You don’t have to dread your morning commute. What if, instead of muttering at the traffic, a slow train, or slowdowns, you did things that set you up for a great day at work? Here are five things you can do to make your morning commute productive instead of a monumental waste of time. Oh, and I’ve also included ideas to help you relax (as much as you can) during your commute!
Create a to-do list for your day
If you’re carpooling or riding a bus or train to work, you can use your commute time to set up your day. When you invest time in creating a plan for your day ahead of time, you set yourself up for success. So why not do it while you’re commuting? You can write your to-do list in a notebook, or you can use any one of several apps created for that purpose. I use Nozbe, an app based on the best-selling productivity book Getting Things Done by David Allen. Several of my friends use To-Doist and Evernote. Most of these apps have free versions so you can give them a test drive to see what fits the way you work.
Listen to podcasts.
Regardless of how you commute, you can listen to podcasts. You can listen to a podcast about work topics including PR, technology, productivity, and leadership. Popular business podcasts include The HBR Channel from the Harvard Business Review (the HBR is the standard in business research and information); Getting Things Done (from David Allen, author of the book from #1); The Chalene Show about productivity and improving your life; or Happier with Gretchen Rubin, a podcast about habits (this is my favorite podcast – I never miss it).
Expand your horizons
You can also listen to podcasts that entertain you or expand your horizons. There’s the Stuff You Should Know podcast; Too Embarrassed To Ask, where hosts answer questions about technology; Her Money, about managing your money; or The TED Radio Hour from NPR, each episode of which has a theme that is explored through excerpts from TED Talks and interviews with speakers. I co-host a podcast myself, Uniquely Brilliant, where we discuss strategies for owning your uniqueness and living into your brilliance.
New to podcasts?
If you’re new to podcasts, just think of them as on-demand radio shows that can be downloaded to your smartphone, tablet, or laptop. Podcasts are free on all platforms!
The links in this article go to the individual podcast’s website. To listen on iPhones or iPads, you’ll need to use the iTunes app that came installed on your equipment. For Android phones and tablets, you’ll use Google Play Music’s new podcast feature.
Spend time in positive self-talk
It’s easy to spend our time telling ourselves what we could have done better – but instead of re-hashing the things that didn’t turn out the way you wanted, use at least one day week to go over the things you’re doing right. If you’re on a bus or train, write those things down. If you’re driving, say them out loud.
Recognizing your own successes and claiming them will help you become more self-confident at work. As you think about those successes, go over the circumstances that made them possible. Were you working on a certain task or with certain people? Was it a group project or were you working on your own? When you look at your successes and examine how they happened, you make it easier to repeat those successes. You can be on the alert for opportunities to recreate those types of successes.
Take a break and listen to your favorite jams
Sometimes the best way to be productive is to take a break and not think about work at all. So create a couple of playlists for your commute. One could have your favorite head-banging, energy-boosting music. You can crank up the volume in your car or on your headphones and rock out. Of course, if you’re driving, make sure it’s a safe volume! You’ll arrive at work energized and ready to go.
Also create a playlist of soothing, relaxing music that helps you chill. When you’re stuck in one of those endless traffic jams, or the bus has broken down, or the train is late, you can listen to your music and stay calm. You’ll arrive at work in a more relaxed frame of mind.
Added bonus: when you take a break from thinking about work, you make space for new ideas and insights to find you!
Listen to books on CDs or apps
Feel like you should be reading more? Well, here’s your chance. Most books are available on tape or on apps like Audible and i-Books. You can choose from best-selling novels, self-help, motivation, productivity, science, philosophy, or how-to’s. Try listening to a memoir recorded by the author, like the late Joan Rivers narrating her memoir Still Talking. Sometimes it’s easier to listen to that book you’ve been meaning to read than it is to carve out time to sit down and read it!
You can turn your commute into a classroom through The Great Courses college-level audio courses. With selections like Optimizing Brain Fitness, Scientific Secrets for a Powerful Memory, and The Everyday Gourmet: Rediscovering the Lost Art of Cooking, there’s a course for everyone.
Make your commute productive!
With a little planning and any of these five tips, you can change your commute from a waste of time into productive session that helps you get ready to enjoy your workday. Which one are you going to try? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to follow us on social media for more great productivity tips.