Americans put 3.15 trillion miles on their vehicles in 2015, but Federal spending hasn’t increased to match the growing number of cars on the road. As populations continue to grow in many of the country’s biggest cities, this means workers may spend more time sitting in traffic each day, which will inevitably cut into productivity.
If you’re one of the many commuters who finds yourself stuck in traffic Monday through Friday, it’s important to find ways to make the most of that time. Not only will you help prepare for your day, but you’ll also arrive at work in a better state of mind than if you’d spent that time stressing. Here are a few things you can do to make the most of your daily commute.
1. Listen to audiobooks.
Audiobooks are one of the best ways to multitask while driving, especially if your commute is fairly boring. But be aware that audiobooks can be distracting, especially if you choose a compelling work of fiction. To minimize your risk of an accident, choose a nonfiction work such as a self-help book. You’ll avoid getting lost in a story while also gathering information that can make you an emotionally healthier, more productive worker.
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2. Relax with classical music.
Music has been proven to reduce stress, especially soothing tunes like those found in the classical music genre. Find a classical music station or download your favorite songs to your device to listen to during your commute each day. You’ll likely find that you’re better able to avoid the stresses that put your mind in the wrong place for the first hour or two of your day.
3. Set goals for the day.
A long, boring commute is usually the best time to think about what you’ll do when you finally arrive at work. Focus on what you hope to accomplish that day and, on your commute home, evaluate whether you reached those goals or not. This isn’t the time to make a to-do list with plans to check items off throughout the day. Instead, look at the bigger picture of what you hope to accomplish during those eight hours to make the most of them.
4. Catch up on the news.
That endless chatter coming from your local radio stations can actually prove useful during your day. Listening to the news, sports, and even the weather forecast can give you material for small talk throughout the day. You never know when you’ll be seated next to a client who wants to discuss the latest big news story. If you can engage in the conversation, fully informed, you’ll be much more likely to make a good impression than if the conversation fizzled because you hadn’t listened to the news recently.
5. Be a passenger.
You may be attached to your car, but being behind the wheel limits you substantially. If you take the subway, train, or carpool with others who work near your building, you can use the commute to catch up on emails, sort through paperwork, or organize your day. This will give your workday a jumpstart, ensuring that by the time you arrive at work, you’re ready to start checking items off your to-do list, giving you an edge over other professionals in your field.
Often getting to work each day can be so grueling, it makes it difficult to focus once you get to work. If you can somehow put that time toward more productive activities, you may be able to start your workday on a more positive note. You may also find that you start to look forward to your commute as a way to relax and spend some time thinking.