But if you drive yourself (and only yourself) back and forth to work every day, you likely spend a lot of time listening to yourself, staring blankly through the windshield, and at best enjoying musicians or professional talkers entertain you from the radio.
But with a little foresight and preparation, there are at least a few things you could do during that commute time to make it more productive. Here are five:
1. Have a call list ready
Which calls you do you need to return? Who haven’t you caught up with in a long time? Consider the time zone of whomever you’re calling, and use a hands-free device where required. But the list of people you could call is extensive. A colleague with feedback on a project or a new idea. A friend who just got a promotion. Someone in your network you haven’t connected with in far too long (this could be a daily list).
Have a few emails that need returned? Make a call instead. I bet you have a far more productive, valuable conversation and exchange than what would have been delivered with a short email when you finally arrive at your destination.
2. Call your mother
Or your father. Or your sister. Or your kids. Being productive isn’t all about business. Our lives get so crazy, it’s easy to get sucked into work and neglect (or push to another time) the people who matter most to us. I promise they won’t be upset because you always seem to be calling from your car. The fact that you’re calling more often trumps that.
3. Brainstorm something
At any given time, you have plenty of things to think about. I’m not talking about emails to return or documents to review or presentations to write. I’m talking about things that simply need more of your active thinking. A new campaign direction. A new feature. The contents of a blog post like this one. Taking the next step really means dedicating time to thinking through the options and getting a few down on paper to clarity and operationalize the next step.
The next time you get in the car, take with you a few of these ideas or concepts to brainstorm. I often keep these items in a specific category of my Tasks list, and print them out when I know I’ll have some time (while watching a ball game at home, for example). But if you do the same thing in the car, you can use a voice recorder (on your smart phone, or even a separate digital recorder) to capture your ideas and transcribe them later.
4. Find some good podcasts
There are still a ton of great podcasts being produced on a regular basis, on every topic imaginable. Think of them like “listening to blog posts”, especially if you prioritize topics you’d otherwise want to read in a blog or newsletter or trade magazine.
I’d encourage you to listen with that same voice recorder handy, as the podcast content will occasionally give you ideas you want to follow up on.
5. Capture your random ideas
I’ve written many times about my love for Dail2Do and similar tools that make it easy to capture ideas when pen and paper are either less convenient or dangerous. Sometimes, the best way to be more productive during your commute is to literally think about nothing.
Let your brain go where it wants to go, and be ready to capture some of your best insights, ideas and tasks for later.
Curious to hear what else you do while driving to make better use of the time.