How to Transform Your Killer Commute Into the Best Part of Your Day
I’ve heard a lot of commuting horror stories: getting stuck in traffic for hours, delayed trains, weirdos on buses, flat tires, spilled coffee, and tons of road rage.
In fact, I used to hate an old job of mine so much that I would get violently ill during the morning drive to the office. My coworkers were so toxic that I was getting sick!
If you work outside of your home, commuting is just a regular part of your work day. Welcome to the rat race and all of that.
But just because it’s a given doesn’t mean it has to be boring, or worse, crazy stressful. Your commute could be delightful if you give it a chance.
Whether you walk, drive, hop on the bus, or cruise the subway, here’s how you can transform your killer commute—and maybe even learn to love it!
Embrace the Transition
OK, so maybe a morning commute isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, especially if you’re heading to a job you hate. But what you might not realize is how your commute gives you 2 transitional periods every day.
Try viewing your morning commute as your preparation for the “fight” that lays ahead of you. Imagine you’re a brave knight putting on your (stylish) armor. Recite mantras and affirmations to build up your self-confidence, such as “I’m a capable employee, and my work has value.
Your evening commute is your chance to decompress and come back to center. It’s your transition from being “on” to being your true self. Use the time to mellow out and calm yourself so you’ll be less likely to snap at your spouse the minute you walk through the door.
Read Like a 12-Year-Old
I don’t know about you, but when I was a pimply middle schooler, I always had my nose in a book. Reading was something I did during all my free time and especially on the bus ride to and from school.
Of course, back then I was more likely to be reading R.L. Stein’s Fear Street saga than the business books I prefer today, but reading gave me a chance to escape the drudgery of the drive.
Pick up a stack of juicy books from the library or go through your collection at home and find some old favorites. I suggest reading a genre that’s completely different than your day job. For instance, if you work in finance, try a book of poetry or interior design. If you’re a stylist, try a book about psychology or why we do the things we do.
I hope it goes without saying that if you’re driving then you should choose an audiobook instead. The Harry Potter books are truly marvelous as audiobooks—perfect for everyone!
Jumpstart Your Day
If you didn’t get a chance to plan your day the night before, use your commute to prep yourself so you can hit the ground running as soon as you’re at your workstation.
Go through your daily meetings and appointments, and then choose 3 main priorities. These are the things that MUST get done even if an alien spaceship starts attacking the building. Non-negotiable tasks, yo!
Also, choose your “frog” for the morning—the ugliest, scariest, un-fun task on your to-do list. Eat your frog first thing, and you’ll feel much more at ease for the rest of the day.
One of my clients drives to work, so she uses a voice-recording app on her phone to organize her thoughts during her commute and as a stream of consciousness exercise. Brilliant!
Connect and Catch Up
Why not start your day by talking to the people you love? Call or text your spouse, kids, or friends for a pick-me-up before your usual 9-to-5. Remember, be safe if you’re driving: use a hands-free setup for calls and avoid texting altogether.
Use your call as a gratitude practice and share 3 things you’re grateful for with a friend every morning. Such a nicer way to begin your day than bitching about your boss!
Keep a running list of folks you haven’t connected with by phone in a while. Then, pick one person every morning (and if you’re up for it, in the evening too) and give him or her a call to catch up and say hello.
Yes, it’s easy to shoot off a quick text, but take the time to make a real phone call if you’re able to. Hearing a friend’s voice can really brighten your morning.
Make your commute extra special by indulging in a guilty pleasure or special treat. Save this special something only for your commuting days, and don’t do it at other times.
Maybe you’ll swing by Starbucks and get your favorite coffee drink. Maybe you’ll listen to a new music playlist. Maybe you’ll watch an episode of a trashy reality TV show.
The point is to make it feel indulgent so you can’t wait to begin your commute instead of dreading it. Plus, a treat for the trip home will ensure that you leave the office on time.
This post focuses on Step 4 of the Life Editing Process, Rearrange Everything Into a Perfect Flow. For more about life editing and what it can do for you, click here.
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I enjoy my commute to work. It takes about 20 minutes for me to get to work. I use the time on the way their to plan. On the way home I destress from my day and sing along with the music.
Jessica @ Sunny Days and Starry Nights
Singing along with music is a fabulous way to destress. I do it all the time! 🙂
Thanks for the peppy take on commute time! I so agree! I commute by car from SF to Palo Alto and I love listening to audible. It is the only reading I get done these days, but I love the alone time. xoxo, Jen
Audible rocks! What are your favorite audio books?
Yes, having a long commute can be productive and fun if you chose to make it that way! Traffic might stink, but when I’m listening to a novel or business book, it’s not as bad. And recording your thoughts while commuting really helps! You can work through a lot in 45 minutes… 😉
I’ve become a connoisseur of sorts when it comes to the narrators of audio books since I’ve had a long commute for over 8 years now. My favorite narrators are Kate Reading, Barbara Rosenblat and, of course, Jim Dale! I also love the voice of Steven Pressfield in “Do the Work.” I actually listened to that one several times.
Thanks for sharing your favorites with us, Erika! I agree, the “Do the Work” audiobook is awesome.
HI Sage! I don’t have a commute per se, but I do wrangle two boys and get them to school everyday. We live on the edge of the school walking limit (1.2km), and I’ve noticed that we are the only ones on the street to actually walk to school everyday.
It’s also really hard for me to get up and be excited to get them to school. It has become a chore, but I want my kids to feel excited for school so I’m hiding it pretty well. Or not. I’m not sure! I know I need to change my attitude about it, but I don’t know how. I’m hoping you have some suggestions?
Hi Lisa! Is there a way you can make your morning routine more fun? Maybe each person can choose a song the night before and you can add them to a playlist. Then you can play it in the morning while everyone gets ready and eats breakfast and have your own family dance party!
Or how about setting a timer to go off every 15 minutes so you know exactly how much time you have left? Is there anything you can pack up or prepare the night before so there’s less to do in the morning? Are there any chores or tasks that you can delegate to your sons?
Great tips! I adore books on tape and kinda still wish I had a solid 45 minutes to myself each day. 🙂
Me too! Having all that extra time was one of the good things about my old corporate job. Thanks for commenting, Ashley!
Great tips, Sage! I used to use my commute to read novels or the newspaper, and sometimes to knit. Lots of mummy friends of mine now do pelvic floor exercises every time they stop at a traffic light!
Thanks for sharing, Lucy! I do meditations at traffic lights, but I’m building up a different kind of muscle–my gratitude muscle! 🙂