How to Make Your Commute More Productive

Contributed content / By Tia Philippart / 2 January 2019

Thinking about work as you’re commuting to the office can seem like a productive use of your time. But you might be doing more harm than good. Check out these 5 methods to make the most of your commute.

Many people are guilty of thinking about work outside of the office, including on the commute to and from work. A commute should be filled with productive practices rather than thoughts about work. That way, you can enter your workday completely refreshed and avoid mental blocks.

A recent study shows that nearly 40% of Americans are “almost always” thinking about work on their commute — not allowing for an essential break from work. When commuting, we don’t have the power to act on our work thoughts. So, ruminating about them will just create mental strain, which we’ll most likely bring into the office!

It’s easy to recognize which commute habits we need to kick to the curb, so let’s replace them with ones that will set us up for success! Review these 5 productive commute methods below.

5 Ways to Be Productive During Your Commute

  1. Say your goals out loud
  2. Meditate to clear your mind
  3. Chat with family and friends
  4. Think about positive mantras
  5. Listen to interesting podcasts or audio books

1. Say Your Goals Out Loud

Most drivers are guilty of replaying work scenarios in their head while driving. Although you may want to continuously think about work or work feedback, letting go of those thoughts is in your best interest.

Say Your Goals Out Loud

Instead of ruminating about work, try repeating your goals out loud. Research suggests that there are benefits to talking to yourself, especially if your intent is positive.

If you’re not sure where to start, try out some of these common topics:

  • Trying a new workout routine
  • Creating goals for personal projects
  • Reading a certain number of pages of a book
  • Practicing a new language
  • Incorporating a healthier diet
  • Establishing a routine to go to bed and wake up

To remember your goals, leave a sticky note in your car. That way, you’ll consistently repeat them and reinforce the habit.

2. Meditate to Clear Your Mind

Practicing a presentation over and over again leads to frustration and stress. Instead, a calm mental space will set you up for a more successful workday.

meditate to clear your mind

To create a tranquil mindset, practice mediating during your drive. You could be mindful by focusing on the road ahead of you, or try out a meditation app to guide you through the process. There are also plenty of recordings online on YouTube.

Having a clear head can help lower your stress as you get to work, so you won’t feel as burnt out at the start of the day.

3. Chat With Family and Friends

While on your way to work, you may receive a work call or message that seems urgent. Generally, these types of messages can wait until you are settled in the office.

chat with family and friends

Instead of consuming your drive with stressful work calls, try calling a family member or friend. This is a great way to improve your work-personal life balance, and you get to catch up, too!

Of course, we advise all drivers to remain safe while calling. Use your phone’s speaker functions or a headset, and put family members and close friends on speed dial.

4. Think About Positive Mantras

Some work issues can disturb our thoughts as we’re going through our daily life. Entering the office when you’ve been thinking about unresolved work issues is exhausting. Plus, it doesn’t solve anything!

think about positive mantras

The next time you catch yourself ruminating overwork thoughts on your commute, repeat positive mantras instead.

Here are some great positive mantras you can repeat in the car on your way to work. They will put you in a great mood when entering your workday:

  • I am gifted and talented.
  • I have the determination I need to conquer today.
  • I believe in myself.
  • I am grateful for my health.
  • I am grateful for the people in my life.
  • I am grateful for every tough situation I have learned from.

As with our first suggestion, write down some positive mantras on a sticky note to remind yourself to repeat them. And know that whatever unresolved issue is waiting for you at work will still be there when you come in, so take the time for yourself instead.

5. Listen to Interesting Podcasts or Audiobooks

Listening to the latest updates of your industry is important, but you do need a break from thinking about work all the time! Otherwise, you may be exhausting yourself by letting work consume your life.

listen to interesting podcasts or audiobooks

Take a break by listening to podcasts that you’re actually interested in.

New to podcasts? Here are some recommendations that might pique your interest:

  • The Joe Rogan Experience – This long-form podcast features guests such as comedians, professional athletes, scientists, and more to help expand your mind.
  • The Greater Good ­– This podcast focuses on the science behind having a meaningful life. Leading researchers and thinkers from UC Berkeley explore the roots of compassion, happiness, and morality.
  • The Thrive Global Project ­– This interview-based podcast from Arianna Huffington contains a wealth of advice about how you can protect yourself from burnout and overwork to be more successful.
  • The Knowledge Project – Shane Parrish interviews some of the most remarkable people around the globe, from writers to surgeons, to explore the mental models you can use to make life more productive.
  • Stuff to Blow Your Mind – This conversational show is geared towards those curious about science. Explore neurological quandaries, cosmic mysteries, evolutionary marvels and questions like “How does greed work?” and “Can money buy happiness?”

By listening to podcasts and audiobooks, you can learn and maintain intellectual during even an otherwise draining commute.

Let Your Commute Work for You

If you noticed that your commutes feel more stressful rather than refreshing, chances are that you are focusing on work in an unproductive way. It’s important to draw boundaries between your work and personal life.

Try letting the commute be for you. You’ll likely notice that you’re more energetic and productive at work since you’re taking a well-deserved break. Set reminders for each of these methods every morning, and try a new one every day to see what fits best for you.

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