How to Stay Productive During Your Morning Commute

Mon, Apr 23, 2012


Unfortunately there’s not much you can do when you’re behind the wheel to make your commute less frustrating or feel like you’ve accomplished something useful during your time spent in gridlock. While some people use their time in the car to apply makeup, catch up on phone calls, or even check their Facebook wall, none of these are very safe activities since they can take your eyes and your attention off the road (and some of them are likely to break hands-free laws in your state). However, if you are one of the many people that has decided to do something good for the environment (and your sanity) by joining a carpool or taking public transportation to work, there are plenty of ways you can use your morning (and evening) commute to stay productive and help to make your free time a little freer.

  1. Read. You might not have time to sit and watch the morning news, but you can get a subscription to a local or national paper as a way to stay apprised of current events. You may also want to read industry-related periodicals as a way to remain well-informed of advances and happenings in your field. Or perhaps you’d rather relax with some classic fiction or a fashion mag. Whatever you choose to read, this activity will help to keep your mind sharp and focused, and possibly give you time for other activities later on that you can’t take on your commute.
  2. Catch up on correspondence. Whether you’re penning birthday cards and a letter to your mom or using your smartphone to catch up on emails, the morning commute could provide you with the down time you need to stay connected. You might also get in touch with or reach out to contacts in your professional network as a way to keep the door open for future business opportunities (never a bad idea in a recession).
  3. Pay bills. You can’t take chores like the dishes or laundry with you on the train, but you can definitely bring a clipboard and a stack of bills (or do online bill pay) when someone else is driving. And it’s one less thing you’ll have to do this weekend.
  4. Plan a trip. Planning to go places while you’re going somewhere? Insanity! In truth, pulling everything together for a family trip (or planning any major event for that matter) can be extremely time-consuming, what with tracking down vendors, comparison shopping, and attending to all the little details. So start by setting up a Pinterest board, pinning all your ideas, narrowing them down, and then making the reservations, all courtesy of your WiFi hotspot on your way to work.
  5. Sleep. When you’re rising early and going to bed late, you’re probably not getting all the rest you need. So instead of using your commute to get extra work done (time that you’re not getting paid for anyway) why not use this extra hour to catch a few zees? It may not sound very productive, but being well-rested can actually help to give you the focus and energy you’ll need to perform at your peak throughout the rest of the day. And you don’t need to haul a trailer and pay for caravan insurance to squeeze in a cat nap on the way to the office. Just lean your chair back, play some soothing music on your iPod, and drift off to dreamland while somebody else does the driving.
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