We all have our ways of coping with the monotonous, potentially mind-numbing experience of traveling to work. Eventually, your morning cup of coffee, daily news, and weather report tends to get pretty old, and you may find yourself fantasizing about driving into a telephone pole if you don’t find creative ways to pass the time. The key to surviving your daily commute is to get your mind off of being in transit and to mix it up as much as possible.
1. Listen to the Music
Is the news and weather channel driving you mad? Try some music. Already listening to music? Try playing some new music, or different genres that you wouldn’t normally listen to. You might even put together a few playlists—or have a friend put some together for you, which is sometimes even better because you have no idea what is on them, making every song a surprise. That will keep it interesting, which is the goal when you have nothing but time to kill, possibly for hours, to and from work every day.
2. Mixed Media Alternatives
If music is not enough for you, there is a virtually inexhaustible supply of podcasts, books on tape, and even live broadcasts available for every taste and usually for free. Here are a few resources:
A spin-off from This American Life, Serial currently has one full season (12 episodes) available for free download on their website. The episodes, ranging from roughly 30 to 60 minutes in length, follow a format similar to the original series and will keep you entertained with remarkable, original stories.
Unless you have been living under a rock for the past 4 decades, then you’ve probably heard about and most likely already favor the widely-ranged media of NPR. On their website, you will find frequently updated podcasts and unique segments covering everything from world affairs to film & the arts. Much of this is also available for free download.
Under their genre titled, “Word”, Spotify has 76 different categories of audiobooks, poetry, literature, comedy, and a lot more. When you sign up for a Spotify Premium account (not too steep and well worth the monthly fee of $10 per month), you can save audio to your computer for listening offline—not a bad deal considering its massive archive of media.
3. There’s No Shame in Talking to Yourself
You can make good use of a voice recorder on your commute by working through, out loud, your schedule, plans, and why not—take some time to hash out your aspirations for the future. You can keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel, and flesh out all of your good and bad ideas, at the same time.
4. Leave the Car, Take the Train
This may not be an option if you live in a less-populated area, but living in or near a city affords you some alternate transit options. We all love our cars, and it can even feel like a second home when you have a long trip to work every day. If you can bring yourself to part with it, though, you might really enjoy jumping on the train or bus every once in awhile. Driving takes a good deal of concentration, not to mention being forced to endure the stress of sitting in traffic for an extended period of time. Do yourself a favor and let someone else watch the road. Public transit could be just the relief you need, where you can relax and focus on a good book or a newspaper, instead of gluing your eyes to the road.
5. Don’t Fly Solo!
This is probably one of the most effective alternatives to the solitary commute behind the wheel of your own vehicle, and more than that—it’s eco-friendly. During a time when most of us suffer boredom, exasperation, and anxiety, the institution of carpooling is a refreshing opportunity to enjoy the company and conversation of at least one other person as you prepare for the day ahead.
Maybe your commute is your favorite time of the day, which is true for some people, but if it is a difficult time or one that bores you to tears, then hopefully these suggestions will help to make it a tolerable and even enjoyable experience. Remember to mix it up and avoid getting stuck in a humdrum routine, and you may actually find yourself in a great mood when you get to work.