12 Most Efficient Uses of Your Commuting Time

12 Most Efficient Uses of Your Commuting Time

If you’re like me, you spend a lot of time driving. Whether you are simply going to and from work or you are going to meetings or sales calls or interviews or conferences, you spend a frustrating amount of your day behind the wheel. Every minute spent in gridlocked traffic is a minute not invested into improving you business or your professional development. You catch every red light, you go through every speed trap, and you get caught behind every school bus. It never fails. Your precious time is stolen from you by the relentless evil that is commuting.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Driving time can be used to your advantage. Because it’s time that you can’t spend typing up a document or analyzing a spreadsheet or watching a presentation, it’s time that is freed up to devote to activities that may otherwise be neglected. Your driving time might just be the best gift you’ve ever been given.

Here are some ideas to make the best use of that precious gift.

1. Listen to audio books

Poke the Box, the book that had the most significant aspect on my career thus far, was a book I purchased from Audible.com and listened to on my drive to and from work. I have since purchased a slew of audio books that simultaneously kept me busy on my commute and broadened my business knowledge. Sometimes, hearing it can leave a more powerful and lasting impression than reading it.

2. Listen to podcasts

Many business authors and bloggers have weekly podcasts that you can download and listen to. Some of them contain interviews with other professionals, so you can a wide array of insight into business. Check out John Jantsch’s Duct Tape Marketing Podcast to get you started.

3. Listen to YouTube videos

Okay, so you probably shouldn’t be watching videos on YouTube. That could be a little distracting. However, you can start one on your smart phone and just listen in. Many great speakers in business have videos on YouTube. I listened to Guy Kawasaki’s Art of the Start speech on YouTube while I was driving before I even read the book. Dig around and see what you can find.

4. Listen to music

I’m sure you’ve heard of Pandora, and you probably have a nice music collection of your own. Sometimes, nothing can get you into a more positive, upbeat, take-on-the-world sort of mood than some nice tunes. Rock on!

5. Make business calls

You’re going to have to do it some time. Might as well be now. Pick up the phone and start dialing. Set up appointments. Follow up with prospects or customers. Check-in with your boss, colleagues, or employees. Put your Bluetooth to use.

6. Mentally plan out your day

Planning and prioritizing is usually something that falls through the cracks. You barely have enough time to do everything you need to do in a day, let alone take the time to structure it. Driving gives you time to put your tasks in their proper order. Take advantage of it.

7. Think about your long-term goals

We also sometimes get so caught up in our day-to-day activities that we forget to consider where we are going. We forget the big picture. What do we want to ultimately accomplish in our business or in our careers and how are the activities we are engaging in now pushing us in that direction? Driving gives you time to think about it.

8. Practice a presentation

Chances are, wherever you’re going, you’re probably going to have to do speaking of some kind. Whether you have to give an all-out presentation or are just having a conversation, you’re driving time gives you a chance to prepare what you’ll say. While winging it is never a good idea, preparation can be time-consuming. Use your driving time to prepare.

9. Take in the sights

Did you ever stop to look around you while you were driving? Do you even know the places that you pass on your commute? Take a moment to look around and explore your surroundings. Every day and every place is an adventure. Are you experiencing it?

10. Listen to the news

Yes, the news can be negative and disheartening. Admittedly, I hardly ever listen to it. However, it is nice to learn what’s going on in the world beyond our four walls. Tune in to AM radio every now and then and see what’s going on. You might just learn something that has a direct effect on your business or professional goals.

11. Talk to family or friends

You don’t just have to make business calls. Work can be consuming at times and you may not get to see your family or close friends as often as you would like. Try calling them to catch up. They probably won’t expect it, and it might just make their day.

12. Do nothing

Just drive. Relax. Pray. Meditate. Breathe. Every once in a while, you just need to let your thoughts clear and give your mind a break. Sometimes, the most productive thing to do is to allow yourself to do nothing at all. Take a moment, while you’re driving, to stop thinking so hard.

The larger point of this article? We don’t have to waste a second of our lives. We’ve just got to be a little creative. How do you spend your time driving?

Featured image courtesy of K2D2vaca via Creative Commons.

Doug Rice

http://www.douglaserice.com

Douglas E. Rice is a marketer, writer, and researcher who blogs regularly. He is the author of The Curiosity Manifesto, a provocative guide to learning new things and keeping an open mind.

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31 comments
DblDsh
DblDsh

#Efficient uses of your commute time: http://t.co/Clb57F9z RT @IamPramit @terrinakamura @lorimcneeartist @douglaserice

dbvickery
dbvickery

I'm a big fan and practitioner of #4, #5, #6 and #7, Doug. I live in beautiful Denver, so #9 works out well on all those sunny days with a view of the Rockies.

