Five Ways To Improve Your Career On The Commute (Without Your Cell Phone)

For many people, the morning and evening commute is time spent stuck in traffic, listening to the radio, or calling their sister-in-law on the cell phone. The truth is that the commute is a great time to actually improve your career. How? Here are five things you can do on the way to or from work to help your career, even if you’re stuck in traffic. It can help you get a leg up on the competition or free up some time at home to spend with your family.

Listen to an audiobook. Find an audiobook connected to your career at the local library and listen to it on the way to and from work. Even if you don’t have books that can directly help your career, you can listen to an audiobook that teaches another language or one that teaches general productivity skills (like Getting Things Done).

Use a voice recorder to record thoughts. When I was heavily involved in managing projects, I used to use a voice recorder during the commute to record ideas and plans for the coming days. Quite often, my brightest ideas would occur to me during the commute, and an easy-to-use voice recorder made it possible for me to immediately record them.

Practice your language skills. This includes learning a foreign language from an audiobook, but this really applies to learning how to simply speak better. Practice giving speeches by copying what you hear from speeches on NPR, or get a tape of great speeches and practice repeating those lines. Practicing your verbal deliveries can help you no matter what your job is like.

Plan a very clear checklist of specific things to do when you get to work / get home. I’ve found, time and time again, that if I have a list of small and very discrete tasks that I can finish in a short timeframe (say an hour or an hour and a half), I feel really productive and ready to tackle anything that faces me.

Eat something healthy. This is especially true for the morning commute. Eat a banana or an orange or a homemade breakfast burrito. This energy booster can really make a big difference in your energy level throughout the day and can turn an ordinary day into a great one.

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