Nothing can drain you like a long commute to work. Driving or traveling can seem like a waste of time that could be spent being productive. Worse, a long commute can make you unfocused and exhausted before you even get to the office.
To counter this fatigue, the members of Forbes Business Council offered some practical strategies to make the most out of a long commute. Here are their favorite activities as well as how they help them.
I make my commute a time for joy and decompression. I put the top down on my convertible, blast my music and sing at the top of my lungs. This gets me amped for the day, gives me much needed vitamin D and helps me to get into a positive, creative headspace. – Alessandra Conti, Matchmakers In The City
2. Make It Your ‘Big Picture’ Time
Take this time to work “on” your business versus “in” your business. Think strategically. Make this your “big picture” time when you focus on creating client strategies, next steps and potential added-value opportunities. You can also reflect on your team’s performance and determine their coaching needs. The great thing about the commute is that you can avoid in-office interruptions. – Jason Richmond, Ideal Outcomes Inc.
3. Use It As ‘Focused Time’
I like to use the train for long commutes. It is not only practical from a cost-effectiveness standpoint but allows me to have focused time to spend either making necessary calls with clients (or family), emails away from a busy office environment, listening to books on tape or just simply relaxing. Driving creates too many lost opportunities. – David Crean, Objective Capital Partners, LLC
4. Connect With Important People In Your Life
With our busy lives, it now seems harder than ever to stay in touch with important people in our lives. Lately, I’ve been using my 45-minute commute to catch up with old friends and family members whom I don’t get to see as often as I would like. So I am now splitting the time for my commute between podcasts in the morning on the way to work and calling loved ones in the evening on my way home. – Valentin Saportas, MortgageHippo Inc.
5. Listen To Podcasts And Audio Books
Definitely sign up for podcasts and audiobooks. Keep it interesting! I listen to multiple podcasts including Gary Vee, AdPodcast with Dylan Conroy, Programmatic Digest with Helene Parker, James Altucher and Joe Rogan. – Robert Brill, BrillMedia.co
6. Invest In Yourself
My commute used to be over two hours a day. I hated it until I saw it as a power hour: an opportunity to invest in myself! Now I love it. Some days you’ll find me listening to an audiobook or one of many podcasts. I also call friends that live far away and have gotten closer to some of them because of these check-ins. Other days doing nothing is exactly what I need to decompress before I get home. – Christine Tao, Sounding Board Inc.
7. Learn Something New
I’ve used commutes for learning, listening to many audiobooks. I often pick my books by first listening to book summaries in the Blinkist and Instaread apps. Sometimes, the summaries are enough to get a sense of the general ideas in a book. Listening to a broad spectrum of books that I may not have read otherwise, I learned a lot about leadership, product development and entrepreneurship. – Yana Welinder, Kraftful
8. Have One-On-One Check-Ins
If you’re trying to build your network while maintaining existing relationships, I’ve found that using commute time as “phone” time is extremely valuable. Schedule calls with colleagues, peers and connections to touch base and check-in. Video calls should be done with immediate teams, but short, more personal check-ins or to-dos can be done over the phone. – Lauren Cooney, Spark Labs
9. Embrace It As Personal Time
Read, meditate, listen to music or simply sit in silence—this is your personal time. Living in NYC, life can be chaotic at home, office and in transit. I have a fairly long commute to work that I use for some guided meditations on Spotify to silence the noise (in the train as well as in the mind) on most days. It helps me clear my mind space to take on whatever is next! – Neha Kesarwani, Vertoe
10. Have A Mental Conversation With Yourself
When it’s not possible to be “hands-on-keyboard” working during a commute, it’s important to schedule and protect that time to work on specific opportunities or issues, almost by having a mental conversation with yourself. This forces you to approach it at a higher level rather than a tactical, granular level. My daily commute is like a 90-minute mental run, at least until I get into city traffic. – Amy Bourne, Brad’s Deals
11. Spend Time On What’s Important To You
Long commutes can be a complete waste of time or a great opportunity to invest in yourself. To invest in your learning and growth, I recommend listening to a podcast or Ted Talk. To invest in your relationships, use the commute to call a friend, family member or mentor. To invest in yourself (and your sanity), listen to a guided meditation, do a breathing exercise or listen to relaxing music. – Courtney Brand, The Lighthouse
12. Try A Guided Meditation
If you take public transportation or have a driver, then put on your headphones and try a guided meditation or visualization exercise. There are all kinds of meditations you can experiment with, so just find one that works with your personality. Mindfulness meditations are popular now, but there are others. You might even try a chakra meditation if distractions are minimal. – Corey Lewis, 1AND1 Life
13. Get Ahead On Your To-Dos
One good thing about a long commute is that you have time at your disposal that you can use to catch up on your personal and professional lives. Schedule meetings in advance with your team members who you’d like to follow up after a hectic day or before the start of your day, and before you arrive at your work, you have a team already delivering on your instructions. Now that’s music to my ears! – Syed Gilani, Safr Technologies Inc.
14. Schedule Calls
Invest in a great noise-cancellation headset with a mic to handle hands-free calls during your commute. Consider dedicating “to” time to work and the “from” time to family and friends, or structure in a way that aligns with your goals. This will free up your time where you’re going so you can fully focus there, while also strengthening your relationships and maximizing travel time. – Sara Abbas, Ev0lver Inc.
15. Set Yourself Up For Success To Work On The Road
You need to find ways to be productive during the long commute. Schedule phone calls for general scheming during the commute—chances are one of your coworkers or partners is traveling at the same time. Learn something new by downloading audiobooks. If you fly a lot, be prepared with a small laptop, chargers, cables and headphones, and I use a trackball mouse so I don’t need to move my hand at all. – Matteo Forgione, P.E., Forgione Engineering, Inc.