How To Have A Productive Commute

I’m writing this post on the subway.

And I just finished up a chapter of my latest book “Always be Connecting.”

It’s the dog days of the summer here in Santiago, and while the smell of my fellow passengers is much stronger than usual today, I’m pleased to know I had a ‘productive’ 47 minute commute.

It hasn’t always been that way.

But let’s first take a step back.

According to recent statistics, over 130 million United States workers commute to and from work on a daily basis. The average commute being 30 minutes each way. This seems to be accurate for many other countries around the world as well.

Over the course of a year, that’s a ton of hours being spent literally just going to and from work.

While we’re waiting for self driving cars to become mainstream, here are a few tips on how to not only have a productive commute, but make it an enjoyable part of your day as well.

Get Rid Of Your Commute

The first step to enjoying your commute is to get rid of it.

No really.

Not only does commuting take up valuable time from your day, it has actually been proven to be quite stressful and takes an incredible toll on your health (see waistline.)

If you can avoid a lengthy commute, you should do everything in your power to do so. That’s step number 1.

So, how can you do this?

Talk with your company.

“Hey boss,

I spend over FOUR full work weeks getting to and from work each day.

Mind if I stay home and work in my pajamas instead?

I promise I’ll wear pants for our conference call at 11.”

Okay.. okay.. You shouldn’t REALLY say that.

But you get the idea. Even if you’ve never considered getting rid of your commute, it’s becoming more and more realistic each day.

Many companies are now surprisingly receptive to the idea of employees working from home, or even a local Starbucks.

It might take some discussions with your company, but it’s definitely worth a shot.

At the very least, you might be able to work from home Monday and Wednesday. A win win.

And while, there are certainly times you may need to be in the office, reducing your commute by any amount will help you in the long run.

Now For The Real Tips:

Okay, so you talked to your boss and it’s a no go on getting out of your commute.

Bummer.

Apparently, you forgot to realize it’s impossible to work your retail floor sales job from home.

I get it.

Not everyone can be a millennial working in a cafe sipping 27 dollar lattes.

But there is some good news.

Now you can stop complaining about it.

No really.

Every self help book from the beginning of time, has stated the importance of focusing on what you can control and ignore everything else.

And I’m here to reiterate that statement.

Since you talked to your boss and you still need to commute, it’s not something you don’t control.

Your commute is now something you can’t change (at least for the time being.)

So stop complaining.

Trust me on this.

Now let’s get into those tips on how to have an awesome commute.

AUDIOBOOKS

Whether you’re driving your 2001 Toyota to work each day, or jumping on the green line, audiobooks are a great way to get your day started off on the right foot.

I’m a big fan of Audible if audiobooks are your thing.

Maybe you like ‘reading’ fiction. Or perhaps you enjoy learning about history.

Any audiobook will do.

The important part is that you’re using your commute as a way to improve yourself.

Because, hey…. everyone likes improving.

I typically like to listen to a book at 1.5 times the speed. While it’s only a small improvement in speed this really adds up over time. That being said, you shouldn’t rush through your audiobooks just for the sake of rushing through them.

Have a goal with how much you want to take away from the audiobook. Is it for fun? Or true learning? There’s no wrong answer.

For me, I just enjoy the companionship of the narrator when I’m surrounded by 150 strangers on the subway.

Do this, and you’ll soon become a person who ‘reads’ over a dozen books a year.

MOTIVATIONAL MATERIAL

We’ve already discussed how nearly half of Americans spend an hour each day commuting.

Imagine if that hour was spent improving ones self? Over the course of a year that’s close to a month of time devoted specifically to learning something new!

Of course, listening to an audiobook is fantastic. But if find yourself responding well to motivational material this is also a great time dive deep into the world of self help.

It goes without saying, just listening to motivational material won’t do anything to improve your life.

You have to take action. But in my experience, the more I surround myself with positive ideals, the better my life becomes.

As the famous Zig Ziglar once said “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well neither does bathing. That’s why we recommend it daily.”

Use your commute to take your daily bath. 😃

MAKE SOME PHONE

Back when I was working as a waiter, I’d often spend my commute listening to some silly radio show. While it did provide some entertainment here and there, I often forgot about it as soon as I stepped out of the car.

But sometimes, I’d open up my phone and give someone a call.

Sometimes I’d choose randomly. Other times I’d give mom or pops a ring

And I almost ALWAYS felt better after doing so.

In an age in which we are more connected than ever… when was the last time you gave someone a phone call?

It’s surprisingly powerful and a great way to keep in contact and connect.

If you try this one. I promise you’ll be pleased with the result.

WRITE!

Of course, this applies only to you if you take a subway or horse to work.

So… Please do not attempt to “write” while driving. That being said, if you choose to ignore my advice and value you your life, there is apparently some good dictation software out there.

Okay. For those of us that can focus on writing when commuting it’s a great time to do so.

I’ve found that during my commute I don’t have nearly as many distractions as I do when I’m at home and online.

For one, you can put your phone or device into airplane mode so you won’t be exposed to thousands of random notifications.

And.. secondly, most subways are notorious for losing wifi every now and again.

Just open up your favorite note editor on your phone and dig in.

I’ve used my commute to journal my thoughts for the day, and also write this here blog post.

I typically, don’t waste any time editing while during my commute. I use it only as a method to get my thoughts and ideas down on paper. It’s worked surprisingly well for me, because I don’t have to worry about if it’s a “bad” idea or not.

I’ve literally written 20k words or so on my phone while on the subway over the last month.

Which blows my mind.

If you routinely say ” I don’t have time to write.”

I call BS.

Try and do some writing on your commute. I promise it will make a difference.

LISTEN TO MUSIC

I’m a weirdo in the sense that I don’t listen to music all that often. But it’s my understanding some people actual enjoy listening to music on regular basis.

Like really enjoy it. I will never relate to these aliens.. but I’m told it’s pretty common.

So if music brings you some mojo, my suggestion would be to use your commute as a time to REALLY get into your tunes.

Build a playlist or two that really gets you going.

If you’ve been listening to music and still hate yourself afterwards, my suggestion is to try some of the other tips above.

I’m not anti music by any means, but having some tangible results from months of commuting is a great way to build your momentum.

BE PRESENT

Sometimes you won’t want to call grandma, or listen to a book on history.

And that’s perfectly okay. The point of this article is to help you realize that even though you may have to commute.. you still have a lot of control over the the process.

Being present is one of the most valuable things you can do. So use your commute as a time to practice tuning in.

If you’re driving, feel the steering wheel. If you’re riding a horse feel the air blow into your face. If you’re on the subway, try to connect with your fellow passengers.

Spending an hour each day on anything, is a lot of time. But if you have to commute, it’s best you make the most of it.

Stop complaining. Start bettering yourself each and every day.

Turn your commute from something you tread, to something you look forward to.

P.S I would love to hear your comments on what you do on your commute!

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