 

And I've gotten better at doing #12 on my outbound trips...just do nothing and let the mind wander.

Wittlake
Wittlake

Hi Doug,

 

I actually blog on my commute. I have a slight advantage: public transit instead of driving. I'm able to draft or completely write the majority of my blog posts during my commute, relatively free of distractions, all on my mobile. Check it out: http://b2bdigital.net/

 

One additional point that adds: the possibilities today, thanks to the power and functionality of mobile devices, are way beyond what we had just a few years ago. I remember syncing news to my Palm every morning using AvantGo, to make productive use of my time. It was a pain and the screen was awful. What mobiles and apps make possible a decade later is pretty incredible.

 

Best,

Eric

AliRichards15
AliRichards15

Some of my journeys driving pass in a blur because my head is busy with other stuff. I find that scary and wonder what would happen if I something required my immediate attention on the road! Having said that I find driving the best place for great ideas and know many who do too. I hate the train because it gives me motion sickness so cannot read but can meditate. So was looking at these thinking that it depended on what your mode of transport was. Great blog.

DPGplc
DPGplc

@IanKnowlson thanks for the RT, have you now got the lucky orgs sorted for the Lean / Six sigma review of effectiveness ?

googledave
googledave

@DPGplc into go the gym, get in the bike and you can do likewise ... 20k this morning and answers 15 emails!!!

MurphyPalmer
MurphyPalmer

@MeghanMBiro @12Most Good suggestions. #5 should only be done if your on a train/bus 4 your commute....

matahappi
matahappi

@matahappi Reading Lesson one of Makin in it in Freelance Photography might just give you a new view on that commute rat run.Get out and touch the sunshine.

samfiorella
samfiorella

Um, what about making fun of people on the commuter train? Like those who clearly woke up late as evidenced by mismatched socks and a clump of hair gel on the back of their heads?! That's my morning entertainment.

ProjectQuinn
ProjectQuinn

@pegfitzpatrick I try to keep my eyes on the road :)

BeckyGaylord
BeckyGaylord

Hi Doug,

My commuting pleasure came when got our Honda Pilot with an audio and navigation system almost two years ago. The boys put on the head phones and listen to Kids Place Live in Sirrius. And I get to listen, in peace, to NPR. ahhh....

Dhara Mistry
Dhara Mistry moderator

I always feel I am busier than ever! It is hard to find time for leisure activities, such as reading. Thankfully, technology has made it possible to read while commuting between my many responsibilities. It's my fav pass-time on my way to Livefyre :) 

 

Michelle_Mazur
Michelle_Mazur

I've become increasingly grateful for hands-free devices in vehicles. It does allow me to do #11, but more importantly I can now practice presentations in my car with other drivers not thinking I am insane. 

ThinDifference
ThinDifference

Number 12 is usually the best one. Driving to work, silence centers your mind for the activities ahead. Driving home, the quiet releases the flurry of past activity and prepares you to spend the quality time with family. In all 12 cases, it is about using the time to renew and refresh!

douglaserice
douglaserice

You know, Eric, I made a Blogger 101 mistake in writing this: I forgot to think from the perspective of my readers. A LOT of people, I would assume, use public transit for commuting. I  live in a smaller metro, so it isn't really feasible for me. However, I agree that puts you at a great advantage. I use my iPhone to blog on occasion (not while I'm driving), but it'd be nice to have commuting time to get stuff like that done as well. Maybe I could just hire a chauffeur...

douglaserice
douglaserice

Thanks Ali. Obviously, the more you try to juggle while you're on the road, the more of a hazard you could be to other drivers. It's probably best to use driving time to think, meditate, or relax than it is to make calls, etc. But some of us multi-task better than others (most better than me)...

DPGplc
DPGplc

@googledave I'm impressed Dave !

douglaserice
douglaserice

@samfiorella Making fun of people is always a nice, uplifting way to pass the time :-)

douglaserice
douglaserice

@ProjectQuinn There's an idea for something to do during the commute: DRIVE! LOL.

douglaserice
douglaserice

YES! Life has gotten increasingly more hectic for humans as a civilization. I'm with you. My driving time is now my leisure time. When the technology for teleportation is mass-produced, I don't know when I'm going to read!

douglaserice
douglaserice

Ha! That's hilarious! I see people "talking to themselves" all of the time on the road and think nothing of it. Bluetooth has enabled the crazy people to feel normal!

douglaserice
douglaserice

I'm with you. I usually jam my driving time with #1-11, because I want to be "efficient," but I fail to realize how much the constant "business" effects my interactions with people. Sometimes, we just need to stop and smell the roses. What better time than on the open road...

DblDsh
DblDsh

@terrinakamura you're welcome :)

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