7 Steps to the Productive Commute

Ahhh...the commute. At times painful (but mostly just a pain,) commuting to and from work can sometimes take hours depending on traffic. Taking a bus, train, or carpool (yay environment!) may help you on the stress level, but still eats up precious minutes.

We normally view our commute negatively: it’s something that keeps us from doing other, more productive things. However, it’s a shift in perspective that can make your commute awesome. Instead of viewing your commute as a necessary evil, try viewing it as “me time.” This is a set amount of uninterrupted time to do with as you wish (safely, of course.) As soon as you view it as a little chunk of paradise before and after a crazy day, your world gets a little brighter.

1. Use Pocket to curate some off-line news

Pocket is this awesome little app (and plug-in) that lets you save and curate articles to read later without wifi or data. For example, have them automatically dump the New York Times’ top articles without any fuss. Or see an interesting story but no time to read it? Pocket it for later.

2. Bring a book

How many of us complain about not having enough time to read a book? There is no better time to get some quality reading done than your bus or train ride. I’m pages away from finishing All the Light We Cannot See” (could not recommend it more) and read it almost entirely on my commute to work over a month or so. Fiction not your thing? Try some reading about being more creative (“Big Magic” is a great one), or furthering your career (“Own It: The Power of Women at Work”, “Start With Why”,) or finding happiness (“The Geography of Bliss.”) There are more books than we can count, and so much reading to be done.

3. Check your email (but don't respond)

Those emails can wait for replies (unless they can’t...you know those emails.) But simply looking through your inbox gives you automatic goals to start the day. By sorting through your emails (but not drafting a response), you’re giving yourself a leg-up on work without actually engaging. See what’s going to be your first priority when you get in the office -- that way, you’re prepared for what’s to come and can mull it over on your way in.

4. Download some podcasts

This one you can do in your car (the first three definitely should not be!) From food to career to lifestyle to comedy to travel, there is a podcast for everything. On Sunday while you’re doing your laundry, set your iTunes to automatically download a week’s worth of content that you can soak up. Some of our favorites: Adulthood Made Easy, Planet Money, Crimetown, and Magic Lessons.

5. Make a call

You remember your grandma? Yeah, that grandma...the one you haven’t called in weeks. When things get busy, it’s easy to forget to take 5 minutes and check in with your loved ones on the walk to work. Just asking how they’ve been and letting them know you’re thinking of them will undoubtedly brighten their day, and yours.

6. Meditate

Remember that whole “use your commute as me time” thing? Now’s the perfect time for a bit of self-care. Calm is my favorite app/website for meditation: you can choose exactly the length of time you want to meditate (from 3 minutes to an hour,) and can pick whether you want a lovely phantom voice guiding you through it or not. Complete with a beautiful scenery picture and nature sounds (that you again get to pick), you’re on your way to bliss. And even better, Calm has a guided meditation for every situation, even one called Commute!

7. Learn a language

I don't know about you, but I literally feel this daily intense need to be chic enough to speak fluent French. Luckily, apps like Duolingo are free and cane assist you in learning that new language! And a little-known tip: Spotify also has playlists full of language lessons, in addition to international music!


What did you love about your commute? Join the conversation.


RESOURCES

I get asked all the time: what are your favorite money management tools?

Charlie: My go-to (free!) budgeting tool that tracks your spending and progress towards goals.

Ebates: Gives you free cash back on almost all your favorite stores via a desktop plug-in.

Trim: You remember that time where I talked about how you should be negotiating all of your bills? (You should.) I know it's scary — that's where Trim comes in. Trim will negotiate cable and phone bills FOR YOU.

Status: Wanna see if you’re on track when it comes to your monthly spending and total savings? This (again, free) tool compares your financial numbers to others in your age group, city, etc.

Personal Capital: The tool I check daily, Personal Capital is the best tool for tracking your net worth and your progress towards goals like saving, debt payoff, and (yes!) $100K.

The $100K Club Facebook Group: Need some honest money conversations in your life? Join my free community to get your burning questions answered.

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