Five Ways to Stay Sane During Your Long Commute

So you’ve got a long commute? I feel you. When I started at Eckel & Vaughan, my commute increased from 40 minutes to a solid hour. And that’s without traffic. Fortunately, this only lasted for six weeks. Once we sold our house on the outskirts of town, we moved closer to the city and cut the commute in half. Go us!

In the time I spent commuting at least two hours every day, I learned how to use that time for more than just screaming at people who can’t drive. Here are my tips for making the most of your long commute:

1 Open the Podcasts app. Use it.

I’d never felt a desire to listen to podcasts before I embarked on this commuting journey. Now, I even listen to some of these at the gym or on the weekends. Some of my favorites are:

  • Serial (NPR)
    For all the true crime enthusiasts, season 1 is especially intriguing! Follow along as an NPR reporter tries to get to the bottom of a murder where the evidence doesn’t add up.
  • Ted Talk Audio
    These lectures are from industry experts who are at the forefront of their respective fields. The lectures can be heavy for first thing in the morning, but they’ll leave you introspective and ready to try something new.
  • News in Slow Spanish
    I’m working on my Spanish, so I listen to this podcast to not only stay informed, but to force myself to hear the language. They have this series in other languages as well, and the podcasts are relatively short.
  • How I Built This (NPR)
    This podcast features entrepreneurs and lets them tell their story about how they became successful. So far, I’ve listened to the founders of Airbnb, Spanx, and Mark Cuban talk about getting started. It’s incredibly inspiring.
  • The Science of Social Media (Buffer)
    I’ll admit this one is a bit industry-specific, but if you work in social media, like I do, this is a great way to source new ideas!

2 Stay Informed.

  • NPR
    Your local public radio station works hard to bring you relevant news and a long commute is the best time to catch up on what’s going on not only in your community, but around the country and the world. I particularly enjoy listening to the BBC Radio Hour to hear news from around the world in “ace” British accents.
  • The Economist
    The reporters record an audio version of their publication every week. You can download the audio version before you leave the house and avoid using up your data. Bonus points for British accents and a world-focus on the news.

3 Drift, Dance, or Meditate.

  • Pandora / Spotify / iHeartRadio
    It’s always nice to customize the music you listen to, even if it’s not a playlist you can control. I love being able to play music based on my mood and avoid talk radio in the morning. Feeling stressed? Bust our your “calm” playlist. Want to dance? It’s all about the Top 40.
  • Audiobooks
    This is another one that can be hard to get into first thing in the morning, but if you’ve been dying to read a book and just can’t find the time, consider purchasing the audio version. I especially like this option for books written by notable people, because the audio version is usually read by them and then you can hear all the intended inflections in their voice. Sometimes, it’s even better than reading it. Audible and Amazon both offer good options for audiobooks.

4 Make Lists. Safely!

I’m the kind of person who always has five to-do lists floating around in my head. For some reason, I start running through these when I’m driving and don’t have the ability to write anything down. That’s where Siri (or the Android equivalent) comes in! I use Siri to make lists, notes, and to remind myself to do something at a particular time of day or once I get where I’m going.

5 Call Someone.

When all else fails, take this time to catch up with the people in your life who love you. Most of my family lives far away, and while my 7:00 AM commute is a little early for most calls, I do like to use my 5:30PM drive home to catch up with family and friends. I’m always amazed at how quickly time flies by when I’m deep in conversation with someone. This is by far my favorite way to pass the time in the car.

There you have it. The ways I’ve found to make the most of my long commute. Even though my commute has been cut in half, I’ll still be using my time in the car wisely thanks to what I learned over the last six weeks.

Good luck to you, and remember to drive safely!