Do you feel like your daily commute is sucking the life out of you? All those hours spent stuck in traffic, going nowhere fast, feeling like a prisoner in your own car.
The average american spends 2.5 hours a day commuting to and from work. That’s 50 hours a month and 600 hours a year, if you only work 5 days a week! One way to lessen the frustration of all that wasted time is to make better use of your drive time.
Here are 5 ways to be more productive in your commute.
1. Empty Your Head
If you are a practitioner of the GTD system (Getting Things Done by David Allen), then you know the value of this concept. We all seem to have a million thoughts running through our mind at any given moment. The problem is that many of these are the same thoughts over and over again.
The goal in capturing every thought you can is so you only have each thought once because it has now been translated into an action step. You also have now freed up your mind to create instead of manage.
I am not suggesting that you try writing in your planner as you fly down the highway. The best way to do this is with some type of voice recording device. This can range from an old school microcassette to a newer digital recorder to your phone or ipad.
I use Evernote to capture and manage my list and have the mobile app installed on my phone. The voice recognition feature allows me to speak my notes or action items into the phone. It requires minimal button pushing because everything goes into my capture folder first. When I get to the office, I then put them into their proper action lists.
In a 30 minute drive, you could easily have your entire day planned out. Brainstorm ideas, solve a problem, whatever needs to be done.
2. Get Spiritual
Being alone in your car is a great time to pray, clear your head and reflect. We all live busy lives and driving is one of the only times when we don’t have several people pulling us in different directions.
Take advantage of this time to feed your spirit and get the emotional refill you need to face the day. I take a few minutes to pray during my drive time each morning. I pray about the challenges and problems I know I will face that day.
On my way home I take a few minutes to reflect on why I am thankful for my family. It helps me to come in the front door with the right attitude and ready to make the best of every moment.
Even if you just spend a few moments in silence, you will notice the difference.
3. Connect With People
Drive time presents a great opportunity to make productive phone calls to get your day moving in the right direction. A bluetooth headset and voice recognition make it so easy.
But let’s also take this opportunity to build our connections with the people in our lives that matter. This is a great time for you to call your spouse and just chat. Maybe it’s just a brief, “I love you, hope you have a great day.”. Or discussing family business and making decisions.
This is a great time to make those, “I was just thinking about you” calls. Call your parents, siblings, friends, or grown children, just to see how they are doing. Great relationships are built on small connection points. You may be amazed at how many times your call will come at just the right moment for them.
4. Listen And Learn
I learned a long time ago from one of my mentors that leaders are readers. Over the years, I have become a voracious reader. I absolutely love learning and reading is one of the most accessible ways to learn.
However, reading while driving is not wise. Thank God for technology! I can listen to audiobooks and podcasts anywhere via my phone, ipod or ipad. Even waiting in line for 10 minutes gives me a chance to grab a quick listen to Dave Ramsey’s Entreleadership or the Freakonomics podcasts.
5. Just Relax And Enjoy
Ok, not every minute of your day has to be spent producing, working and growing. We all need some time to recharge our batteries and do something we just plain enjoy. It doesn’t have to serve any other purpose than that.
While I enjoy being productive, sometimes I just want to put on my favorite Pandora radio station and and sing at the top of my lungs. And sometimes I pull up my favorite comedian on my ipod because I just need to laugh. And sometimes I just sing without music because I like to.
There you are. No more banging your head on the steering wheel, dying a slow death in traffic. Who knows, maybe you will actually look forward to your daily commute. I do!