Making the Most of Your Commute

Ask most people about the worst part of their day, and many will tell you about their commute. What if your daily grind could actually become a life-changing source of renewal? Okay, that might be a stretch, but here are some suggestions beyond audio books to add some purpose to your trip to and from work.

Forbes recently reported that the average American commutes just over 25 minutes to work each way. Add it up, and we’re spending weeks each year commuting. Given the energy required to perform at our best, we can’t afford to start the day stressed out.

Now, everyone knows that audio books represent a great way add some learning to your travel time. In fact, audio learning can now go well beyond books to include seminars, sermons, and speeches, and you can take your culture clout up a notch by learning a new language or listening to online lectures on iTunes U. But, if you are looking for ideas beyond the tried and true audio learning option, try these alternatives.

For drivers: Without taking your eyes and attention from the road, try these options:

1. Talk to special people: Where it’s still legal, a hands free call to special friends or family can keep you connected to the people who mean the most to you, without burning time off the clock with personal emails or texts. Of course, there is nothing to say that you can’t catch up on voicemail and do a little work by phone, but keep in mind that your best first impression with customers probably requires the concentration and silence of a call from your office.

2. Laugh: Not making it out to the comedy clubs often amidst the Great Recession and most frenzied time in history? Add a dose of professional comedy to your trip to work via CD or satellite radio. Laughter is a great way to peel back your stress level, and it might even make you more popular with your clients and colleagues.

3. Discover: Ever wondered what happens one street over or down on the surface roads? Find out. Sure you may tack on 5 minutes to your drive, but try taking a different way to work a couple of times each week throughout the year. Cut through a neighborhood. Park, get out, and go for a walk mid-commute.

4. Pay It Forward: Just as police officers keep a constant vigil for law breakers, turn the tables on your drive by watching out for opportunities to make someone’s day. Pay the toll for the person behind you, let someone cut in (who really cares?), wave, or drop off some food to someone in need. A random act of kindness may be just the spark to ignite a great day.

5. Practice: Do you ever talk to customers or engage other team members? (most of us do)  Well, how often do you practice what you are going to say? You’d look a little nuts pacing around the break room or parking deck psyching yourself up for a perfect pitch, but mid-commute, no one knows what you’re doing.  Let the car be your sanctuary. Practice your delivery to improve your delivery.

In part 2 of this series, we’ll pass along a few ideas for those who get to work by some means other than a car. If you are such a lucky person, we’ll next present some ideas to make your commute more impactful.