How to make the most of your commute & increase your productivity

I leave the office at 5 p.m.  I am often tired, my mind races from the day, and somewhere between work and home I feel the transition come over me from a work mindset to a home mindset.  Once the transition happens I begin to think about everything that needs done at home.  If I am lucky I will be able to shift my mind and focus on things at home when I get there, but often that does not happen.  Many times I have stops to make on the way home which delays my getting there and getting started.

Once I enter the door the mad dash starts.  I only have so many hours to get everything done.  There is dinner, laundry, checking in with the kids, my MBA homework, picking up the house, reading I want to do, emails to check, somehow making time to connect with my husband, and side projects I am working on.  Others have small children, their school homework, second jobs, outside activities, meetings, nonprofits they serve at, cleaning, bills to pay, errands to run, and on and on.  We rush to work and dash all day trying to get things done.  We rush home and start all over again.  We think that a couple weeks vacation will save us.  This goes on for years and somewhere along the way we lose ourselves.  Who am I and what do I want to do?

Using our time intentionally

When time is limited we must use it intentionally if we are going to have the time to be creative in our personal lives, create solutions to life problems, develop ourselves, and our outside interests.  If we just keep letting things happen we may lose ourselves along the way and it won’t be until a life event happens that we will find our way back.  If we use our time intentionally we can ensure we are developing ourselves, have the time to work on side projects, discover new things we want to do with our lives, go back to college, or just enjoy life.


Let’s think about how we can use our time in the car intentionally.  I spend an hour and a half each day traveling to and from work.  It’s time that feels wasted, but when I use it intentionally it becomes productive and helps me to transition successfully so that when I arrive home I am ready to tackle what waits for me there.

Some ideas for how you can use your commute:

1. Play podcasts

  • That support your current projects
  • That teach you something new
  • That expose you to a new topic

2. Play audio books

3. Listen to college lectures

4. Listen to music

  • That helps you clear your mind
  • Stimulate creativity
  • Helps you get away

5. Think intentionally.

  • Silence your cell phone
  • Write down topics that you need to think through during the day
  • Brainstorm ideas.  Record them on your phone when you get home or pull over and record them
  • Think through work tasks and sort them out mentally
  • Think about your family and home and begin to shift mentally and focus on them.
  • Identify what is bothering you and determine what you can do about it
  • Identify what you can’t control and mentally file that away.
  • Day dream about where you want your life to be if you were honest.

6. Rehearse a conversation

  • Practice handling a difficult situation at home or work.
  • Practice giving someone bad news.
  • Practice a speech or presentation you need to make at work.
  • Practice a new language.
  • Practice talking to your kids in a positive and supportive way.

7. Sing.

8. Learn to enjoy silence.

  • Turn everything off and learn to enjoy the quiet.
  • Listen to the breeze.
  • Listen for birds.
  • Listen to the sound of the pavement.
  • Listen to horns and learn to enjoy their sound.

9. Observe

  • Practice your observation skills by noticing the environment around you.
  • Spot buildings, people, and landmarks.
  • Watch how people drive and observe their pace.
  • Observe your own actions after a long day and note your thought life.
  • Notice the way you drive and how that affects others.

There is a lot we can do in the car!  All of these things will help you live intentionally, increase your creativity, help you develop yourself, and help you transition from a busy day to home.

The most important parts of our life happen everyday.  If we want to accomplish our goals we need to take consistent action.  If we just let life pass us by we can get caught up in something that takes us far away from who we are.  Once we get in the habit of using our time intentionally we will actually look forward to the next opportunity to focus on something important to us.  As the end of my work day draws near I look forward to my afternoon commute.  What will it be?  A podcast, silence, thinking intentionally, or observation.  Today, a podcast.  I am ready to take some next steps and need the encouragement to do so.

Take control of your life.  You won’t be disappointed.

Marcy Pedersen


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