Like it or not, commuting is a fact of life. According to the US Department of Transportation, nearly 130 million American workers share the roads each day. 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.
Plan Ahead – 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.
Listen to Music – 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.
Use Traffic Apps – Sure, there’s AM radio, but you can never find a live traffic report when you need it most. Instead, download the Beat the Traffic 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. Or harness the power of crowds to avoid traffic tie-ups with Traffic Talk, an app that delivers real-time updates from your fellow drivers.
Get Educated – 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.
Change Your Hours – 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.
Hold the Phone – Forty-one 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. Download an app like DriveSafe.ly, which reads 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. Believe it or not, they’ll still be there when you settle down at your desk.
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