I’m almost embarrassed to tally up how much time I spend in the car each day, on my multiple daily commutes, and try not to think about it because it bugs me that it’s time spent driving where I can’t get ACTUAL work done. I am a sucker for anything that helps me save time and am always looking for way to reduce time spent on certain activities and increase time spent on more productive ones.
Although I can’t work while driving, I have found several ways to make that commute more productive. If you’re going to be stuck in a car for two plus hours a day, you may as well make the best use of your time.
Listen to Podcasts
I know it’s 2017, but I’ve only recently embraced the podcast love. My go to shows are typically writing and SEO podcasts. I absolutely love listening to these and absorb all of the information. This makes me feel like I haven’t wasted any of my time spent behind the wheel, and helps me edge in some educational time I wouldn’t get otherwise. This is definitely thre number one way that I maximize y commute and get the most out of MY personal time spent in the car.
Brainstorm and Take Notes
After I drop my children off in the morning, I still have a 20 minute car ride home. I like to use this time to think about my day ahead and plan how I’m going to get the most out of it. Sometimes I brainstorm blog titles; sometimes it’s a business idea or for a freelance project. Whatever it is, that 20 minute car ride is a great time to embrace the rare quiet and do some thinking.
I’m not advocating writing while you’re driving OR playing with your phone. There are a variety of apps available that allow you to take notes without ever taking your eyes off the road. Both Evernote and Dragon Dictation are popular voice to text apps that allow you to maximize your commute time by still jotting down thoughts and notes while being safe.
Have Your Email Read to You
Emails are the current bane of my existence. I receive so many each day that it becomes impossible to ever clear my inbox and I constantly stress about things I may have missed. There’s an app for that.
Talkler is my app of choice for having emails read to me. I’m able to make sure I don’t miss a thing and catch up on the backlog of emails while still safely driving. If I want to know who just emailed while on my 20 mile commute, I just ask Talkler to read it for me.
It’s easily voice controlled and all you have to do is say, “Hey Talkler, play the next one” and soon you’ll hear that email about your child’s behavior in class on Monday that you missed three days ago. Oops.
Listen to an Audiobook on Your Commute
I give advice better than I take it, so I can honestly say I’ve never gotten much into audiobooks, but I can see why you would! Rather spending your precious spare time when you could be refreshing Facebook over and over to physically read a book, you can have one read for you. I’ve personally never been much into fiction and prefer to learn something when I read, so podcasts are the way for me. However if you don’t have the time you used to to read YA Romance and bite your nails wondering if Sophi is going to choose Thomas or Aaron, then audiobooks may be for you.
Reach Out to People
With Bluetooth and speakerphone, there are a number of ways to safely have conversations with people while on the road. Use some of this time to catch up with people.
I call my mom every single Friday morning, either between 815-845 or 905-10. I’m always in my car at these times and she’s off work on Friday, so I know it’s a good time to reach out to her. I look forward to our weekly chats while I’m driving, and am glad that she understands I just really don’t have time to do it otherwise.
- Make your appointments that you know will come with an automatic email reminder and you don’t need to immediately jot them down.
- Reach out to business contacts and use that time to discuss things that won’t require you to write.
- Find out what your day at work is going to be like ahead of time. Before I even get home, after dropping off my last child, I call and check into work for the day. This allows me to go over the day’s notes and find out what’s expected me for the day, and when I get home to work I can just start.
Bond with Your Kids
Play silly word games. Tell them you saw a cow. Ask how their days’ were.
When we get home it’s an immediate firestorm of “What 15 snacks can I eat?” and “Can you sign this paper that was due three days ago?”. Using the time on our ride home from school to talk to each kid and find out about their days allows us to ease into the afternoon and lets me in on vital information they would forget about otherwise.
On our morning car ride from home to school, I often listen to NPR and my 11 year old listens with me. He asks me questions about things he hears and we get to connect through learning. Some of our best conversations have happened on morning car rides.
I like to catch them in the morning when they’re still in a good mood and want to be around me. While I love our afternoon talks on the ride home about how their days’ were, they’re often suffering from low-blood sugar shit moods and have a mountain of ants in their pants.
How Do You Make the Most of Your Time Spent in the Car?
Have you found any other ways to make the most of your time spent in the car? On average, how much of your day is spent commuting?