According to a recent survey by The Zebra, 35 percent of Americans would take a pay cut in exchange for a shorter commute. The Boston Globe reported that Black commuters face longer trips to work, averaging 80 more minutes per week.
Studies have shown that commuting can impact your health by causing stress, anger, and social isolation. This time wasted traveling doesn’t have to be lost, though. You can (and should!) transform your commute into a productive part of your daily routine.
During travel time each day and night, you should focus your energy on things you can accomplish along the way. Here are some surefire ways to get more out of your morning commute:
Spend time brainstorming
A long and lonely commute is also a great time to think. Before you leave for work, review your day and week ahead. Is there a meeting or project you need to brainstorm for? Set aside time during your commute to brainstorm. You never know what solutions you’ll stumble across as you let your mind wander.
Listen to a business podcast
Podcasts are a great way to learn on the go, so you should invest some time in finding a business podcast that either directly ties to your work or ties to relevant skills you want to learn. There are so many great podcasts out there full of information on any given subject, so you can even try devoting some days to business topics, and some days to more fun topics that interest you. Some of our favorite entrepreneur podcasts include: Side Hustle Pro Podcast, Smart Brown Voices, and Trailblazers.FM!
Learn a new language
If you feel like you are wasting hours each day on a commute, spend time learning a new language or skill you don’t have time to focus energy on when you get home. There are plenty of language apps designed for audio learning that you can turn on during the trip, such as Duolingo, Memrise, and Babbel.
Practice your conversation skills
If you commute on public transit, try talking to someone next to you. It’s always a good idea to improve your communication skills, and you never know who you might meet. If you drive to work, you can still focus on your conversation skills by setting up your BlueTooth and phoning a colleague or friend.
Set positive intentions
The power of gratitude is well-documented–some studies show that it can raise your happiness by 25%. Improve your mental well-being on your daily commute by jotting down (or making mental notes) of things you are grateful for. On your morning commute, set your intentions for the day. What do you hope to accomplish? On your way home, recap the day. What did you learn? What was your favorite moment? Watch how this daily gratitude practice transforms your life.
Commuting comes with its share of costs–including gas, tolls, car insurance, and maintenance–but your mental health doesn’t have to be one of them.
Take the time to improve yourself or learn something new.