How to Make the Most Out of Your Commute

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I'm assuming you are a total kick ass #bossgirl at life, which means you got places to go every day. Whether that is your office, meetings, the grocery store, the nearest Starbucks, or the kids' day-care, chances are you have some type of commute. We never really think of that time as “free time”, so we rarely take advantage of it. For most of us, it’s also the only time of the day we get to be alone, and that is an underrated need we all have. As I've gotten busier (being an adult is hard), I find that time is my most precious resource, so I use up every last bit of my day efficiently.

If you ride with someone to work or take the bus or subway, here are some suggestions to really make the most out of your commute time.  And if you do drive yourself, I added some options on how you can maximize that time alone. 

1. Get back to basics, and keep a diary

Great ideas come to us when we least expect it. J.K. Rowling came up with the idea for Harry Pottery on the train1 So just think, you could be next! Make use of that valuable space of time, and write down ideas, goals, and dreams you think of ((driving alternative, use Siri on your phone to write down some notes into your notepad). Write quotes you love that you can refer back to, song lyric ideas if you are musical, or record the melody into your phone recorder. After a few weeks of doing this, you might just have your entire business plan for your new venture mapped out! Or the next Taylor Swift number one hit. These are my favorite paper planners right now:

Refresh Weekly Planner by JLynnDesignery

Refresh Weekly Planner by JLynnDesignery

Kate Spade 2016 Agenda

Kate Spade 2016 Agenda

2. A great playlist

Awesome music can make a commute seem shorter! Mentally, music has an effect on your brain as well, so pick music that can help set you up for a good day. It could be motivating music, music that ramps up your energy level, or perhaps some classical music to still your mind before a big presentation. It’s also a good idea to listen to something soothing and calming on your way back home after work, when you will likely be stuck in traffic. Tuning out the noise and just focusing on the mellow sounds can begin the process of relaxation so you can have a good, restful night.  My favorite apps for music are Amazon Music, Pandora and Spotify (upgrade so you can listen without WIFI!).

3. Check your Instagram

No commute is complete without social media! Now if you are driving, please don’t do this. But if you are not, from fashion inspiration to diet and exercise tips, plus cute puppy pictures, Instagram is the ultimate inspiration platform. If you have WiFi (or any data left), this is a great way to pass the time. 

4. Watch or listen to a funny or enlightening video

If you are not driving, this is the perfect quiet time to watch a great sermon someone sent you, that documentary you’ve been wanting to watch, or simply a tutorial on a skill you’ve been wanting to brush up on. If you are an artist, there are plenty of tutorials on YouTube you can draw inspiration from, and if you have Netflix this is a great way to spend your 30 minutes. If you are driving, a fun way to pass the time is to pull up a stand-up comedy special, and have it playing through the speakers. Listening to music can sometimes get old and irritating, but listening to talk radio (The Dr Jen satellite radio station is my favorite, she's so mean!) can help pass the time as well and stimulates your brain in a different way. 

5. Learn a new language

Have you always wanted to learn a new language but never find the time? Well, the commute is the perfect time for it. Pop in the CD, or plug in the app you use on your phone, and practice away! Do this for about 8 weeks, and you will be more than ready for that trip to France you’ve been planning. Some of my favorites are Rosetta Stone, and Learn A Language.

6. Use the time for self growth

If you are on a self-growth kick, a great way to learn new skills and improve your resume, is to take some classes. I like the accessible lectures from The Great Courses, which are taught by credentialed college professors, and you can pick topics that appeal to you (unlike when we were actually in college). You can also grow in other ways, by simply investigating your soul and thoughts, processing through that last fight you had with your husband and why you got so angry. Alone time is a great opportunity to look deep into yourself and find out why you feel a certain way about things. It’s also a great time to pray and strengthen your relationship with God.

7. Exercise your creative muscles

When you are a creative type, it can sometimes become difficult to find inspiration in the mundane. But creativity is a muscle, so the more you exercise it, the quicker and faster it becomes. Look around you, and try and find five things you could say about the person next to you on the bus, or look out the window and begin really looking at the scenery and being curious about the stories it tells you. Listening to and observing those around you helps generate ideas that could help your creative work. By keeping your eyes and ears open while you travel, you can get a grasp of what people are reading/wearing/listening, and gives you more information about society, making you a more insightful person. When people ask me how I don't run out of things to write about, I tell them I learned to find a blog post or article in everything; the guy sitting across Starbucks talking to that girl and making her feel awkward gives me an idea for writing about the stages of dating; the lady walking her dog dressed in a tutu gives me the idea for a piece about how we connect with animals better than with people sometimes, and so on and so forth. Looking at life this way becomes much more intriguing! 

8. Reconnect with people you’ve lost touch with

Chances are that in the hustle and bustle of life, you’ve lost touch with a few people. We all wish we could keep in better contact with old friends and family members, so one productive way to spend this time is to call up a friend, or grandma. Assign days of the week where you pick up the phone and call those people you keep thinking about, but regrettably never find time for. Tell them you will call them every Monday at the same time, or every other week. Make a date, that way you stay committed and improve the quality of your relationships.