How to Make Your Long Commute Productive: Take The Miracle Morning on the Road!
October 21, 2018
My Painful Commute SAVERS that Make a World of Difference
On a good day, my commute into work takes about an hour and fifteen minutes. On a bad day, well, for this working mama my commute takes a little piece of my soul.
As with anything unpleasant though, you can either wallow in it or learn from it. In my years of managing a long commute I’ve definitely had those days of wallowing. And I can’t say I’ve completely turned the corner, but I’m trying to make it more productive wallowing at least using some self-help techniques.
One productivity and personal development framework I learned from Hal Elrod’s book The Miracle Morning is SAVERS. Silence, Affirmations, Visualization, Exercise, Reading and Scribing. Based on the six habits of highly successful people, the idea is to implement all six elements into your morning to kick start your day with productivity and positivity. I’ve taken Hal’s method on the road and while it might seem impossible to do all six of those things on your commute, I assure you it’s totally doable. Let’s break each one down to make your long commute productive and less painful shall we?
Think about your day. How much of it is spent in absolute silence? Not including sleeping.
If you’ve found your way to my blog and then this post I’m going to take a guess that you are a mom who works outside the home trying to figure out how in the heck to manage a long commute when you have 15 trillion things to do each day. As a working mom you might be woken up WAY pre-dawn by a small child three inches from your face requesting water. Your day then goes into hyper drive as you get kids ready for the day, attempt to clean and clothe yourself, get yourself to work, put out fires all day at the office, talk to teachers and other parents at daycare or school pick up, answer rapid fire questions from your kids on the drive home, talk over dinner with your family, begin the bedtime negotiations, and eventually sink into your couch sometime past 8pm and try to carve out a little conversing time with your spouse before you pass out. That conversation is often about dentist appointments. Your day is filled with words, and very little silence.
If this seems specific it’s because it is my life. I knew the benefits of meditation for mental health, but that wasn’t making it onto my non mobile priority list. But last year I read Kallie Branciforte’s blog post about boosting your creativity by adding 20 minutes of silence to your day and I changed my tune. More specifically I turned off the tunes. Kallie found her quiet time on her commute so I tried to do the same. It’s refreshing to just be with your own thoughts, or lack thereof, for a period of time. While this may seem boring, keep in mind that bordom isn’t a bad thing. It actually forces you to think for yourself thereby sparking your creativity and problem solving abilities. If you are trying to make your long commute productive, try doing absolutely nothing for part of it. It really works.
If you aren’t on the self-help train then I get that spending time affirming your own greatness seems totally wacky. But it’s one of those personal development strategies that you just can’t completely rule out because there is science behind it. With affirmations you’re basically proving to yourself that you’re in charge of improving your own self confidence, and once you improve your self confidence so many more doors open to you. Positive talk is even good for plants, so imagine what some self directed kindness can do for your own growth.
I use a few affirmations on my commute that I’m for sure not sharing here, because boundaries. But there is one affirmation that I have on speed dial that’ll open up about. When I’m working through my long commute and trying to make the most of my time, a lot of ideas are running through my head. So when that happens I pull out this line that is actually part affirmation part mantra.
Do it with humor and heart, or don’t do it at all.
If an idea for a blog post, project, or business venture pops into my head and it doesn’t involve both humor and heart then it’s off the table. Right away. It’s an affirmation that reminds me of what is important to me and where my strengths lie. So if you don’t want to go with “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me” try something that is just a reminder of what you’re good at and what’s important to you. Added benefit of doing this in the car? You don’t need to look at yourself while you’re affirming if your’re squeamish. I tried affirming in a mirror once at home and it was SUPER uncomfortable.
Do you remember the dumpster fire day? In that post I talked about setting intentions for your day and how sometimes that works out and sometimes it’s a hot mess. But I still find it to be a worthwhile endeavor. And if you’re stuck in your car for an hour plus, what’s the harm in trying a little visualization to boost your productivity?
