12 Ways To Make Your Commute to Work More Productive

12 Ways To Make Your Commute to Work More Productive

Commuting to work can be quite a hassle. According to a recent Upwork report, the average person spends almost an hour a day commuting, with that commuting time only getting longer and longer by the year. Compared to about 20 years ago, daily commutes have increased by about 11 minutes.

But what if you didn’t have to worry about a commute? By working from home, you don’t have to. Remote work has become much more popular and accessible, with many jobs available on remote work platforms like Upwork.

Even if you’ve found remote work, you may still need to go into an office occasionally or to another specific location to get a task done. During those times when a long commute is necessary, it can be challenging to make the most of your time. If you’re interested in maximizing benefits from your commute or passing the time, here are some suggestions to get you started.

1. Listen to a podcast

Sometimes, the best way to help pass the time is to immerse yourself in something interesting, entertaining, and educational. While making your daily commute, take advantage of “me time” while in a vehicle or riding public transportation. Turn on the radio, put on your headphones (if riding in public), and listen to a podcast, particularly one related to your work industry, a hobby, or hosted by one of your favorite personalities.

Research shows that as of July 2021, there are over 2 million podcasts and 48 million episodes, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding one that interests you. However, if you aren’t familiar with any podcasts, use sites like Listen Notes to find one. This user-friendly search engine allows you to browse through podcasts based on trending keywords. In addition, you can browse through top picks and even search through podcasts currently playing at the very moment you’re on the site. With 64% of Americans listening to podcasts while driving, this is clearly a popular option for your commute.

Choosing a podcast with an educational element to it can help you grow professionally and provide the right kind of positive mental stimulation to jump-start your workday.

2. Mix up your mode of transportation

If you’re lucky enough to live relatively close to where you work, use your commute time to do some good for both your body and the environment. Leave your car parked, and lessen your carbon footprint by biking—or walking—to work and using your shorter commute to get some exercise.

You can purchase a basket to attach to your handlebars or hook onto the back of your bike to hold your belongings. If your office building has a shower room available for use, bring toiletries and a change of clothes so that you can rinse off before sitting down to work. Should biking become a regular habit for you, consider leaving clothing and toiletries in your office so you don’t have to carry them while riding to work.

3. Listen to an audiobook

Another idea is to listen to an audiobook. Depending on your preference, you might prefer something fictional and fun to liven up the mood during your commute or something research-heavy by thought leaders in your community or field of work.

There are various services to help you find an audiobook to suit your needs, including Audible, Apple Books, and Google Play Books. But you’ll need to purchase audiobooks if you use services like these.

Fortunately, though, there are library-loaning apps that allow you to borrow audiobooks for free. The only downside to that is—just as with physical books at the library—you may have to be placed on a waiting list if the audiobook you want is currently out. You generally have to return it once the loan is over.

4. Catch up with friends or family

We all have those friends and family members we wish we talked to more often. That long commute to and from work is the perfect time for it! Use this time—if you’re driving in your car or walking—to connect with a loved one whom you haven’t spoken to in a while.

You might not have time to call them during your busy workweek, so use your commute to your advantage. Doing this may also help lift any guilt you feel for not having the time to call your loved ones during the week. Additionally, catching up while in the car can help you make better use of your time elsewhere.

5. Carpool

Save money on gas, parking, and more by teaming up with a colleague to carpool to work. You can alternate days so that one person isn’t doing all of the driving. Carpooling with a team member also gives you a chance to talk about any work-related items that might need addressing, such as bouncing ideas off one another before going into a meeting or practicing for any public speaking engagements. Teaming up as commuters together might make the travel time a lot less daunting as well and can help strengthen your work relationship since you’ll be getting to know each other on a more personal level.

6. Check off items on your to-do list that aren’t work-related

The thing about commuting to work is that it can leave little time for other non-work-related tasks. So, having an extra half-hour or so on either end of your workday to get some of the “little things” done can prove beneficial and may even alleviate some stress and anxiety. Additionally, a work-life balance is a lot easier to manage when you actually have time to get these things done.

