4 Tips for Surviving the Work Commute

Getting to work can be dull. Here’s how to be productive while you drive.

According to statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, the average United States employee has a 26 minute commute to and from work each day. And according to the National Household Survey, Canadians aren’t getting to their jobs much quicker with an average 25.4 minute commute.

That’s more than 6,000 minutes spent driving per year! Although it can be tempting to spend all of that time zoning out and thinking about lunch, we recommend taking a more proactive approach.

Topical Podcasts

Podcasts are informative audio files that can be downloaded on your computer or mobile device, usually as part of an ongoing series. Think of them as audio books, but for a wider range of topics. These can range from recipe ideas and writing tips to murder mysteries and love advice.

Basically, if a topic exists, there’s a podcast for it. Some are available on iTunes, while others can be downloaded from SoundCloud. Many podcasts also have their own native app. Your favorite search engine is also a great podcast source—just search for “best ____ podcasts” and a list of the top podcasts in your area of interest will show up.

You can also listen to our Express Employment Professionals podcast, On The Job! It’s a great way to learn about other people and their job search experiences.

But how do podcasts help your work commute? They allow you to learn while driving. Writers can hear about the latest writing techniques and how they can improve their writing style or blog. Construction workers are given an opportunity to absorb information about new apps and how they can be applied to their next project. Office workers can learn about workplace etiquette and the latest computer programs. You can even acquire personal finance knowledge!


Sometimes listening to the news can be disheartening, especially when it’s about the same political or viral story over and over. However, if you perk your ears a bit, you might be able to learn useful information. When you know more about current events, you can better understand how those events affect your industry. These events also make great talking points for small talk with coworkers.

Learn a Language

There are many podcasts and apps that you can listen to in your car to learn a language. These include Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, and Pimsleur, among others. Although you probably won’t be mastering a language from the front seat, the morning or afternoon commute is still a great time to learn new vocabulary or grammatical constructions. Foreign languages look great on resumes and open up a whole new world of job opportunities.

 Set Your Work Agenda

As you sit behind a driver who refuses to go even one mile above the minimum speed, resist the temptation to honk angrily and speed past them. Instead, turn on your favorite song and relax. If this is your morning commute, try to organize the schedule for the day. Mentally preparing yourself for the workday (or even the workweek) can make it much easier to get work started once at the office.

If you’re on the way home, think about what happened that day. What did you do well? What could have used improvement? What’s still left for tomorrow? Questions like these can help you pinpoint personal strengths and areas for improvement. You can even download a dictation app and say your thoughts out loud. That way you’ll have notes to review later.

How do you make your work commute more enjoyable?  Let us know in the comments below!





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