Whether you spend your morning drive into work battling through queues or are fortunate enough to enjoy a journey which winds through quiet rural roads, the commute is not usually the most productive part of our day.
If we take the time to think about it, however, this short window of alone-time could be an opportunity to get plenty of useful things done, or even to broaden our minds. Here, we will look at the morning commute – traditionally seen as a necessary but rather boring part of our day – in a different light.
Read on for a few ideas about how you can turn the drive to work into your new favourite part of the day.
During commuting, as in almost every area of life, we tend to stick to the familiar. This is only natural - being in our comfort zone and staying within our usual routine is always the easiest option, particularly in an age where we are all so busy every day.
However, there is no reason why our commute cannot be transformed into a time when we learn something new. In fact, whatever you choose to spend this time discovering could prove to be more useful for you in the long-term than your day at work!
Podcasts have now been around for over 10 years and have, for many people, become a hugely valuable educational resource, as well as an exciting form of entertainment.
Most new cars will now have the technology to allow you to play podcasts once they have been downloaded to your device of choice via iTunes or the podcast creators themselves. What’s more, most podcasts are completely free of charge, so there is no excuse for not giving them a go!
Whether you want to learn more about politics and current affairs, music, technology or almost anything else, there will be a podcast out there to inform and entertain you. Podcasts are created by both professional broadcast outlets and enthusiastic amateurs, meaning there is an almost unlimited selection out there for you to get your teeth into.
You may not have thought it was possible to go on an epic adventure whilst sat in that same old queue of morning traffic, but audiobooks allow you to do just this.
Fans of classic novels, the newest authors and non-fiction alike are able to experience some fantastic books without having to turn a page when they download an audio book digitally or purchase one on CD for playback in their car. Most readers agree that they do not have the time to get through as many books as they would like, so this could be the perfect library-expanding solution!
If you’re not sure where to look, here are some links to a few of the best UK-based and international audiobook providers:
It may seem an obvious statement, but the car is a great place to listen to music. This is especially the case during the morning commute, as it is probably one of the only times of day when we truly get to be by ourselves and really listen to our music of choice.
Most of the time when we hear music, we either have it on in the background whilst we do other household tasks or whilst relaxing with friends and family. However, playing a new album – or rediscovering an old favourite – whilst you are driving offers the perfect opportunity to really get to know what you are listening to.
If you’re in doubt, try this experiment: the next time you play a song you know well in your car, try as hard as you can to listen to every word as it is sung. You will almost certainly notice plenty of lyrics which you never even realised were there before!
Again, listening to the radio whilst driving it is not exactly a revolutionary idea but, as with everything else in this list, it is the way you listen to it that counts.
Many of us tune into our local radio station in the morning as a matter of habit and because these stations tend to provide a useful mix of music, news and, crucially, traffic and weather reports.
However, if we’re being honest, how informative do we really find these broadcasts? Many local radio shows tend to play little more than a handful of regular songs on rotation during the morning rush hour, whilst the newsflashes are similarly repetitive and rarely go into more detail than headlines and brief summaries.
We would recommend trying a station which is dedicated either to speech – discussing the issues of the day or matters of historical interest in depth – or showcasing new music. Once again, you’ll be surprised at how much you could learn on the way to and from work.
If all of the above sounds a little obvious, our next suggestion is somewhat more outside the box, although the concept itself is perfectly simple.
‘Rush hour’ was given its name for a very good reason. Most of us reach our place of work either just before we are due to ‘clock on’ or a quarter of an hour or so before that, which means that countless people in towns throughout the country are trying to get to their parking spaces at more or less the same time. This means that, inevitably, the traffic builds up significantly, leading to seemingly endless queues.
Have you ever thought, however, how much time (and stress) you could save simply by leaving home between 30 minutes to an hour earlier than usual? Adjusting your normal routine just slightly by getting up half an hour earlier will result in you missing the morning rush almost entirely. Imagine how much more satisfying it would be coasting into work on empty roads than inching towards your office, having to finely balance patience and speed to get across those gridlocked roundabouts!
This is a view shared by Craig Jarrow, author of the renowned Time Management Ninja website, who also notes that some companies are more than happy to support their employees if they choose to adjust their working hours in order to make their commute more manageable: “One of the best ways to time manage your commute is to avoid the rush. If everyone else is driving to work at 8AM, what if you left at 7AM? Would it cut your commute in half? For some people it does. Time shifting, or moving tasks to more opportune times, can save you considerably over the long run. I know some co-workers who minimize their commute time by coming in at 6AM and leaving at 3PM. Some companies not only support this type of schedule, they actively encourage it.”
There are many things that you could do with your newly saved pre-9AM time. Getting ahead on your workload is the obvious option, but it is also a great opportunity to clear some of that household admin which inevitably stacks up throughout the week. Whether it’s booking appointments, arranging to meet friends or family, or even getting some shopping done, the world is your oyster – for half an hour or so, at least!
Whether you spend an hour or more driving to work every morning or if you are just a stone’s throw away from the office, the points made above could apply to you. Whatever your job, there is no reason why you cannot start to see the commute as a window of opportunity to learn something new or get those essential household tasks done.
Of course, if you are fortunate enough to lease a new car for either your regular work commute or occasional lengthier business trips, all of this advice may seem unnecessary – having the enjoyment of driving a top quality car to and from your place of work may be more than enough to make your commute worth the time!
* All vehicle images and car descriptions on this site are for illustration and reference purposes only and are not necessarily an accurate representation of the vehicle on offer.
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