At the end of the day–quite literally–commuting is a necessary evil. After all, work allows you to bring home the paycheck that will help you reach your financial goals, and you need to get there. Follow these eight tips to make your back and forth (no matter how long), better.
2 of 9Jim Cooper
Catch Up on Your (Audio) Reading
Getting engrossed in a good story is a great way to fight off feelings of being disconnected or unhappy. Non-drivers can use an actual book or e-reader, but drivers will want to download an audio book. Many libraries let you borrow audio books for free, and some public library systems actually let you download MP3 and WMA files directly, without showing up to the library.
Here’s a trick: Only allow yourself to listen to your book when commuting. That way, a little part of you will actually look forward to your time on the road.
3 of 9Image Source/Getty Images
Rehearse Your Big Sell
… Or presentation, or tricky email, or pitch for a promotion. Even if you’re not projecting to the entire train car, you can learn your lines, go over your body language and get ready to win it. Author Malcolm Gladwell posits that it takes 10,000 hours, or roughly four hours per day for ten years, to become an expert at your chosen task. While we hope you won’t be spending enough time commuting to achieve that kind of expertise, you can at least master your pitch.
4 of 9Jupiterimages / Getty Images
Learn a New Language
Keep your mind engaged and grow your knowledge by learning that language on your bucket list. This is probably better for drivers only, as audio language programs require audible repetition. After a half hour or more of instruction per day, you’ll be ready to face le travail.
5 of 9 Jonny Valiant
Get on Top of Your Inbox
A smartphone is great for Angry Birds, but it’s even better for sorting through your inbox—provided you aren’t driving. This means your email will be squared away by the time you get home, so you can turn off your phone and be fully present with your family once you walk in the door. We found some good tips from Microsoft on managing your inbox with supreme efficiency.
6 of 9Paul Sunday
Relax Your Eyes
Staring at a computer all day can cause headaches and damage our eyes, among other ills. But you can use your time on the road to do right by yourself physically. Exercising your eyes can help reduce eye fatigue—just follow the 20/20/20 rule: Focus on an object at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds, every 20 minutes. Or, put away your phone entirely and roll your eyes clockwise, counterclockwise, and then up-down, up-down.
7 of 9 Andrew McCaul
Boost Your Endorphins
Singing may release endorphins and relieve stress, and (because it encourages you to breathe deeply and use your body) serious singing is actually considered an aerobic exercise! If you drive to work, crank up the tunes and sing along as loudly as you dare. If you commute by train or bus, you might have to content yourself with quiet humming, or singing along in your head. But, how often do you have total control over the music without a little one begging for Dora? Relax and visit your happy place.
8 of 9Christine Balderas/Getty Images
Use this time to go over your spending from the past day or week. Are you on track with your budget? Are there any areas in which you’re overspending and could cut back?
9 of 9paper-source.com
Make a Mental Gratitude List
Finally, nothing adds sparkle to a traffic jam like a deep breath and three things you’re grateful for at that very moment. After all, things can’t be so bad if you can find reasons to be grateful—even if it’s just to be on the way home.