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Build Your Career Work-Life Balance

Rush Hour Got You Down? How to Make the Most of Your Commute

Rush Hour Got You Down? How to Make the Most of Your Commute
Credit: XiXinXing/Shutterstock

Commuting to work is often a hassle. With rush-hour traffic, delayed trains or long walks to the office, it's no surprise that many workers are already exhausted before starting their shift.

Although traveling to your workplace is an inevitable part of a typical workday routine, you don't have to spend your morning cursing out the window or panicking over unforeseen complications. Here's how to make the most of your commute, no matter how long you spend on it.

While you might want to dive into your work assignments as soon as your coffee kicks in, dedicate your commute to other pastimes, like reading or listening to TED Talks.

"Whether you're stuck in traffic on the highway or on an hourlong train commute, there are a variety of ways to advance your development," said Adrian Ridner, CEO and co-founder of Study.com. "If you take public transportation to work, learning is at your fingertips on your smartphone. Watch short videos online or read e-books to master concepts related to your job or to learn a new skill altogether."

Ridner suggested signing up for an online class that interests you or learning a new language. This will give you a sense of purpose that's distinct from your career, allowing you to establish a health work-life balance.

For those who drive to work, however, Ridner recommended listening to podcasts and audiobooks instead of listening to the same radio station.

"Try exploring a new interest, learning some workplace or management skills, or choosing a few topics related to your career," Ridner told Business News Daily.

Thinking about writing a novel or starting up a side business, but never feel like you have time to do it? Your commute to and from the office is the perfect time to start mentally planning this project.

While you can't scribble notes or sketch a business plan while driving, you can run some ideas through your mind and find ways to spark inspiration. Consider your interests and hobbies, and choose one that you can channel as a side project.

Even though you're commuting to work, it shouldn't be the only thing on your mind. There is more to life than your occupation – explore other opportunities.

When you're commuting, you're not in control of outside risks like traffic, transportation malfunctions, weather and other factors that might make you late for work. You might find yourself quick to react to the slightest inconvenience, but rather than dwelling on the negatives, take deep breaths and remind yourself not to stress over matters you can't change. Screaming at other drivers or stressing over a full bus will not get you there any quicker.

Instead, use this time to practice virtues and develop skills.

"Besides the obvious lesson of patience, time management is a skill you can learn from commuting that can be directly applied to your career," said Ridner. "Delays and other similar issues can also teach you a lot about resourcefulness and problem-solving."

Commuting can be a stressful activity, but don't let it get you down. Instead, use your drive, ride or walk to enhance your personal development and find a better work-life balance.

Sammi Caramela

Sammi Caramela is a recent graduate of Rowan University, where she majored in writing arts and minored in journalism. She currently works as a Purch B2B staff writer while working on her first novel in her free time. Reach her by email, or check out her blog at sammisays.org.