Series: Travel

12 Long Commute to Work Tips: How to be Productive

Posted on Jun 4, 2020

The commute to work can seem long and tedious — but it doesn’t have to. Commuting to work offers a prime time to get things done and clear your head.

For those of us who have jobs that allow you to travel to and from a place of work every day, this article was made for you. We’ve compiled a list of our best long commute to work tips, so you can feel productive and proactive during those drives, train rides, and seemingly infinite subway stops.

If you utilize that long commute effectively, instead of caving to the surrounding distractions, you’ll have more time for other things.

Commuting In the Car

At first, a car ride to and from work can make you feel stuck and anxious. Luckily, there are some great ways for how to be productive while driving that you can implement both before and after work. Think of your commute as precious time to yourself, where you’re granted the opportunity to get things done and feel good while you do it.

1. Turn on the Tunes

The psychological benefits of a good playlist are vast. Not only does music improve your mood, but it can also provide comfort and reduce stress. If traffic has you feeling all kinds of anxiety, crank those tunes and do a little singing while you’re at it. It’s typical to fall into the same playlist over and over, which can seem monotonous and boring after a while (even though we all have our favorite go-to’s). For an uplifting exercise, make a new playlist during the weekend so you have something to look forward to once Monday rolls around.

2. Make a Mental Checklist

Although you’re not able to physically write a to-do list when you’re driving, you can still do some mental work while traveling to and from the office. Make a mental checklist of things you’d like to accomplish during the day. Pick a number that works well, like say, 5 items tops. This will help you weave through the mental clutter and focus on the most important tasks at hand. When you get to the office, jot your checklist down or write it on your phone’s notepad. You can do a similar exercise on your way home, too.

3. Stay Present

Getting caught up in all the daily work frustrations is easy to do on a commute home. Instead, stay present, and reflect on the positive aspects of the workday. Maybe there was a pleasant interaction with a new coworker, a tip or trick learned, or a task you completed that you’re proud of. Stay present during the drive by recounting the positive moments of the day, and you’ll be more likely to enter through your front door knowing the day was well spent.

4. Listen to Audio Books

When you’re commuting to work in the morning or coming home in the evening, nothing cures boredom like a good audiobook. To get the hang of listening while driving, start with an author you know you enjoy. Similar to physically turning the page of a good book — you’ll be amazed just how quickly these audio words will sweep you away. If you want to take your audiobook listening to the next level, enlist some fellow commuters and start an audiobook club. You can all listen to the same book, then get together physically (or on the phone during a commute) and swap thoughts and ideas.

5. Put on a Podcast

Podcasts are a great way to pass the time and are one of our top choices for how to be productive while driving. There are plenty of inspiring conversations that can get you feeling motivated for the workday ahead. Set aside some time during the weekend to do some digging and see which podcasts speak to you. Like a good TV show, once you find a podcast you love — you’ll be eager to get into the car, turn it in, and tune out.

6. Connect with a Phone Call

As long as it’s hands-free and safe, commuting to work is the perfect time to catch up with your loved ones. Maybe you’ve been meaning to call your mom or a dear friend. When you’re trapped on the freeway, there’s no better time to share stories and laughs with a friend or family member. Remember that a phone call doesn’t have to be long to be meaningful — it can be as simple as checking in and letting someone know you’re thinking about them.

7. Prepare for Your Day

When you’re driving to work, your options can seem limited. One of our best long commute to work tips is to prepare for the day ahead. Maybe you have an upcoming presentation, a speech, or an important meeting with clients. Consider this alone time your moment to shine. Speak your words out loud to help with memorization and confidence. Practice your tone —and ask yourself what kind of message you’re trying to convey. Just as you might practice or rehearse in the mirror, you can do the same thing behind the wheel.

Commuting On Public Transit

Although you can also do all of the above on public transit, here are some additional tasks you can do when you’re not driving. Public transit offers tons of hidden opportunities for productivity. Here are some of our favorites.

8. Meditate

One of the best ideas, when you’re commuting to work on the train or public transportation, is to put in your headphones and zone out. Use a meditation application on your phone or download some simple guided meditations to listen to. Along with a big list of benefits, meditating before or after work can lengthen your attention span, help control anxiety, and promote your overall emotional well-being. Remember that meditating can be done in different ways — some people prefer to write in a journal while others prefer to practice breathing exercises. The trick is to find what works best for you and your day’s workflow.

9. Make a To-Do List

A to-do list is always a good way to clear the pre and post-work brain fog. Physically writing out what you need to do will help keep your tasks organized and clear your mind for the day of work ahead. Some commuters prefer making one giant to-do list on a Monday and slowly checking it off throughout the week. Others like the easy of a once-daily or twice daily (morning and evening) to-do list to keep it all on track. Find what works for you, grab a fun pen, and jot those notes. Alternatively, if you have a trip coming up, do yourself a favor and craft a business trip packing list. This to-do (or to-pack) list will help keep your head on straight if you’re venturing out of town anytime soon.

10. Read

If you’re used to being on the computer all day at work, bid farewell to the screen and stick your nose in a good old fashioned book. Reading is a wonderful way to unwind before or after a long day at work. If you’re looking for long commute to work tips that are good for your mental well-being, get lost in a good book. Turn to a business book to fine-tune a skill or skip the work thoughts and go for fiction instead.

11. Catch up on Texts and Emails

If you’re in a line of work that overflows with texts and emails, one of the best ways to make use of your commuting time is to play catch up. It’s easy to get consumed with emails and texts; but if you pick a couple of hours every day to tackle them, you’re less likely to get overwhelmed. Give yourself an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening on your way home to cross your emails and texts off the list. You might find that life at the office and at home seems less stressful when you do so.

12. Learn a Skill

Not everyone will be interested in pulling out the yarn and needle on the train — but commuting certainly offers a prime time to learn a new skill. In addition to attempting to crochet, you can try a language or a music app. Take a creative writing course or invest in a sketch pad and some new colored pencils. Maybe you’re interested in how to eat healthy while traveling for work or how to meal prep all your lunches — throw a few nutrition magazines in your work bag and take notes. Learning a new skill is different for everyone because we all have different interests. The tip for making your commute both fun and productive is to find a skill that excites you.

Whether you drive to work or take the train, we hope this list helps increase your productivity and pave the way for a positive workday ahead.

If you have any other favorite tips for commuting to work, feel free to share them with our community in the comments below. Good luck on the drive or ride ahead!

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