1. LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE
Learning a new language has many known and well researched benefits. Although learning French or Spanish or Mandarin may seem like a daunting task, it’s actually not as insurmountable as you think. Many people who try and fail to learn a new language simply don’t have the time required to learn a completely new dialect as an adult. Fortunately for you, you have a 45 minute commute to the office, which frees you up for some serious study time. Learning a new language not only makes you a better-rounded individual, it makes you a more hirable employee. Apps like Duolingo or Rosetta Stone (if you have the money) can be used relatively hands free and help you on your journey to become a true citizen of the world.
2. LISTEN TO A PODCAST
Podcasts are an extremely popular source of entertainment and information. An engaging story about a complex murder case or an in depth review of subjects many of us take for granted might be able to hold your attention better than listening to that Sisqo CD for the 500th time. The truth is, there is an almost endless number of well-made podcasts available to satisfy literally any interest or hobby. They are all essentially free and will have you wishing that your commute was just a little bit longer.
3. INVEST IN AUDIOBOOKS
Audiobooks are an excellent way to pass the time on a long commute. Apps like Audibleand OverDrive will give you access to a huge number of books for a completely reasonable monthly fee. Auidiobooks are often narrated by effective speakers who will engage the listener and read the book the way it is meant to be read. After trying and failing to read Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow (for those who have, I commend you) the audiobook made the author’s intentions clearer and, mercifully, coherent.Now instead of lying about reading A Tale of Two Cities at a party and fearing a follow-up question, you can say it with confidence!
4. LISTEN TO CLASSICAL MUSIC
I understand that classical music is not for everyone. Some rather be blasting the song of the summer to get pumped up for the long and stressful day that stands in front of them. But consider this, this study suggests that classical music actually enhances gene activity, which can increase dopamine secretion and ultimately lead to assist “synaptic function, learning and memory.” So before you roll down the windows and start getting down to some Beyonce, remember that Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3 in G major might make for a happier, sharper and more successful you.
5. REHEARSE FOR THE DAY
Many of us have jobs that require us to speak publicly. Whether it’s a presentation, a conference call, a job interview or a power lunch with your boss, we are often required to be the best and most articulate versions of ourselves. Why not use the time you are in your car to practice your big presentation? Memorize as much as you can the night before and see how well you can rehearse on your commute without the help of note cards or Powerpoint slides. You will find yourself well prepared and more comfortable with the material… Even if people in adjacent cars are giving you strange looks.
6. MEMORIZE A NEW SONG
This one might sound mundane but I think you will find it surprisingly rewarding. Choose a song that you like, but are not entirely familiar with. Listen and sing along as many times as you need until you have memorized every word and you can sing along from beginning to end. This might take you one car ride or it might take you several. But memorizing song lyrics is a fun way to sharpen your careful listening skills, and engage your short term memory early on in the day. Plus, you will be well prepared for you next company karaoke party.
7. ENJOY THE SILENCE
The world is a beautiful place. Sometimes there is no better way to start your day than to turn off the music and take in your surroundings. Driving in silence can have a meditative effect that will stay with you for the entire day. Don’t check your email, don’t listen to NPR… Just sit, drive, and relax.