Utilizing Your Commute


Today's post is written by our Editor, Stephanie K, who shares her thoughts on how to utilize your commute.  She works in sales in the appliance industry and lives in Chicago, IL.

Many of us spend a portion of our day commuting to and from work. Whether you’re one of the lucky ones whose commute is less than 20 minutes or more like me spending closer to an hour or more each way, that time is tacked onto your overall work day and takes away from your personal life. It turns your 8-hour workday into a 10-hour workday. And what are we doing with this time? 

This is valuable time in your day and you should be utilizing it!

I work in sales and drive to clients all around my territory in routes ranging from 30 minutes to 2 hours (each way!). So you could say I spend a lot of time in my car. Because of my lengthy commutes, I have discovered some great ways to utilize this time and learned from some not so great time fillers on a commute.

It’s easy to find unproductive things to do on your commute and trust me I’ve pretty much maxed them out; but making this time productive really pays off.  Here are some of the activities I use to create a productive commute:

Audiobooks: Some of your may be thinking books on tape are mainly for people closer to your parents age but they really are a perfect and productive way to pass the time during your commute.

  • Audible- there is a 30-day free trial and your first book is free! No reason not to at least give it a shot with one book
  • Audiobooks.com- they also offer a 30-day free trial with no strings attached
  • Overdrive.com- essentially allows you to virtually rent audiobooks from your local public library. All you need is a library card.

Podcasts: Whether it’s real-life stories, life hacks, or trendy talk shows, you can find podcasts at almost any length making them ideal for anyone’s commute time. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • The Tim Ferris Show: Tim Ferris, author of “The 4-hour Work Week” , talks to entrepreneurs, authors, scientists, and other highly successful people discussing topics from morning routines, to fitness, to investing, and everything in between.
  • Serial: Probably the most talked about podcast and for me, the podcast that got me into all other podcasts. Serial slowly uncovers one story over the course of the whole season of several episodes. It’s definitely a binge worthy podcast!
  • The Fizzle Show: This podcast has a talk show feel and discusses productivity, motivation, business, etc. The hosts are funny and feed off each other a lot, which makes for a pretty entertaining show.
  • TED Radio Hour: If you’re anything like me you already LOVE TED Talks. This podcasts highlights specific TED speakers, their perspectives and dives a bit deeper into the topics they discussed on stage.

Catching up with a friend/family member: This may be one of the most underrated ways to utilize your commute time. People put off talking to family members and friends because they’re too ”busy”. Many people don’t even think about their commute time as an option for this but starting or ending your day with a 30 minute conversation with a friend or family member can be an easy way brighten your day and build stronger relationships. 

Although I love being productive on my commute, I still need a less productive commute every now and then to just be with my thoughts. Here are some perfectly OK but also less productive activities you can engage in during your commute:

  • Listening to the latest song on the radio and memorizing all of the words
  • Tuning into a talk radio show where they have people call in and talk about their relationship problems
  • Staring out the window aimlessly

Whether you’re being productive or not, you have to commute to work most days so having options on how to fill the time will change your mindset from dreading the commute to taking that time for yourself.