What Successful People Do During Their Morning Commute
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But these trips don't have to feel like a maddening waste of time, even if your journey is epic. "I've got quite the commute—three hours!" says James B. Bunn, chief marketing officer at Brahmin, a handbags and accessories company. Bunn drives from his New York home to Brahmin's Massachusetts headquarters every few days. The key to surviving—and thriving—is strategy. "Over time, I've learned to turn it into a time for me to accomplish a lot," he says. Though the most commonly accepted way to do that is to talk with colleagues or connect with friends, using a cell phone—even a hands-free one—increases your risk of accidents. Our advice? Skip the calls and try out these five other ways to increase your work and personal satisfaction.
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Even if you don't work at the same place as your spouse, there are advantages to driving as a couple, namely reconnecting. "Carpooling turns otherwise wasted time into a daily date," says Dr. Paquette. And though that might not translate into a higher salary or a corner office—it does increase the most important measure of your success: your happiness.
Don't forget hands-free language programs. Mary Alice McDonald, who works in music publishing, has been learning Russian during her morning commute. "I like to mentally practice common words and phrases that apply to my commute," she says, especially when another driver cuts her off. "You can only imagine how colorful my vocabulary is becoming." Not to mention: learning a language spoken in a country where your organization does business can give you a leg up when it comes to advancing.
Your hobbies can also use the attention. Barbara North, a director at a conference-and-event video company, drives across the Bay Bridge many mornings, a process she calls "painful and boring." So now she uses the time to practice numbers for the two bands with which she sings, including an all-girl punk rock band that does country-music covers. "Not only does it free up the time I would otherwise have been looking at music at home," she says, "but I'm actually spending more time on music than I used to, which means I am spending more time doing something I really love. Bonus: She's really ready for gigs. Some days, she confesses, she drives, instead of taking public transit, "just to have the extra time with my practice tapes."
Even if you have to drive or take mass-transit to work, you can consciously choose to incorporate activity into your commute. Get off at an earlier bus stop on a nice day, or park farther away, at the back of the lot or in a garage a few blocks away. "My commute begins with a walk," says Naila Bolus, president and CEO of Jumpstart, a Boston nonprofit that prepares low-income children for kindergarten. "Every single morning I walk my twins to school; it's something we do together, and I love sending them off on their day."
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Laura Vanderkam is the author of What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, recently published in paperback by Portfolio/Penguin.
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