot and can even voice dial while I’m driving as well.
With that said, these phone calls don’t have to be limited to business calls. While many of my friends’ and family members’ don’t complete jive with mine. A lot of us are commuting or doing school drop-off around the same time. And for a few of us, this is the most opportune to time to catch up because our days and evenings are even more hectic. And I’ll admit, sometimes a great call with my mom, stepmom, or mother-in-law can motivate me for the rest of the day.
Finally, don’t ever underestimate the power and significance of the alone time the commute allows us. Sure, sitting in traffic is not fun especially when you’re surrounded by people who can’t drive. However, if you shift your mindset a bit, you can turn that alone time into a blissful part of your day when you can recharge. There are days when I turn on the 90s station on my satellite radio and completely rock out, singing along to Ace of Base at the top of my lungs. Who cares that the person in traffic next to me is looking at me like I’m a complete lunatic. It feels good! And it’s a great way to start the day.
Now some of these ideas will work if you take a different mode of transportation to work...some won’t.
What about you? How long is your commute each day and what do you do to make the most of it?