10 clever ways to hack your commute

Have you ever thought about how much time your commute is costing? Even if it takes you just half an hour to get to work each day, after three years, you’ll have spent more than 25 entire days sitting in traffic!

But, that time doesn’t need to be wasted. Instead of listening to stupid ads and the same songs over and over, try these 10 clever hacks to make your commute more productive and less stressful.

1. Listen and learn

You’ll be amazed at the fascinating knowledge you can acquire by listening to interesting and educational podcasts. Most podcasts are about 30-45 minutes long, making them ideal for commuting. They’re also available for free on your smartphone. If you don’t want to use up your data listening to them, simply download them beforehand when you’ve got access to WiFi.

2. Take traffic evasion measures

When the freeway is gridlocked, it’s possible that a lesser-known back route will get you there faster. Even if an alternative route doesn’t save all that much time, it can be nice to get a change of scenery. Check Google maps for the current traffic situation on your route just before you leave, and see if it suggests a better alternative. You can also try leaving 30 minutes earlier or later.

3. Plan your day

Lots of productive people use their commute as a time to organize their thoughts for the day. While you’re stuck behind the wheel, dictate voice notes to review later, or use your phone’s voice-to-text function to make your to-do list. Use a bluetooth device so you don't have to take your eyes off the road.

4. Don’t watch the clock

If you’re late, worrying about what time it is won’t get you there any faster. What it will do is stress you out, put you in a bad mood, and make you less productive. It may even cause you to drive dangerously. Focus on the most important things: arriving safely and smiling.

5. Talk to people

We seem to do most of our communicating today by Whatsapp, email, and Facebook. Actually talking to someone has become something special. On your morning commute, get a head start by making productive work calls to colleagues, clients or networking contacts. On your way home, think of a friend or family member you’d like to catch up with and give them a ring. Again, be sure to use a bluetooth device.

6. Get Zen

If the thought of everything you have to accomplish during the day makes it hard to breathe, use your commute to practise mindfulness. Mindfulness meditation is simply about bringing your attention into the present moment. It can be done anywhere at any time, and you don’t have to close your eyes. There are lots of great apps to help you with easy guided meditations. Two excellent ones are Headspace and Buddhify.

7. Tone up

Turn your time in the car into a no-sweat tone-up session. Isometric exercises work muscles in a stationary seated position, making them perfect for commuting. Use them to tone up your stomach, abs, buttocks and pelvis. Exercise each muscle group individually by contracting and holding for at least 10 seconds. Rest for a couple of seconds and repeat 10 times each.

8. Learn a language

Ever wanted to travel somewhere exciting, but don’t speak the language? There are lots of foreign language audio classes available, and your daily commute is the perfect time for them. As you’re practicing, dream of the holiday you’ll take with your new skill. That’s a thought that’ll keep you relaxed through rush hour.

9. Practice good posture

We spend so much time sitting in traffic and sitting at our desks that it can take a terrible toll on our backs. To reduce strain on your spine, it’s crucial to develop good posture. In the car, adjust your seat back so it’s fairly upright and set your steering wheel at the right height and distance. While driving, draw your stomach up and in, and lift up through the crown of your head. Hold this position for 20 seconds, then relax and repeat.

10. Listen to classical music

Instead of tuning in to talk radio, or cranking up the volume on a hard rock CD, consider cueing a calming playlist of classical music on your next commute. Studies have shown that relaxing music helps to lower anxiety, while a survey done across 2,000 drivers suggested that those who listened to classical music were less prone to road rage. What’s more, thanks to the so-called ‘Mozart Effect’, classical music can even improve your spatial intelligence - which can only be a good thing when you’re driving.

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