Meet The ‘Super Commuters’ Who Spend Up To 6 Hours A Day On The Road | Megyn Kelly TODAY
How to Make Time Spent Commuting by Car Efficient
The typical American spends an hour each day commuting to and from work.With the right strategy, you can reduce your commute time. Even if you can’t, there’s no need to dread your commute or to spend your time cursing at traffic. Instead, maximize your time by getting work done, catching up with friends and family, or even learning a thing or two.
Getting to Your Destination Fast
Avoid the rush.The best way to speed up your commute is to shift your work schedule so that you can avoid peak traffic hours. For instance, if the commute is worst at 7-9am and 4-6pm, you could leave around 6am and come home at 3pm, or leave at 9am and come home after 6pm to miss rush hour.
Use GPS to optimize your commute.The map function on your phone can suggest alternate routes and show you approximate driving times, taking into account traffic volume and accidents. Checking your route each morning and evening before you set out will allow you to find ways around the worst traffic.
Switch up your route.Continue changing up your path to work until you hit upon the one that gets you there fastest at the time you commute. Even if the route you choose that day is slower, experiencing new scenery can make your drive more enjoyable.
Get through traffic jams faster with the right lane-switching strategy.We’ve all been there: you change into a faster moving lane only for it to immediately grind to a halt. Or you stay in your lane and watch car after car pass you in the next lane over. So what should you do? Luckily, scientists have taken away some of the guess work by modeling ideal lane changing strategy.
- Don’t just stay in your lane. Not only you, but the jam overall will move more quickly if drivers change lanes.
- Wait to merge as long as possible. If a road sign warns of lanes merging ahead, don’t get over right away. You’ll speed your commute and actually reduce overall congestion if you wait until the actual merge point to get over.
- If the car before you is stopped and there is a space open in the adjacent lane, change lanes. This strategy is optimal for reducing your time in the jam.
- Don’t do “fast” lane changes. If a car in the lane next to you is accelerating so that you can squeeze into the gap behind it, you may be tempted to do so. Don’t. Modeling shows that "fast" lane changes will actually increase your time in the traffic jam.
Working from Your Car
Plan your day.Planning ahead has been shown to be an effective way to reduce stress and increase happiness.The ride to work is a great time to think about the day to come and to plan out your schedule. The ride home is the perfect time to reflect on what you’ve accomplished, what still needs to be done, and how you will do it.
Write with a voice to text program.Just because your hands are on the wheel doesn’t mean you can’t get some serious work done. A hands-free headset and voice-to-text program for your phone makes it easy to write anything from brainstorming notes to letters to reports to the next great American novel. Indeed, many great novelists, including Dostoevsky, Dumas, Dickens, and Tolstoy dictated their works, so you’ll be in good company. Most smart phones come with a built in voice-to-text function, but for more accurate transcriptions, consider these apps:
- Google Keyboard– Android; free; speech recognition so it learns with every use; can be used without a network with the right voice data packages.
- Dragon Dictation– Android / iPhone; free; requires a network.
- Evernote– Android; free; records both voice and transcription; requires a network.
- Voice Assistant– iPhone; .99; speech recognition so it learns with every use; autocorrect for grammar and spelling; requires a network.
Brainstorm.Whether you are working on ideas for your job, hatching your own business plan, or outlining a novel, your car commute offers you a great opportunity to talk your way through ideas. You can purchase a voice recorder or use your smart phone. Better yet, use a speech-to-text program like Dragon, so you won’t have to transcribe your recording later.
Make business calls.You don’t need your hands to talk. Try scheduling your commute so that you can make business calls that don’t require you to consult your computer or texts. Be sure to use hands-free equipment. It is the law in 19 of the 50 states of the U.S., and it is always a safer option.
Enjoying Your Car Time
Catch up with friends and family.Your commute home, in particular, is a great time to call family and friends. Be sure to use a hands-free headset for safety, and then chat away.
Take a class.Whether you want to do some professional development or are interested in something else entirely, you can download lecture series that will teach you something while you drive. You can purchase lectures online from companies like The Great Courses, or you can use iTunes U to find free online courses offered by universities like MIT.
Learn a foreign language.There are a variety of free foreign language podcasts you can download from the iTunes or Google Play stores. Alternately, you can go to your library for CDs, or to your website to download language learning books.
Listen to an audio book.You can be productive and look for books that will advance your professional development, or you can opt for the fiction books that you haven’t found time to read. Audible.com is a great, if expensive, source of audio books. For free books, check your local public library. Most of them subscribe to services like OneClick or OverDrive that allow you to download audio books onto your smart phone.
Subscribe to podcasts.There are news podcasts that cover everything from foreign affairs to business, and entertainment podcasts that discuss sports, tell stories, and more. Whatever you’re interested in, there is a podcast for you, and for the most part, they’re free. Not sure what to pick? Try one of these popular podcasts:
- Hidden Brain
- This American Life
- TED Radio Hour
- Undisclosed: The State Vs. Adnan Syed
- Stuff You Should Know
- Fresh Air
Listen to the radio.It’s free and it’s right there in your car. If you commute at a regular time, you might find a public radio program to look forward to. Or perhaps you can use your commute to tune out as you listen to music.
- Always focus on driving first. It is better to arrive safely and backtrack in your CD, call somebody back later, or just miss a few moments of radio.
- DON'T dial your cell phone while driving down the road! You should pay attention to the road and only use your cell phone if it is hands-free.
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