11 Hacks to Make Your Morning Commute More Productive

Don't just sit there. Here's how to make the most of your time traveling to work.
November 16, 2015

Planes, trains and automobiles. No matter your choice of transportation, nobody likes commuting (and probably not even if that plane is a private jet). Actually, people hate it. The list of “why’s” is infinity long—red lights, traffic, lines, waiting, wasted time.

But wait, commuters! What if that time you spent sitting in the car, on the subway, on whatever, wasn’t wasted? What if, call us crazy, you did something more than zoning out to the same songs, over and over and over? (Because, let’s be honest, they’re so overplaying “Hello” already.)

So don’t just sit there. Make your otherwise unproductive commute productive instead.

We asked the Young Entrepreneur Council, “What are some ways to maximize the time you spend commuting?” for ideas, for both riders and drivers:

1. Listen to podcasts at 1.5X speed.

I use my commute to expand my knowledge base. The most effective tool for me are podcasts; Tim Ferriss, a16z and Planet Money are favorites. I listen to everything through the lens of my business, and it inspires me to think bigger. And listening at 1.5X speed allows you to learn more in less time!

—Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches

2. Knock out simple email replies.

A lot of your emails require a simple reply. If you're taking public transportation, like the subway, knock these out of the way on your commute. This can save you a solid 30-45 minutes a day, and over the course of a week, it's a big chunk of time to allocate towards more productive tasks once you’re in the office.

—Jonathan Long, Market Domination Media

3. Read industry articles.

Pocket is a great app that allows you to follow industry-specific news and articles. If you're driving, the "Text to Speech (TTS)" feature allows you to listen to articles just like podcasts. This allows you to have a productive commute to work.

—Syed Balkhi, OptinMonster

4. Reach out to networking contacts.

We all have made important contacts while networking. However, it is not always easy to find the time to reach out and keep a strong relationship with them. Use the time you have while commuting to send them a quick email, call, text or LinkedIn message to keep the connection alive.

—Miles Jennings, Recruiter.com

5. Read relevant business books.

A public transportation commute is a great way to catch up on those business books you have been meaning to read. Pick a topic that is particularly relevant to your work (e.g. a book on conflict resolution if you've had a recent heated discussion with a colleague). Then write down a key lesson you want to implement once you get to the office.

—Charlie Graham, Shop It To Me, Inc.

6. Find a commute buddy.

Find someone you respect with the same commute. It could be on the train, the bus, etc. Strike a conversation about current industry issues, your organizations and your jobs. Pretty soon you'll be killing two birds with one stone: getting to and from work and having useful mentoring/networking meetings at the same time.

—Alexandra Levit, Inspiration at Work

7. Practice for your next speech.

Do you have a presentation or something you really want to nail down? Record yourself the night before and listen to it on your commute. It's great practice in an otherwise unproductive environment.  

—Mike Ambassador Bruny, No More Reasonable Doubt

8. Read fiction.

Narratives are important in business and being able to tell an effective story will serve you no matter what field you are in. For this reason, the English major (and literature nerd!) in me feels strongly that it's important to immerse yourself in well-written fiction that inspires new ideas, perspectives and storytelling techniques.

—Lindsay Tanne, LogicPrep

9. Write your first drafts.

If you are on a train, you can turn your Wi-Fi off and still get work done. Put your headphones on. Open up a Word document and start writing. This is the idea stage. It's very free-flowing. Any thoughts that come to mind should be jotted down before they are lost. What's most important is to keep the momentum going.

—Andrew Fayad, eLearning Mind

10. Check in with your team.

I've found that talking to your team back at the office and making time for them to ask important questions is a great use of your drive time. Also, follow-up calls with partners, clients and new prospects really help in making the most out of that commute.

—Michael Spinosa, Unleashed Technologies

11. Hold phone meetings.

I hold phone meetings in Ubers all the time. It's my preferred way to commute, hassle free and I don’t notice the traffic if I’m engaged in conversation and business planning. I’d trade a meeting for a subway ride any day.

—Zoe Barry, ZappRx

 

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

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