I'm going to be honest — I don't always love my two hour per day commute, but since that's how long it takes me to get to and from my job, I have learned to make the best of it. Those hours in the car are where I really zoned in on my love of productivity, cultivated some important relationships, did a lot of deep thinking, came up with some great ideas (like starting this blog), was entertained, learned new things, and managed my busy schedule.
How do I accomplish all of those things while driving? Very safely, I assure you! There are 5 key ways I have found make a commute more productive.
1. Podcasts and Audio Books
When I first began my long commute, I realized that I'd essentially lost two hours of my day getting to and from work. I wanted to find a way to change those two hours a day from a source of frustration to at least partially productive. I started with an audio book that I only allowed myself to listen to on my commute. What this did was actually make me look forward to the drive so I could find out what happened next! I also used a Bible app and, instead of reading Bible passages daily, I listened to them.
Then one day, it all changed when I searched "productivity" on the Podcast app on my iPhone. I discovered The Productive Woman podcast, and I was hooked! I devoured all the back episodes and learned about other productivity and organization podcasts that I could enjoy like Organize 365, The Productivityist, and Beyond the To Do List. Soon I was branching out to other podcasts about parenthood (The Longest Shortest Time), happiness (Happier with Gretchen Rubin) and eventually even true crime (Serial, Crime Junkie) and fictional stories (Limetown). There are so many more great podcasts out there on every topic. You can be entertained, educated or inspired every day on your way to work!
2. Recording Yourself
I'm not ashamed to say that I talk to myself. I need to talk things through to help me process them, and sometimes I don't really want or need anyone else's input. For me, saying things out loud helps me to make sense of them, but I've discovered that recording myself and listening back takes it to the next level! I use the voice memo app on my iPhone which can be launched with Siri. After recording myself explaining an idea or hashing out something that's been weighing on my mind, I listen back to myself. Something amazing happens when I listen to myself talking — I forget it's me, and I am able to objectively process what I've said. It's almost as if you're hearing someone else's voice talk about something familiar which allows you to gain insights and spark new ideas.
3. Voice Commands
Between my job and my personal life, there are always emails and text messages to return. I rely on my iPhone and Siri to help me get some of those taken care of on the road. "Hey Siri" helps me listen to emails or text messages and send replies. I typically only send voice to text messages to people I know can overlook typos, though!
I also use voice commands to create reminders on my Reminders app. This is likely the most helpful of all these tips. When I think of something I need to do at home that evening, I just say, "Hey Siri remind me at 8 p.m. to ..." I can also create appointments on my calendar just as easily.
Hands free phone calls are a great use of time in the car. I talk to my mom almost everyday on my way to work. It's a routine that we've developed, and it makes the time on the road go quicker and be meaningful. I also try to catch up with other friends and family on the way home in the evenings.
I use the app, Voxer, to leave voice messages for friends that aren't available at the same time I'm available to talk because of time zones or different schedules. The ability to talk and listen when I have time has allowed me to be more connected and develop stronger relationships. Even though we aren't talking in real time, we are talking. I look forward to having messages to listen to, and it's great to be able to talk to someone when I need to talk — even if they aren't available. I also use group Voxer messages when I want to tell two or more people the same thing at the same time, but they aren't both available.
In addition to having meaningful conversations, I also use this time for making mundane phone calls like making appointments — especially ones where you may have to be on hold for a while. After making an appointment, I just use voice to text to add it to my calendar, and viola! I've marked a task off my to do list!
"In our noisy, busy lives, there isn't a lot of time spent in silence, and a commute is a great opportunity to take advantage of some quiet time."
The radio in my vehicle only works about a third of the time, the CD player hasn't worked for years, and I can't plug in my phone to my car. (Sidenote: it's about time for a new vehicle!) This means I rarely listen to music in my car, and when I do, it's really special. At first, I missed the radio, but soon, I learned to love the silence. It gave me to opportunity to think, talk to myself (see above) and pray (with my eyes open!)
In our busy, noisy lives, there isn't a lot of time spent in silence, and a commute is a great opportunity to take advantage of some quiet time. If you drive like I do, you can't exactly meditate, but it is still therapeutic to be alone and quiet. If you take a train or other public transportation, some noise cancelling headphones would do wonders for you even if you didn't listen to anything but the silence!
When you spend so many hours in the car, you start to develop habits or hacks to make it more tolerable. Here are just a few more of my tips.
A woman with many roles in life who knows the necessity of keeping things in order!