The average boring commute lasts 25 minutes each direction. Doesn’t sound bad, but it adds up fast. Commuters in New York spend up to six hours traveling back and forth from work every week. Surprised? It gets worse. Research says your commute has a direct impact on your happiness. Make a boring commute better in these eight easy steps.
1. Chill out.
Most people are in a constant state of stress.
Sound familiar? Make your commute a meditation.
You don’t have to close your eyes and chant “om.” That would be dangerous in a high speed vehicle! Simply focus on your breath (slow inhales + deep exhales = calm and relaxation)
2. Be thankful.
Most people focus on the negative (for good reason). In prehistoric times, the negativity bias helped our ancestors get away from scary animals with sharp teeth. Aren’t you glad we don’t have to worry about that anymore?
Still, we’re stuck with the same stress response. That’s why you obsess with things like whether your partner loves you or not (even though it’s obvious they do). On the way to work, imagine all the stuff that makes you happy.
3. Plan your day.
What are the top three things you need to accomplish today (must-do!)? Think about them during your commute. Mentally rehearse the steps it will take to complete those tasks. You’ll be more efficient when you get to work.
4. Learn something new.
Podcasts are a great way to pass the time. There are podcasts about business, history, traveling, current events, financial advice, and just about anything you can imagine. Or buy an audio course that teaches you a new language.
5. Get lost in a good story.
Not into self-help? That’s okay. You can listen to fiction, too. Surely there’s a book you want to read, but haven’t got around to yet. Buy the audio version. Now your commute will be more entertaining!
6. Reflect about your day.
If you made a mistake, think about what you could have done better. If you achieved a goal, think about what you did right (and how you can do more of that). At home, write down the top three things you learned today.
7. Tickle your funny bone.
Laughing promotes relaxation, boosts immunity, and releases endorphins (“feel good” chemicals). I’m not kidding. There are audio versions of stand-up comedy specials. Want a recommendation? Aziz Ansari is my favorite.
8. Stay focused on the road.
Driving is your top priority. Don’t take your eyes off the road (that means your phone off and put it away!). The activities on this list shouldn’t be distracting, but a word of caution: please cue up audio files before you start driving. That will help you be mindful of your surroundings at all times.