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7 Ways to Improve Your Commute

In an ideal world, we would all work from home in our pajamas while eating Sour Patch Kids and listening to our Spotify playlists on full blast. Unfortunately, most of us have full-time jobs away from the comforts of home. Each morning, we get up, don our nicest business attire, and head into the office. Whether you get there by bike, train or car, the commute to work can be a real downer.

If asked about the top ten annoyances of having an office job, most people would list the commute in the top five. Factoring in traffic and road rage, commuting might get bumped up to the top three. It’s easy to get pissed about a commute; there’s not much fun involved in sitting in traffic, listening to boring radio stations, overhearing phone conversations on the train, or losing your precious time simply getting from point A to point B. There are, however, a few things you can do to not hate your commute quite so much.

1. Curate Your Playlists

Most people have a smartphone or portable music player that can handle playlists nowadays. Utilize this tool to make your commute exponentially more enjoyable. Curate playlists instead of just loading all of your music onto the device and sifting through it during your commute. Make playlists for a variety of different moods, like an “Angry at my boss” playlist full of angsty, metal music, or a “Did really well on my presentation” playlist with pop music that will make you dance in your seat while driving. You can also download podcasts or eBooks to switch it up. Try out comedy podcasts, news podcasts or eBooks of popular novels depending on your tastes and preferences. You can also download Spotify or Pandora apps on your smartphone to keep things interesting and learn about new music.

2. Carpool With a Friend

Notice the “friend” part. Don’t carpool with just anyone at work, as this can actually make your commute even worse. If you don’t like the person at work, imagine sharing a 20-60 minute car ride with them twice a day. Establish a relationship with a coworker before offering to carpool so that you know your personalities will mesh during a long commute. Or, if a friend of yours works in the same office building or close to your office, opt to commute with him or her. Arrange to split gas money, or alternate who drives each week, to not only have a companion along for the ride, but also save money.

3. Change Up Your Route

Alternating the route that you take to work may seem like a minor change, but it can really help you enjoy the commute a little more. Routine can make people bored and complacent, so changing up a few turns here and there might spice up the drive. A different route than your normal way may tack on a few extra minutes to your commute, but it’s well worth it if it livens up the mornings.

4. Keep Your Car Clean

Nobody wants to hop into a car that’s messy and has undistinguishable odors. Keep your car clean and tidy so that you’re not confronted with a mess first thing in the morning and immediately after leaving work. You can also invest in some items to make you enjoy your car even more, such as seat covers, new air fresheners, fun floor mats, or cup holder liners. Minor changes can make a big impact on your mood while driving.

5. Travel During Non-Peak Hours

If you can help it, don’t travel during the prime rush hours in the morning and evening. Normally from 8-9am and 5-6pm, the roads are more packed than other hours of the day. Particularly in big cities, you can save yourself time, frustration and gas money by leaving for work a little earlier, and heading home a little later. Some employers will even make adjustments to work hours because of traffic, allowing employees to come in at 8am and leave at 4pm, or some other similar arrangement. Otherwise, you can put in an extra hour at work everyday to avoid the traffic. Not only will you look like a star employee, you’ll also probably get home around the same time but without having to deal with gridlocked cars on the highway.

6. Take Public Transportation

Many cities and suburbs have highly effective public transportation that can get you to and from work without the hassle of you jumping behind the wheel. Check for public transportation options from your home to work to see if there is a train, bus or trolley that operates on a consistent schedule. For a small price per trip, you can sit back and relax while someone else handles the wheel. Public transportation allows you to be hands-free so that you can read a book, magazine, or newspaper, listen to music, shut your eyes, or even get some work done while commuting.

7. Telecommute Once In a While

Your boss might not let you work from home everyday, but that’s not to say that he or she wouldn’t be open to the idea of you telecommuting every once in a while. Approach your boss with a plan of when you’d like to telecommute (maybe one day a week to start) and how you’d handle working from home (what your set up, hours and availability would be). The worst that can happen is that your boss would say no, and it never hurts to ask.

Do you have a long commute to work? What do you do to not hate your commute?

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