Again, this tip works best for those who are using public transit. Use this time to check off items on your to-do list that have nothing to do with your work, such as paying bills, organizing family activities, scheduling doctor’s appointments, shopping online for necessities, and following up on social media or other personal emails.

7. Get a jump-start on work

There’s no better time to get a jump-start on your work than when you are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed on your morning commute. This particular tip works best for those who aren’t driving a vehicle to work but taking public transportation instead, and who can comfortably sit down and work from a laptop or phone. This is the perfect opportunity to check your email, create agendas for upcoming meetings, draft documents or presentations, and work on any other small tasks that can be done during this time frame.

Even if you’re driving during your commute, you can still use your time to get ahead of the day. Here’s an idea: Use the voice recorder on your phone to record your to-do list. This can help increase your productivity level since you may not have time to think about the various things that need to be completed once you get to work.

8. Learn a new skill to help you grow professionally

With work, family, and other responsibilities looming over your head, you might find it hard to take a “time out” and focus on yourself. Your early morning and late afternoon commute is the ticket! Prioritizing “me time” is important for overall health and well-being—and beneficial in so many ways.

Namely, it can help lower stress, reduce anxiety, and increase happiness, energy, and productivity. So, whether you only have a 10- or 15-minute commute, or a longer commute, any amount of time spent on yourself can help.

This “me time” can also be used to learn a new skill that can help you grow professionally. Maybe there’s a specific software or piece of equipment specific to the work you do that you need to learn how to use to increase your rate. What better time to perfect this skill than when you have this free time at your fingertips?

Not only is this an opportunity to grow professionally, but it’s also a chance to grow inward and personally. Meditation is a great way to find inner peace and calmness before starting a potentially hectic workday; it can also potentially spark creativity that can benefit your career.

There are plenty of apps available that provide all kinds of guided meditations, some of which are even free. Some examples include Calm and Headspace.

9. Update online professional profiles

In addition to these great ideas for using your time wisely while commuting, consider using this time to work on your professional online profiles, including networking sites like LinkedIn or remote work platforms like Upwork. Keeping your profiles up to date is important for furthering your career and exploring potential work opportunities.

10. Engage in virtual networking

Highlight the benefits of using commute time for networking through social media and professional platforms. Offer tips on engaging in meaningful conversations, joining relevant groups, or participating in online forums related to their field.

11. Reflect and set daily goals

Discuss the benefits of using commute time for self-reflection and goal setting. Emphasize how planning daily objectives during the commute can help individuals stay focused and motivated throughout the day. Encourage the use of voice-activated devices or smartphone features for brainstorming sessions and note-taking. Drivers can record voice memos to capture ideas, to-do lists, or even start drafting documents verbally.

12. Engage in mindful breathing or visualization

Explore how commuters can use mindfulness techniques like deep breathing or visualization to reduce stress and enhance mental clarity. Offer suggestions for simple exercises that can be done even in busy settings like public transportation.

Skip the commute and let us help you find your next remote position

Finding the right means to be productive during your commute time can be a struggle, and it can be frustrating to feel as though you’re wasting valuable time. Luckily, today’s environment allows many workers to work remotely and skip the commute altogether.

It’s becoming more common to see businesses and companies engaging distributed teams made of both in-house workers and remote professionals—full-time and independent. As a result, remote work is more of a norm than ever before, and it’s not difficult.

By creating a profile as an independent professional on Upwork, you can browse through countless job opportunities that offer the option to work from anywhere that’s convenient for you. The best part is that Upwork is quick, easy, and free to sign up with. So, join today and let Upwork help you find your next remote role.

Upwork does not control, operate, or sponsor the tools or services discussed in this article, which are only provided as potential options. Each reader and company should take the time to adequately analyze and determine the tools or services that would best fit their specific needs and situation.


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12 Ways To Make Your Commute to Work More Productive
The Upwork Team

Upwork is the world’s work marketplace that connects businesses with independent talent from across the globe. We serve everyone from one-person startups to large, Fortune 100 enterprises with a powerful, trust-driven platform that enables companies and talent to work together in new ways that unlock their potential.

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