How to Make the Most of Your Commute Time

If you’re like most working folks, you probably are not so fond of long commute times and bumper-to-bumper traffic. In fact, I might take a gander and say you hate it. You despise it. You wish it was a living thing just so you could kill it. If you were married to it, you would divorce it, and take the house, the car, and all the money, as well.

But alas, there’s only so much we can do about this situation. It is like getting your seasonal allergies whenever spring comes around. You can’t stop it from happening, but you can treat it and make it less painful and irritating.

Here are 4 stress-free ways to make the most of your commute time:

  1. Audio Books. Listening to music, the radio, or your favorite CDs is surely one way to pass the time while stuck in rush hour traffic. Listening to an audio book and actually learning something (e.g., a language tape) or listening to a really good story being read out loud is another alternative. Much like how young children enjoy being read to at bedtime, apparently, we’ve never grown out of it as adults. I’ve recently checked out a whole stack of audio books from the library, for the sole purpose of listening to them in the car. Fascinating how there are so many audio books nowadays. You can check out classic novels, literature, poetry, fiction, non-fiction, memoirs, short stories, and a whole slew of audio books covering myriad topics, popular books, and authors. This section in the library was long ignored by me until I had heavy commute times closing in on 3.5 hours a day. Finally, I couldn’t take the silence anymore–literally. I had grown so weary of listening to the same music on the radio or the same CDs that I just turned off everything and sat in traffic in silence. Well, as much silence as one can render at least. Why not use this time to get into a book you’ve been wanting to “read” for so long? Here’s your opportunity.
  2. Reading. Now I certainly do not encourage reading while driving a car because that would inevitably be a very bad idea. This is more for those who commute by public transportation. I know many people who do all their reading on their long commutes to and from work on the Metra or the El. In fact, that’s the only place and time they do their reading. Which is fine. So long as they are reading. Why do I advocate reading so much? Because books are awesome. What can I say? I’m a true book worm nerd at heart. So grab a few books that you’ve been putting off for a year, telling yourself you’ll get around to it but in reality, you really won’t, and start reading during your commute!
  3. Brainstorming. This is similar to letting your mind wander but instead of hapless daydreaming, you are consciously focusing on a certain event, topic, plan, project, dream, anything you can think of that you want to accomplish or do. I’ve done this countless numbers of times, ranging from my decision to apply to graduate school to practicing my interviewing skills. It’s obviously worked, now having my graduate degree and a new job to boot. Now if I could only think of ways to find a good boyfriend …
  4. Daydreaming. This is fun. Let your mind wander wherever it may go, but not too far, since you still have to concentrate on driving! Some people daydream more than others, including during work meetings, phone conferences, and even in the midst of conversations! However, what I am recommending is the daydreaming that goes on during your commute. This is where you can really start to think. Think about your dreams. Do you even have any? If not, now’s your opportunity to brainstorm (see point 3) what dreams you have for yourself. Heck, I’m still doing that. I certainly have more immediate goals, like making sure I make enough money to pay rent, and to continue kicking ass in karate. But what about my dreams if time and money were of no concern to me? Those are the types of dreams I’m talking about. The ones where you really let loose and aim high. After all, this is partially what this blog is all about anyway.

Obviously, if you live super close to work or work at home and don’t have to suffer the horrific commute times your peers might, then these tips may not apply to you. Adapt to it. Use your time wisely. You only get one go at this life, so live your life and enjoy. Don’t stress too much over the long commutes, if you can. It’s just not worth your energy.

  • Jonathan

    5. Carpool with someone who can help you speak another language. =)

    Yeah, we only get one go in our life, so wasting so much precious time in commute without doing anything is a waste of life. Reading on a train/plane is a really really good practice.

    Though, this morning I saw someone READING while she’s driving ON THE HIGHWAY…… O_o

  • Castles in the Air

    That is when she needs to read the post on how NOT to multi-task! Yikes!

blog comments powered by Disqus