By Nicole Tinkham
Many people find that the worst part of the day is surprisingly the commute to work, not the actual workday itself. It doesn’t matter how you get there or how long it takes, morning traffic is enough to drive you insane. A normal five minute drive could take 20 minutes depending on what time you leave the house. How crazy is that? This kind of frustration can set the mood for the entire day. Instead of letting backed up traffic or the boring bus ride predict how to rest of the day will go, check out these 10 ways to be productive so you can have a happier morning and day.
Ever want to learn a new language or skill but feel like you have no time to get it done? There are podcasts on just about any subject matter you can think of and your morning commute is the perfect opportunity to fit it into your schedule. Listen to it in the car or use your ear buds on the bus or train.
2. Reading (audio if driving)
Reading is another activity that busy professionals rarely have time for (so they think). Whatever you do, DO NOT read books while driving! Leave that to the bus and train riders. An alternative you can try out are audio books. You have a choice- you can listen to boring morning radio or you can listen to an engaging book. What do you think is the best use of your time? For those that are able to read on the commute, a Kindle will become your best friend. Or you can always use your oh so versatile smartphone.
3. Organize your inbox
A cluttered inbox leads to a chaotic start to your day. It seems like sifting through emails and sending responses takes up half the morning. This simple task can be done anywhere, even before you get to the office. Use your extra commute time to open up your email and get it organized so you can start your workday as soon as you arrive.
4. Sing loudly for all to hear
There’s purpose behind this one, we promise! Turn up your favorite song (preferably in your car without any passengers) and sing your heart out. Singing boosts your endorphins which relieves stress. Less stress = better workday. You may also want to do this on your way home on stressful days as well.
5. Make a mental gratitude list
The commute to work can be stressful whether you’re stuck in traffic or on a crowded bus. Take a deep breath and list off all the great things you have in life. The commute to work is unpleasant but it’s a small price to pay for all the other amazing things a job can bring.
6. Make a to-do list
We always recommend starting the day with a to-do list. You can either make your list the day prior or the morning of. The important thing is to have an idea of what your day should look like. This will help you stay on track and meet your goals. Sure, unexpected tasks are bound to pop up but having structure will help you stay focused. We recommend getting a to-do list app on your phone so you can reference it at any time.
7. Catch up with family and friends
Let us know if this sounds about right. You tell yourself you’ll give your family and friends a call once you get home from work when you can actually sit down and relax. Then all of a sudden you have a million more things on your plate with no time to take a breather. Next thing you know, it’s been months since you’ve talked to them last. Here’s what to do: Make those phone calls on the way to or from work. It’ll make your commute go much quicker and instantly put you in a better mood for the day.
If you’re the one doing the driving, we don’t recommend meditating. You can take a deep breath and work on clearing your mind but don’t take your eyes off the road! If however, you’re the passenger, close your eyes and completely clear your head. Say goodbye to all the stress, worry, doubt, and drama going on in your life. Putting yourself in a positive mood first thing in the morning will greatly improve your day.
Not everyone has the luxury of being able to bike or walk to work but if you can do it, why not? It saves on gas plus you can squeeze in your workout for the day. Another bonus is not having to deal with traffic. Just watch out for drivers when you’re crossing the street! You may want to take the back roads if possible.
10. Play games
If nothing else on this list appeals to you, we’re sure you’ll be down for this one. Ever hear of the game Candy Crush or Words with Friends? These aren’t just good (and addictive) time wasters. They actually challenge the brain so they aren’t a complete waste of your time. We do however recommend stopping once you get to work which is extremely difficult to do! 🙂
It’s obvious your time is valuable which is why it’s important to understand how to manage your time wisely and get in as much as you can during down times. You can also use these ideas when you’re waiting in the doctor’s office or anywhere else. Throughout the day ask yourself “Is this the best use of my time”? You’ll be surprised at how much you can get done in just a few minutes here and there.
How do YOU survive the dreaded morning commute? Let us know in the comments below or over on our Facebook page!