6 Things To Do On Your Commute To Save You Time & Energy Elsewhere

Ahhh…the commute. At times painful (but mostly just a pain), commuting to and from work can sometimes take hours, depending on traffic. Taking a bus, train, or carpooling (yay environment!) may help ease your stress level, but your commute nonetheless still eats up precious minutes of your day.

We normally view our commute negatively: it’s something that keeps us from doing other, more productive things. However, by shifting your perspective, you can make your commute awesome — and help yourself get ahead of the mental game for the rest of the day. Instead of viewing your commute as a necessary evil, try viewing it as “me time.” This is a set amount of uninterrupted time to do with as you wish (safely, of course). As soon as you start viewing it as a little chunk of paradise before and after a crazy day, your world gets a little brighter. (Of course, if you drive yourself to work, some of these are a little more tough — but all the more reason to try out an audio-only option!)

1. Use Pocket to curate some off-line news.

Pocket is this awesome little app (and plug-in) that lets you save and curate articles to read later, without using up wifi or data. For example, have them automatically dump the New York Times’ top articles without any fuss. Or have you seen an interesting story but no time to read it? Pocket it for later.

2. Bring a book.

How many of us complain about not having enough time to read a book? There is no better time to get some quality reading done than your bus or train ride. I’m pages away from finishing All the Light We Cannot See (could not recommend it more) and read it almost entirely on my commute to work over a month or so. Fiction not your thing? Try some reading about being more creative (Big Magic is a great one), or furthering your career (Own It: The Power of Women at Work, Start with Why,) or finding happiness (The Geography of Bliss). There are more books than we can count, and so much reading to be done. And, of course, most books have audio versions — perfect if you’re the one in the driver’s seat!

3. Check your email (but don’t respond).

Those emails can wait for replies (unless they can’t…you know which ones). But simply looking through your inbox gives you an automatic head start to your day. By sorting through your emails (but not drafting a response), you’re giving yourself a leg-up on work without actually engaging. See what’s going to be your first priority when you get to the office — that way, you’re prepared for what’s to come, and can mull it over while you’re on your way.

4. Download some podcasts.

This one you can do in your car (aside from an audiobook, the first three you definitely can’t!). From food to career to lifestyle to comedy to travel, there is a podcast for everything. On Sunday, while you’re doing your laundry or another chore, set your iTunes to automatically download a week’s worth of content that you can soak up. Some of my favorites: Adulthood Made Easy, Planet Money, Crimetown, and Magic Lessons.

5. Make a call.

You remember your grandma? Yeah, that grandma…the one you haven’t called in weeks. When things get busy, it’s easy to forget to take five minutes and check in with your loved ones on the walk to work. Just asking how they’ve been and letting them know you’re thinking of them will undoubtedly brighten their day, and yours. If you’re driving, and don’t want to (or can’t) talk on the phone in the car, consider parking a little further away, and make a quick call to a loved one on your way to or from your office building.

6. Meditate.

Remember that whole “use your commute as me time” thing? Now’s the perfect time for a bit of self-care. Calm is my favorite app/website for meditation: you can choose exactly the length of time you want to meditate (from three minutes to an hour,) and can pick whether you want a lovely phantom voice guiding you through it or not. Complete with beautiful scenery descriptions and nature sounds (that you again get to pick), you’re on your way to bliss. And even better, Calm has a guided meditation for every situation, even one called Commute!

[Editor’s note: To add a seventh, I have lately been using my free subway time to learn German; I’m simply using Duolingo, and though it’s obviously not a perfect app, I highly recommend it! — Holly]

Image via Unsplash

A 20-something #girlboss, Tori Dunlap is an award-winning social media marketer and entrepreneur. Founder of victori media, helping 20-somethings live life victoriously. Obsessed with travel, a good glass of Cab Sav, and you. Follow her on Instagram here and Twitter here.

  • Lauren

    I have a 30 minute subway commute to work, and I have gotten -so- much reading done as a result. It’s so nice to know I have a built in hour of reading every single day, and sometimes it’s actually the highlight of my day.

  • Rebecca Ann

    I miss living in DC and taking public transit to school and work! Having to drive myself means I don’t get to be super productive on my way into the city, but I do use it to rock out to some energizing music to start my day on a positive note!

    • A.S.

      I get so much reading done on the metro. Come back to DC! 🙂

  • I have a super short commute at the moment but whenever I take train rides across the city, which take a while, I always read a book or listen to podcasts (Afford Anything podcast and Lore podcasts are great!)

  • Jack

    I walk to work which is lovely but it also gives me a chance to call my mum each morning. We’re really close so it’s a nice time to chat without the time eating into my short evenings.

  • Dianna Martin

    Since living in LA and using my car to commute, I’ve download books to listen too. Makes the commute way more enjoyable and I feel like I’m being productive….plus also avoiding road rage 🙂

  • Violaine

    I read so much when I have to commute. In two weeks I can go through 8 books. Then if I have two weeks off and don’t commute, I read… maybe 1?!

    I’ve seen people sketching as well, writing, and even knitting in the Tube!

  • Lava Yuki

    I used to study while at school and university, now I tend to waste time playing video games