I spend a small part of my commute visualizing what a successful day at work or a great night at home will look like. What needs to get done, how am I going to do it, how will it feel if things go that way? If this sounds hokey then start with something really straightforward like walking through a presentation you have to give that day. You’ve already built out the slides, reviewed your notes, and memorized your key talking points but going through it again in your head helps to solidify how you will deliver certain points and how you want to present physically. Then you’re building up some muscle memory, even if it’s just in your brain.
By the way, you’re totally going to crush that presentation today. You’re like wicked smaht. Good luck. 🙂
Alright, fine. I have not come up with a way to exercise while driving. I really wish I had because that would be amazing. But I do try to exercise my mind on the long commute, because I’m a big old dork. It’s fine, I embrace it.
One way I keep the old noggin sharp is by listening to podcasts. I’ve shared my favorite storytelling podcasts, but I also have a bunch of business and personal development podcasts that keep me informed, teach me about trends in the online business world, and give me ideas for new topics to write about for either my day job or my blog. In fact Hal Elrod’s interview was on the podcast Do It Scared and that helped me put some more structure around my commute, and then write this post. Productive morning!
I also will sometimes use my silent time for some word association exercises. I’ve picked this up from how my kids’ brains work. “We are going to Sophie’s birthday party this weekend right? When is my birthday? When is Santa’s birthday? What kind of cake does Santa like? Why does Santa come at night? How do reindeer see in the dark?” Woh, that escalated quickly! But if you keep your mind open to possibilities like a kid your adult brain can work like that too. Doing a rapid fire word association that went like this “work, first job, friends at first job, friends from college, college, college job, college boss” led to the Baby, you’re a cruise ship blog post. Making moves!
Next to silence, the reading part of the SAVERS framework is actually the easiest part. Audible to the rescue! My birthday present this year was a subscription to Audible and it’s been a game changer for making my long commute productive.
Not convinced that audiobooks are for you? I wasn’t either. But there are only so many hours in the day. When three of those hours are spent in the car, then audiobooks are a clear winner. I read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, You Are a Badass, and Girl Wash Your Face using the monthly credits from Audible. Michelle Obama’s book Becoming is next in the queue when it’s released on November 13.
Reading does something good for my soul, not to mention my productivity. As I’ve dipped my toe into the self-help genre I have found so many great tips for finding more time to do what I love. If reading is on your to-do list along with making your long commute productive, Audible it up, baby.
Writing in the car doesn’t seem safe at all, because it’s not. No one should be typing or writing while driving. Least of all me because I’m a passable driver at best. While I was never winning driving awards before, I was in a pretty brutal car accident several years ago and now I’m even more of a nervous Nelly. So I find that hands at ten and two is really my best look. If I can’t control the other drivers around me, I’ll be darned if I don’t control myself.
All PSAs aside, I do manage to write in the car sometimes. Using the VoiceText app I can talk out loud to myself as I drive and the voice memo converts it into text. Honestly I’d like to find a better app for this, so if you have suggestions please let me know, but a good number of my words make it correctly onto the screen. Even if it’s just talking out loud notes instead of a full blog post or book chapter, I feel like I’m being productive with my commute and getting some writing done on the go.
If you’re not a writer, you still have things to write I’m quite sure. Use a voice to text app to record your to-dos or brilliant ideas for work. You just turned your long commute into a mobile office; how’s that for productivity?
Did you skip to the bottom to see how long this post was? Fair enough, it’s a meaty one. Key takeaways – make your long commute productive by using the SAVERS framework – Silence, Affirmations, Visualizations, Exercise, Reading, and Scribing. Some simple changes can really make those hours in the car way less painful. Want to read this whole post while you’re commuting? Try Speechify. It’s an app that turns any article into an audio file. Download it, then come back to this post. Productivity city.
With best wishes for light traffic, respectful drivers, and a full gas tank on your commute tomorrow,
P.S. Want more on career development and doing what makes you happy? Check out this post and sign up for the 100 Jobs Exercise!