Isn’t it ironic how often we hear the phrase “I don’t have the time for that”? It’s funny how easy it is to come up with excuses for why we can’t commit to or accomplish something. I can tell you right now that you can maximize your commute to work to solve for plenty of these tasks.
According to the US Census Bureau, the average daily commute time is 52.2 minutes for Americans. Let’s just assume that your daily commute to work is 30 minutes. That is 2.5 hours of opportunity each week, and over 100 hours per year!
But what can we accomplish while avoiding getting in a wreck (if driving)? You probably know and already do the obvious things like listening to the news, audiobooks, and podcasts, which is a great start! In this article we will focus on a few unique ways that you can reach a whole new level of productivity.
Take an E-Learning Course
You have been accepted into Windshield University!
It is now easier than ever before to polish up new skills with the plethora of e-learning platforms available. Taking classes on personal development, entrepreneurship, or career development can be accomplished by listening along with the lessons from your car speakers. There may be times where you need to take action outside of your commute to practice the concepts from the course, but this is a great way to capitalize on such a mundane task.
Think about how you could advance with your career or business if your goal is to complete one class per month. After a while, you could become an expert in your field.
Read and Manage Emails
Is your inbox full of emails every morning? First of all, check out our guide here to get that inbox clean and reduce the inflow of messages. Unfortunately emails are still an integral part of business operations and are not completely avoidable, but let’s knock out those few emails that remain during the commute!
Speaking Email is an app that will help you manage your inbox by reading your emails to you, then let you take actions such as Delete, Archive, Flag, or Mark as Unread. While not the fastest means of email management, it’s great to be caught up on everything before you sit down at your desk. Combine this with our next tip and you just might have the response email done before sitting at your desk too!
Feel free to reach out if you need help from the Get Automated team to set this up correctly.
Get Thoughts Into Writing With Dictation Apps
Ever notice how some of the most useful conversations we have are with ourselves, and often in the shower or the car? Also notice how we usually forget the useful details quickly? Well not anymore! It’s time to start using a dictation app on your phone to capture those valuable thoughts into written form to reference later. Whether you are just brainstorming how to solve a problem at work, trying to write an email, or just getting ideas for your next blog post (yes, this article is partially written with my mouth), dictation software will help you capture and organize your thoughts and make the most of your commute to work.
There are a lot of apps out there that will help you with this task, both free and paid. Your phone probably even has the ability to perform dictation built in, but the beauty of a dictation app is in the added organization and searchability they offer. At Get Automated, we have been using otter.ai (iphone / android) with great success. It has an incredible free option that includes many solid features and up to 600 minutes of use per month. If money is no problem, then Dragon will be your best bet, as it is still considered the undisputed champion of dictation software.
Learn a New Language
Learning a new language can be a difficult task, but the most important key to learning one is simply spending more time learning. Imagine how much faster you’ll learn if you can capitalize on your commute to work. The total amount of time needed to learn a new tongue varies greatly on the language and proficiency level you desire, but it will take a minimum of a few 100 of hours to reach your desired outcome. If you can squeeze in even 15 minutes in a commute, twice per day, 5 days per week, that adds up to well over 100 hours of learning in a year!
The most effective learning tools combine auditory, vocal, and visual learning elements, but driving means you are restricted to auditory and vocal learning only. There are a lot of great apps for learning, but our two favorites that work great for commuting are Duolingo (free!) and Pimsleur.
Pimsleur’s main lessons are generally ~30 minutes each and require zero visual/physical interaction, which is perfect if you are driving. There are additional interactive elements available, but the heart of each lesson is just listening and repeating. Pimsleur can be a bit costly, but totally worth it if you’re committed to learning a foreign language. If you ride the bus or are otherwise not driving during your commute, there’s no excuse not to start learning with Duolingo because it’s free!
Change Your Commute
Not everyone will be able to make a change, but it’s worth evaluating your current commute situation to see if there may be a more viable option that can yield greater productivity, and maybe even save you some time or money! Here are a few ways you might be able to change your commute to work:
- Take the bus – many buses have wifi, so you can work on the way!
- Carpool – work while someone drives you!
- If your commute isn’t too far, ride a bike and get a great workout.
- If you walk – consider a hoverboard or scooter to speed things up.
- For the rich and daring – get a Tesla and let it drive for you!
- Pitch the idea of working from home periodically to your boss.
Maximize What You Already Do
We get it – the tips we outlined above aren’t for everyone and certainly can be more taxing as you rise to a new level of productivity. But if you’re planning to stick to standard listening activities, then here are a few tips to ensure you maximize your commute.
Audiobooks: If you have shorter commutes, or like to get the most content in the least amount of time, then I really recommend checking out Blinkist. This service takes multi-hour audiobooks and gives you the key takeaways and highlights in just a few minutes and is an absolute must-have for lifelong learners.
If you’re not sure where to begin your Audiobook journey, Audible has an incredible amount of fantastic content and offers a 30-day free trial to start. Depending on the length of your commute, you can usually finish books in just a week or two.
Podcasts: Podcasts can vary in length and you might feel discouraged to listen to a longer one during your commute. Try adjusting the playback speed inside the Podcasts app so you can get more listening done within the same amount of time. You can use the same trick for Youtube and other online players too!
It may take some effort to create a new system for maximizing your commute each day. Once your method is established, you will be able to achieve so much more without thinking about it.
Remember that these these activities should only ever come second to your first task, which is arriving safely! Take time to ease into using these new techniques and focus on safety first.
Be sure to let us know about your own tricks for staying productive in your commutes!