Have you recently started a new job that requires you to spend a little more time in the car everyday than you are used to? I feel your pain. I spend 3 hours a day in my car traveling to and from work. That equals 15 hours a week on the open road. That is quite a lot of time when you think about it. If I drove 15 hours straight I could get to Colorado from where I live. It all started a few months ago when I made a very big decision to change jobs. An opportunity arose that I could not pass up professionally or personally. But it came with a catch. The office was an hour and a half away from where I live. This was a pretty big catch considering my old job was only 5 minutes away from my house. I mean I would walk to work on nice days. Despite this pretty big catch, I accepted the new position and it has truly been one of the best career moves I have made to date. Before I started making the trek, I wondered how I was going to survive all of that time in the car without going crazy with boredom. Now, for people in Los Angeles or Atlanta, this long of a commute may be normal, but this was going to be new territory for me. But I am now 5 months in and I tell people all of the time who ask me that same question that it really is not that bad. So here are 7 ways I survive my 3 hour daily commute.
1. Sirius XM Radio
When I accepted the new position, my husband and I knew my 2005 royal blue Mazda 6 was not going to last long. I loved that car. I miss that car. We decided to buy a more reliable vehicle that could handle all of that travel time and bad weather our state usually gets. I now drive a 2015 Mazda CX-5, which already has 17,000 miles on it. But the point is it came with a free trial of Sirius XM Radio. I used to think this was a ridiculous concept because I could listen to the radio for free. Let me just say that my free trial has since ended and they have my credit card number. You do the math. With Sirius XM Radio you can listen to any genre of music, but you can also listen to the news or stand-up comedy. For a while there I was very up-to-date with current events. So if you have a means to get Sirius XM Radio in your car, I highly suggest you do so pronto.
This seems like an obvious answer for long commutes, and it is. The problem is it can get pretty expensive really quickly. I signed up for an Audible subscription, but I was going through 1000 page books in a week and a half. At the rate I was going I was on track to spend $45 or $60 a month in audiobooks. Then a genius friend of mine suggested I go to the library and check out audiobooks from there. The keyword here is "Genius". The library is free (except for when I return my books late...), I can check out several audiobooks at a time, and I did not know how much I was going to love going to the library and just wonder around. The library is much different than what I remember from childhood, in an awesome way. Maybe I am just getting older, but quiet time surrounded by endless book possibilities is just my kind of a Saturday morning.
Before I started commuting I had heard of Podcasts, but I had no idea what they were. I cannot even tell you what I thought they were. To fill you in, a Podcast is basically a form of talk radio, but it is so much better than talk radio. You can search for various topics such as business, relationships, etc... And listen to people talk about those topics. That is a boring and simple explanation, but that is basic idea. Anyhow, a fellow road warrior suggested I download some Podcasts to help pass the time in the car. Another genius idea. My first experience with a Podcast was listening to Serial. I recommend you start here as well. You will not be disappointed. Then you will be hooked on searching for awesome Podcasts. Oh, and did I mention Podcasts are free? As long as you have a smartphone and a way to connect that smartphone to you car (i.e. Bluetooth) you are in business.
4. Learn Something
About a month or so into all of the travel time, I decided I was going to use one day a week to learn something new. I didn't care what it was, but I was going to learn. That has turned into learning everyday. I have learned about business, money, history, hobbies. And I have done all of these things by listening to Podcasts, audiobooks, and Sirius XM Radio. It is never too late to learn something new, and you never know what you will discover about yourself when decide to learn new things. (If that had rhymed, it could have come straight from Dr. Seuss.)
5. Catch Up with Friends and Family
Before I started this 3 hour daily journey, I really did not make the time to catch up with my friends I hadn't talked to in a few months, or call my grandparents and ask them how they are doing. Even if the phone call only lasts 15 minutes, it feels good to reach out to the important people in my life. I also use that time to return work phone calls and schedule appointments. This helps a lot since some days I do not have time to make those phone calls.
Note: I only use my handsfree phone system in my car when I talk on the phone and I do not text and drive. Be safe on the road!
6. Practice that Upcoming Presentation
I am not giving presentations all of the time, but every now and then I do have to get up in front of people and talk on various topics. The car has become a great place for me to practice. I don't have to worry about being interrupted at home, I can talk out loud and even record myself on my iPhone if I need hear myself or take notes. And no one passing you is going to think anything of it. For all they know you are talking on your handsfree phone.
There are some days when my job can be very stressful and busy. When I lived 5 minutes from work, I would bring that stress home with me. Sometimes I would even take it out on my husband, which is never good. But now I use that time to decompress and let that work stress go. By the time I get home, I am cooled off from whatever frustrations I have from work, and I am just happy to get home and spend time with my family. Even if my day was great at work, this commute has become my time. I am by myself, I can think, and although I am driving, the car has become my space for me time. Who doesn't need a little me time everyday?
So there you have it. My 7 ways for surviving a long commute. You may be thinking that your long commute will be the death of you, but stay positive. I have learned so much in the last 5 months from Podcasts and audiobooks, and I have reconnected with some of my old friends. There is a bright side to every situation and I hope my 7 tips have helped you find your bright side!
Until next time, happy commuting!