Upon leaving the office each day, I experience a brief moment of joy as I savor the fact I’m done with work for the day, and not yet stuck in traffic. While the Internet would have you believe your commute (along with your job, your diet, your drinking—pretty much everything) is killing you, there are some career lessons your commute can teach you.
According to the U.S. Census American Community Survey 1-year estimates, a whopping 91% of Americans surveyed drive to work or take public transit. So, given the overwhelming majority of workers are stuck with a commute, perhaps we should try to put a positive spin on our hours on the road—at least until that teleportation thing works out.
Here are 3 reasons why your commute doesn’t totally suck—and will help your career:
Effective Time Management
Commuting traffic is an unpredictable beast. As any commuter can attest, no matter how well you’ve plotted out your route, checked the times of your buses or trains, or checked traffic on the freeway, something can always muck up your timetable.
It only takes one missed train or traffic snarl on the interchange to teach a commuter the importance of time management. Those skills end up being an important foundation for success in the workplace, too.
Rarely do our days follow a precise schedule, which means the better we are at anticipating potential issues with deadlines, the easier it’ll be to impress your boss and clients.
No two commutes are the same, which means in addition to planning out the hours of your day, you also have to factor in potential hazards and detours.
Sound like a regular day in the office? Yeah, me too. But commuting is a great primer for the sometimes drastic changes we often face with our workloads and even responsibilities. After having to re-calibrate my drive home to avoid one accident, one baseball game that ended early, and a surprise visit from the President, the constant shifting of my workload and role in the office barely fazes me.
These days, it’s actually harder to distance ourselves from technology than it is to find it. With Wi-fi practically everywhere, and many of us constant access to the Internet in our pocket, it’s not hard to find ways to entertain ourselves during the daily commute.
How you chose to use that time, however, can help your professional—and personal—development. Depending on your mode of transportation, options range from reading up on the day’s news, listening to an audiobook, learning a new language, or even meditating. By utilizing commute time to focus on learning a new skill, or just about the world around you, you’ll become a more rounded employee, and might even increase your prospects for a promotion or career change.
If the U.S. Census estimates are accurate, pretty much all of us have to suffer through some sort of a commute on a regular basis. Sure, it’s important to understand the risks of sitting on our tush, but let’s be realistic; there’s not much we can do about it right this instant. Finding a few perks hiding within your daily ride to work just might make it a little less painful, and a lot more productive.