Getting home today was a nightmare. Traffic Chaos – everywhere! This got me thinking about what productive things I can do when driving by myself and stuck in a traffic jam. It is NOT as simple as waiting for a delayed train where I can simply write/read and use my smartphone without worrying about causing an accident.
1. Relax – Listen to the Radio
This is my default in the car when travelling home. This gives me half an hour of relaxing, singing and downtime before getting home and being productive again. However, if I am stuck in traffic for a long time I soon get bored (or frustrated with traffic reports).
2. Catch up on Phone Calls
If you have a hands-free kit, being stuck in traffic is perfect for all those phone calls you haven’t got round to doing. Checking in with relatives, friends, work, returning missed calls from earlier in the day, or chasing/booking in the repair guy.
3. Listen to Audiobooks or Podcasts
If you have a huge reading list – sometimes the best way to get through it is by listening to it. Whether you do this on a regular basis during your commute or simply have a few emergency ones ready for heavy traffic jams. You should build up a collection of interesting content. It can beat listening to stupid phone in competitions on the radio.
4. Dictate/Record Lists
My mind always starts to wander while stuck in a traffic jam. This time is perfect for making either targeted lists (such as a grocery list, a to-do list for the following day) or simply noting things that spring to mind at random to review and organise later.
5. Practice a Language / Memorising Key Facts
If you are learning a language (yes, I am when I remember) or having an exam or test, being alone in the car can be the perfect time to rehearse or practice out loud. No one can hear you and anyone else will just think you are on the handsfree or singing along with the radio like everyone else.
6. Practice for a Presentation, an interview or a difficult conversation
Practice makes perfect. Whatever you need to practice for – quality alone time during your drive can, once again, be the perfect time to practice. Yes! Out loud.
7. Plan and Progress
I always get agitated when stuck in a traffic jam because I think ‘I have so much to do’ or ‘I need to be doing X right now’ when you have these moments – stop and think is there any way you can be progressing those items right now – whether it is creating a dictation, recording a YouTube Video or podcast, delgating work by making a phone call – if there is anything you can be doing (safely) do it!
8. Eat on the Go
I sometimes eat during my commute anyway. Not always the best idea, but if you eat breakfast on the way to work (or make arrangements for dinner to be ready for when you get in in the evening) it can be a great time saver. This means that you can get straight on to the important stuff when you get out of the traffic jam and reach your destination.
9. Problem-Solve and Generate Ideas
Being productive isn’t just about capturing your ideas. It is also about having the time to think outside the box, brainstorm and let your mind wander. Identify particular things that you want to address or solve. Then tackle those problems instead of getting stressed and agitated by the traffic.
10. Take a detour and stop somewhere
Today I was stuck in a traffic jam outside the local mall and was weighing up the possibility of going there instead to wait for the traffic to clear and get some shopping done instead. I didn’t today but I have done this a number of times which has saved me doing the shopping at the weekend (and had a much easier journey home by waiting it out).
So that’s it. My top 10 ways to be productive in a traffic jam and making the most of the bad situation.
How do you use your time when stuck in a traffic jam?