When we have a long commute each day, we spend a good deal of our time behind the wheel of a car. Since this time is neither spent being productive nor doing something relaxing, it can end up feeling like truly wasted time. We long to use that time for something other than grumbling about the traffic, or listening to the same cheesy morning show. However, there is a fine line between a productive driver and a distracted driver. Follow these Dos and Don’ts to be productive without being a road hazard.
Do… Listen to Podcasts
Podcasts are a great alternative to the radio. If you’re bored of radio’s morning programming, why not use that time to learn something that can help you with your job or hobby? There are podcasts for nearly every industry or interest imaginable. Also, because podcasts are shorter than audio books, you can vary your listening selections from day to day.
Do… Use Your Hands Free Phone
We could all be better at keeping in touch with friends and family. Our lives get busy and we never find time to chat with the people who are important to us, but with a hands free device for your phone, you can use that idle time in the car to keep those connections alive. I’ve also used the time to make lengthy customer service phone calls. For example, you know you’ll be on hold forever if you have to call and ask your cable company a question. Why not make that call when you literally have nothing better to do?
Do…Record Your Ideas
Sometimes we come up with brilliant ideas while we’re alone with our thoughts in the car. Don’t let those ideas go to waste! Use a voice recorder on your cell phone to capture those brilliant thoughts before they leave your head. I’m sure many grand ideas have been lost when I promise myself I’ll write something down as soon as I get to my destination…and then forget.
Don’t… Check Your Email
It starts off innocently enough. We say we’ll just glance at our inbox at a red light. Then the light turns green and we’re still reading. The roads aren’t too crowded so we say we’ll just finish this one paragraph and put the phone down. Remember, when we keep our eyes on the road, it’s less about seeing the things we expect, and more about being prepared for the things we don’t expect — the car in front of us slamming on their breaks, a child running into the road, a ladder falling off the truck in front you, etc… Taking your eyes off the road to check your email is not worth the risk of an accident. Just don’t do it.
Don’t…Put On Makeup
Ladies, ladies. I know we want to look good, but really, putting on mascara takes only a moment. Just do it at home. It’s bad enough when we’re stuck being people who didn’t see the light turn green while they were powdering their nose. It’s worse when people try to do this while actually driving. If you woke up late, throw your “beauty tools” in your bag and take care of your primping when you get to your destination.
Don’t…Eat Food That Needs Two Hands
It’s one thing to sip coffee or a smoothie on your morning or afternoon commute. It’s another thing to try to eat a three-course meal. I’ve seen people eat everything from yogurt, to cereal to salads while behind the wheel. If 9 of your fingers are being used to hold your food and 1 of your fingers is being used to steer, this is not OK.
Finally, in our busy society of constant distractions, we often complain that we never have any time to just…be. Rather than trying to squeeze an extra few drops of productivity out of your commute, you may find it better to just roll down your window, turn off the radio, and breathe once in a while. It certainly wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world!