Commuting can be terrible—an annoying, uncomfortable waste of time. But it is also an opportunity to multitask in your busy life. Whether you’re driving or taking public transport (or even walking or biking), here are 10 ways you can turn a negative into a positive.
1. Listen to Podcasts
Take a little downtime and catch up on all the reading you aren’t doing. Try a podcast or even an audiobook (on headphones or your car stereo). Your commute time will fly by and you’ll learn stuff! Plus you’ll get all the pleasure of reading without having to have your hands free.
2. Discover New Music
Bored of your same old Spotify playlists? Tired of your music and not sure where to turn for your new favorite tunes? Use your commute to try new artists. If you have wi-fi access while commuting, try a streaming station. If not, make a list of bands you hear about on the radio or at work and look for them on Spotify and download a playlist to your phone. If you like it, keep it! If not, delete!
3. Practice Self Care
Your commute might be the only time you have “to yourself” in the week. Make yourself a priority and do something for your mental well being. Try doing gratitude journaling exercises, or just thinking about things that are going really well in your life. Try a simple meditation technique. Or deep breathing. Try giving yourself time to read something for pleasure and tune the rest of the world out—provided you don’t miss your stop. Or use the time to connect via phone or email (provided you aren’t driving) to a friend or family member you don’t get to see enough. If all else fails, just try to decompress a bit and cut your stress.
4. Leave Earlier So You Can Slow Down
Give yourself a little extra time so you’re not always racing to be on time. If you know you can take your time, you can linger a bit and smell the roses, so to speak—or the coffee! Take a moment to sit and sip a latte. Or enjoy not being panicked when you run into traffic. Slowing down a little can really be a grounding way to start your day.
5. Check in With Your Work Progress
Maybe evaluating your progress weekly is too daunting a task. But if you’re stuck on a train or in traffic, you can always do a little self-review and see how you did meeting your goals that day. And strategize how you can improve tomorrow. Make sure you’re actually working through your top priorities, and not just spending your day on less important stuff.
6. Mix Up Your Route Once in a While
If your commute is too long or annoying, try to find a better workaround! Thinking outside your rut can actually give your brain a boost, and you might just find a way to make your life that much more pleasant! Keep in mind a longer route that’s less annoying or has fewer stops could make all the difference.
7. Brainstorm Solutions to Your Problems
Use the time to brainstorm or troubleshoot problems at home or at work. Take advantage of being alone with your own thoughts and start strategizing. You never know, the next big answer might come while you’re just spacing out and giving your brain a break.
8. Sit in Silence
Maybe your life moves too fast and you’re already optimizing every waking moment to get the most out of your time. Maybe you read and listen and engage too much. Maybe you try to cram too much in. Try turning off your phone, your music, putting away that book or magazine and just sit there not doing anything at all. Concentrate only on getting where you need to go safely. You and your fellow commuters will all benefit.
Be present in the moment. You don’t need special props or techniques. Just be where you are, take a few breaths, and maybe shut your eyes. Give your brain the recharge it deserves.
10. Ask If You Can Skip It
All that said, if you have the opportunity to work remotely, or could convince your boss, then you wouldn’t have to commute every day. Make the argument about how much more productive you could be in that time. It’s always worth a shot! If that’s not an option, consider moving closer, or carpooling. Anything to condense or cut out this part of your daily grind.