This is crazy! The average commute time for one way to work is almost 25 minutes! Round trip the average working American spends over 50 minutes a day commuting. That’s 13,000 minutes, or 217 hours, or over 9 days a year just getting to work and coming home Monday to Friday. I know plenty of people who spend those 50 minutes just traveling one way which is ridiculous if you are wasting all that time. That’s 9 days dedicated toward getting to and from your job unpaid and unproductive. Those 2 weeks of vacation don’t seem all that valuable anymore do they? Well now imagine if someone just gave you all that time back...
Catch Up With A Phone Call
Okay this one’s obvious but it still needs to be said. With a ton of cars being equipped with Bluetooth (or just use speaker phone with a mount) it’s never been easier to make a hands free call. Catch up with a friend or family member. You can even consider making a business call or a mentorship call to get some better guidance on some of your ideas. What's more motivating than a coaching call to start off your day? Point being, you have people you need to talk to you and this the perfect time to do it.
Listen To A Podcast
There’s a ton of quality podcasts that are packed with great info and are entertaining as well. Most podcasts are 30-60 minutes so you can get through a whole episode a day. Just browse business topics like E-Commerce, Startups, or Social Media Marketing. If there’s something you’ve been wanting to get into, use your commute to learn the ins and outs so when you get home you can execute on it. My favorite app for listening to podcasts is called Pocket Casts. While you do have to pay a one-time fee of $3.99 (last I checked) it’s completely worth it. It's compatible across all your devices and has the option of offline listening to save your data and battery. There are definitely free ways to listen as well. Just browse Apple's top business podcasts to get an idea what you're looking for first.
So this is pretty similar to the podcast idea, just listening to an entire book being read. Maybe you haven’t had time to catch up with your favorite author’s latest work or sitting down to read is not how you like to spend an afternoon. This is definitely a good approach to learning big topics and it allows for more detail to be covered. While Audible (an Amazon company) leads the way in everything Audiobook it also costs $14.95 a month. They do have quite the selection though and always offer a generous free trial that lets you keep a book or two for free. Sign up and get your freebies at the very least.
Maybe you have a list of things to say or an email you need to get typed up on the go. There’s some pretty good speak to text apps out there that can get all your thoughts jotted down. While you still probably need to go back for edits, imagine how much you could get typed up in 25 minutes! Get an email, blog, or assignment drafted up for you to work on later. The app I use for this is Google keyboard which goes by Gboard in the app store. Once you download and enable it, go to type a memo like you normally would, select the microphone button on the new keyboard, and speak away. It’s been very accurate for me and it’s free which is even better. Most of the higher end business apps like this will cost you money so give this a try first.
Clean Your Inbox With An Email Reader
This is great for people who just get piles of emails every day and not enough time to catch up to them. There are apps for every major email provider that will read through your inbox and allow you to delete mail. The only downside is that the apps usually read EVERY word including disclaimers and fine print. Even if you don’t need to delete a lot of emails, getting a rundown of the inbox from the car will give you time to think of your response when your hands are free.
Mentally Plan Your Day
So most of us are probably doing this unconsciously, thinking about what’s waiting at our desk or where we need to be and what time we need to be there. This is not planning. It’s more of a daunting wondering about where your day will take you. Instead, take your ride into work to walk through your day. Go through the tasks you WILL complete. Have an actual plan and stick to it. Plan a break in your day for a coffee or to take a walk so you have something to look forward to. When you actually stick to a structured plan you will find yourself more focused and less inclined to scroll through your news feed on [insert a social media app here] and waste your day away. One app that can be synced to your phone and computer is Trello. This is great for planning your day or any project your working on. It’s completely free for individual users and it’s a really powerful tool. Keep it open in your browser all day as a visual reminder you have things to do.
Learn a New Language
Maybe you want to travel the world or have always just admired the thought of speaking another language. You’d be amazed how quickly you can pick a language up and improve the quality of a vacation trip you’ve always wanted to take. There’s some great apps you can take on the go to brush up on those Spanish skills that collected dust since high school. If you are driving, just stick to a podcast or audio book for your learning. Here’s one to get you learning Spanish at any level. If you have use of your hands during your commute Duolingo is by far the best app for mobile as it has fun, compact, and interactive lessons. With tens of millions of users worldwide I’d say it’s a safe bet to give it a try.
Breakfast On The Go
So this may not be productive but it can definitely be time saving. Instead of trying to rush breakfast at home or start your work day off slow by having to pull up at the drive thru, just have your breakfast in the car. Now I really wouldn’t recommend solid foods, it just never works and it’s distracting to your driving. Crumbs everywhere, stains on the clothes, you get the picture. Try making a healthy smoothie or shake instead. There’s plenty of energy increasing, muscle building, or weight loss recipes that taste great and save you that time in the morning. My absolute favorite is almond milk, chocolate protein, banana, and peanut butter. Making a healthy smoothie is actually part of my tips to boost your morning routine if you want to check it out.
Peace And Quiet
So maybe you have some wild kids at home and the car ride is your only chance to catch a break. I totally can sympathize. The last thing you really care about is being productive, you’re just trying to relax. If you are going to go the silent and peaceful route, why not try to get something a little more out of it? There are plenty of apps to pick from so you can really clear your mind for a mental break. You could also try some breathing techniques aimed at decreasing stress and increasing blood flow. Here’s an article for some of the best meditation apps of 2017. This is especially great on the way home to decompress after a long day at work.
Spot A Problem
If you aren't feeling like doing any of the things I’ve already mentioned, just try to actively brainstorm and look for problems that you might be able to solve with a business idea. Solving a problem is the key foundation to any business and being surrounded by tons of commuters is the perfect opportunity to observe some humans in the wild. You'd be surprised by some patterns you start to pick up and what kind of crazy ideas pop up when you focus on the world around you.
Now that you’re a little more aware of just how much time we spend commuting to work, you can really make the most out of that time. For your next commute I challenge you to try one of these productivity hacks on the way to work AND on the way coming home. Instead of being pissed off at traffic or singing along to the latest Justin Bieber track, get something out of your daily commute. And remember, those 9 days you might spend commuting every year don’t include ALL the other time you are traveling day to day. You can accomplish and learn so much in that time. We only have so many hours to be awake during the day, make the most of it!
Is there something you do to stay productive in the car or when commuting? Drop a comment and let everyone in on it!