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8 Ways to Improve Your Productivity by Using Your Commute More Effectively

Updated on July 15, 2012
Waiting, waiting, and more waiting.
Waiting, waiting, and more waiting. | Source

Time Management Ninja has an article entitled 5 Ways to Time Manage your Commute where they offer the suggestions:

· Make use of it.

· Time Shift to Save Time

· Skip the Commute Sometimes

· Alternate Mode of Transportation

· Get a new commute

As a person who would commute between one and three hours one-way each day in the past, I have tried four of the five. While time shifting is often effective, and skipping the commute is an option for some times but not always, the main thing I have focused on was how I could make use of my commute to be more effective.

With a little planning it is easy to make even a three hour commute go quickly and be productive.

Below are eight suggestions on how to use your time more effectively during your commute:

Disclaimer: Always use hands free and pay attention to the road conditions. Many of the suggestions only work if you are carpooling or sitting in stopped traffic (as I do crossing from Mexico to the US). Use common sense, be safe, and do not text or read and drive!

1. If you work with people in multiple time zones, commute time may be ideal for follow-up calls. I live in the Central Time Zone so I use my morning commute to follow-up with co-workers on the east coast and I use my evening commute to follow-up with co-workers on in the Mountain and Pacific Time zones.

2. Listening to books on tape or MP3s is a great way to stay up to date on the latest books when you have a lot of windshield time. I have tried to take it a step further and tested a product called Text2Go that allowed me to convert volumes of written documents for work into MP3 files so I could listen to long e-mails and proposals on my commute. Both are effective uses of time but I certainly find that it is more effective to catch up on work that needs to be done anyway.

3. Print material for the commute that you can read and edit along the way. This is especially effective if you are carpooling or know you will be stopped for a larger portion of the commute.

4. Purchase an e-reader (affiliate link to Kindle on Amazon) and load it up with books and personal documents or use your smartphone of choice with the free Kindle application. Kindle is just one example of these types of devices but I am of the opinion they are all well worth the investment for a road warrior.

5. "Reach our an touch someone" was a tagline used but AT&T during the 1980's but the idea remains very alive today—the commute time could be a great time to call friends and family and reconnect. Sometimes reinforces your personal relationships will be more effective than getting work done.

6. Consider personal errands that may be portable, like offline bill paying, getting insurance quotes or even negotiating the purchase of a car! I actually lined up test drives, preapproved financing, and effectively completed most of the purchase paperwork via telephone when I was in the market for a car. Compared to an in person purchase a couple years later it took less than half the time to complete the purchase because I was able to have the dealer do all the leg work and haggling over the phone before I would even step foot in their store. I consider this type of use of my time doubly effective!

7. If your commute will often be done on a mass transit or carpooling consider purchasing a data plan that allows you to tether your phone (my personal preference) or a data card to allow you to get online during the commute time. Having easy access to online resources may actually allow you to work shift your way into making your commute as effective as your time in the office.

8. If you are carpooling, consider doing so with workmates that you are frequently working on projects with. You can use the time to do opening or closing meetings am make each of your time more effective.

With a little ingenuity and understanding of the tasks you need to complete, you can turn your commute from a time sink into productive time.


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