Like it or not, commuting is a fact of life. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there are nearly 290 million registered vehicles in the United States. That’s a lot of annoyed, caffeinated drivers. But the daily trek to the office doesn’t have to get the better of you. Try these simple tricks to ease your nerves en route and find inner peace behind the wheel.
A little advance preparation can make your morning routine a lot less hectic. Make the kids’ lunches the night before, and while you’re at it, take out the garbage, figure out what you’re going to wear to work (iron that shirt if need be) and set the timer on the coffeemaker to greet you with a fresh cuppa java on your way out the door. You’ll be surprised how much calmer you’ll feel with a few items crossed off your morning to-do list.
When you get cut off for what feels like the 40th time, throw on some Chopin. In addition to lowering your blood pressure and anxiety levels, listening to classical music also makes you smarter. (It’s called the Mozart effect.) That means classical music puts you in prime condition to own the workday, when you eventually make it through the traffic jam you’re sitting in, that is.
Sure, there’s AM radio, but you can never find a live traffic report when you need it most. Instead, download the Waze app to your smartphone. It’ll keep you posted on traffic speeds, snarls and weather conditions, and alert you if anything changes while you’re on the road.
Use the time in your car for a little self-improvement. Audiobooks are a great way to while away the hours stuck in the slow lane. Feeling embarrassed because you’ve never read The Great Gatsby and can’t complain about how the movie isn’t as good as the book? Here’s your chance to get caught up. Planning a trip to France? Use your commute to learn a new language. There’s an app for that; actually, there are dozens.
It may sound like a pipe dream, but flexible work hours and the opportunity to avoid rush-hour traffic may be possible, depending on your employer. Take the plunge and ask your boss to accommodate a schedule that’s more conducive to your productivity and your mental health. You may be surprised by their answer.
Most states have made it illegal to text while driving, and for good reason. According to the National Safety Council, 1.6 million vehicle-related accidents result from cell-phone use, 200,000 of which are caused by texting and driving. Program your phone or download an app to read text messages and emails aloud, so you can focus on the road. Better yet, hold the emails and texts until you get to the office; they’ll still be there when you settle down at your desk. Turn on “Do Not Disturb While Driving Mode” if your phone has that feature.
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