7 Ways to Maximize Your Morning Commute
Depending on which form of transport you prefer, the morning commute can take up a significant chunk of your day. Calculate how long it takes from when you walk out the door each morning until you return at night, and you might be surprised by how much time goes by—time that could be spent setting yourself up for a successful day. In fact, according to a report from the Texas Transportation Institute, American rush-hour commuters in 2014 spent 6.9 billion hours stuck in traffic or about 42 hours per commuter per year. So it's high time you maximized your daily commute. Scroll down for some of our suggestions to ramp up your productivity.
Whether you're driving, biking, walking, or catching public transport, podcasts are a great way to pass the time while you learn something new. We love The Frame with L.A. film writer John Horn for film, TV, art and music news as well as insightful interviews with top Hollywood stars; tune into #GirlBoss Radio with Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso, who quizzes fellow world-class girl bosses for their career advice and lessons learned; Lena Dunham's Women of the Hour chats to other inspiring femmes about friendship, love, work, and our bodies; if you're into tech, then tap into Kara Swisher's Recode Decode for conversations with some of Silicon Valley's most exciting tech entrepreneurs and industry heads; and of course don't miss our editor's favorite, Tim Ferris, who loves to deconstruct world performers and the tools they use. There's literally hundreds of podcasts to discover, and you'll soon be addicted to them.
Finding the time to squeeze in that 30 minutes of exercise each day can be challenging. For most of us, the 45-hour workweek is more like 50 or 60, which sees any kind of physical activity slip further down the list of priorities. So what if you swapped your usual car commute for a walk, bike, or run to work instead? You can double the productivity and listen to an inspiring podcast, audio book, or meeting notes as you go. You don't have to do it every day, but see if you can change it up at least two to three times a week. You could even organize a group of your colleagues to join you.
For some reason, some of my best ideas happen on my way to and from the office. Perhaps it's because your brain is fresh in the morning or relaxed enough after you knock off to let the ideas flow. Either way, this is always when they happen for me, so I always keep a notebook or my phone handy to jot them all down. For the commuters who take public transport to work, buy a new notepad that's just for this purpose so you can keep all your big ideas in one place. For those who drive or walk, you can use the recording feature on your phone and take verbal notes. Then you can build on them and use them as brainstorming tools each day.
There are so many new things I would love to learn if only I had the time. Well, the morning commute is the perfect opportunity to learn new skills or improve the ones you already have. Successful leaders never stop learning, so neither should you. There are plenty of great books on Audible.com that are like mini courses on business and tool kits for entrepreneurs.
How good are to-do lists? Our CEO Hilary Kerr loves them, and she swears by Evernote for writing and storing them. Just imagine how much time you could save if you wrote a structured to-do list before you hit the office. Then as soon as you got in, you could get started on the work that needs to be done in order of priority and, potentially, leave the office on time. Either way, this simple exercise will set your day up for success, with less stress.
There's always a colleague you don't know that well or a new hire you need to learn more about, so why not invite that person to take the morning commute with you? Not only will you strengthen the team, but you'll also gather new ideas, contacts, and information that could help your own role. On the days when you do travel solo, download LinkedIn on your phone or tablet, or another networking app that you prefer.
For those who prefer to use the morning commute as a time to detox from work, how about trying a mindfulness app? I personally use Headspace while I'm driving to help clear my mind of negative thoughts or stress and bring my attention back to the present moment. The app calls itself "a gym membership for your mind," and I would definitely agree with that. But there are plenty of other great ways to practice mindfulness. You can keep a gratitude journal and write down the things you are thankful for each morning or night, or journaling is another great way to release built-up emotions and random thoughts.
What do you do on your morning commute? Is it a time to be productive, or do you prefer to use it for relaxation instead? Share your thoughts below.