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7 Ways to Make Commuting Suck Less

7 Ways to Make Commuting Suck Less

Commutting

    Commuting between work and home can be a frustrating and inefficient experience. But it does not have to be. There are many productive (and safe!) ways to make the most of your time while you’re behind the wheel. For example:

    Learn a new language

    Burn some CDs with language lessons (you can easily find them on the Internet, even for free!) and listen to them again and again. Repeat the phrases out loud. Burn some more when you feel the level has become too easy for you. You will be amazed at how quick you progress in a week of commuting.

    After doing this for several months, I filled out an online Italian language test and found out I already had an intermediary level… Without taking any formal lessons!

    Listen to podcasts

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    Subscribe to podcasts dealing with the subjects that interest you and listen while driving. This is a surefire way to always be up to date. Another hint: If you podcasts are spoken in the language you are trying to learn, you will advance much faster!

    “Read” books

    Reading while driving is surely lethal. But try audio books. If the book is interesting, chances are you won’t be bothered by traffic jams, you will even beg for some!

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    One example: I never could finish reading Don Quixote. Its old-fashioned Spanish made me fell asleep after a couple of pages. I felt so guilty. After all, that is THE book every Spanish speaker should have read! Then I tried the audio book. Not only was it easy to follow, it was even compelling! I listened to it during a round trip between Brussels and Paris I did one summer. The blue sky and the wheat fields made me feel it was ME who was riding thru La Mancha!

    “Take” courses

    Going to Harvard or Stanford may be expensive, but listening to their professors lecture while you drive is…free! Nowadays, most universities offer a number of free courses, from sciences to liberal arts. I have particularly appreciated a course about European history I downloaded from the Stanford website. And another funny coincidence: I was driving by Waterloo when the teacher spoke about Napoleon’s defeat!

    Listen to news

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    This is an obvious one, but worth mentioning. If you listen to the news 10 minutes a day while driving, you won’t need to browse the news websites while at home or work.

    Listen to music

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    This is another obvious one. But I include it after I heard –  in an Italian podcast, of course – about a study conducted by researchers from the University of Florence that found that listening to classical and other soft music for 30 minutes a day during one month can significantly reduce mild high blood pressure. Very convenient for those suffering from work or traffic-jam-related stress!

    Be Zen

    Ok. You are too upset/tired/worried to listen to anything. Then just be Zen. Don’t worry, you don’t have to do the lotus position or close your eyes. That is not very wise on a highway. Just breathe in and out slowly. Don’t think about anything, just see around you. Feel the vibration of your car. Forget yesterday and tomorrow. Just live in the moment, even if the moment isn’t very exciting.

    I commute by car, but all these suggestions can be practiced on the train or on the metro. If someone else is controlling the driving, you can use your iPod, your laptop, or your tablet PC so you can add a visual component to any of the ideas above.

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    Last Updated on December 2, 2018

    How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

    How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

    Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

    The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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    The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

    Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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    Review Your Past Flow

    Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

    Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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    Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

    Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

    Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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    Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

    Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

    We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

    Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

      Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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