Leadership

3 simple things you can do on your commute to be happier and more successful

For those who depend on travel as a factor of their work performance, structural inefficiencies can take a measurable toll on their productivity.
EschCollection | Getty Images
For those who depend on travel as a factor of their work performance, structural inefficiencies can take a measurable toll on their productivity.

Your commute shouldn't just be a daily chore. It can become a personal journey in which you enrich your career, enlighten your mind, and enhance your happiness. But too many people don't make the most of their travel to and from their office. Here are three things you can do to make the most of your time going to work.

First, create a short list of goals for the day. The morning is when you prepare for your coming day. It's when you can prioritize what you most want to get done, and in which order these items should be accomplished.

During your commute, select the top three things you want to get done at work. For example, you might list these things: 1. register for an upcoming conference, 2. talk to my manager about a raise and 3. finalize the marketing presentation. By having a concrete list, you will know exactly what needs to get done when you walk through your office door. If you don't have such a plan, you will find yourself reacting to incoming tasks at work instead of pushing forward on the goals most important to you.

Second, read a book. Americans spend on average 26 minutes commuting to work. That means we collectively spend around 3.4 million years traveling to our offices each year. That's a lot of time which many people spend checking Facebook or listening to talk radio. Instead of frittering away your time, make the most of it by reading a book or listening to an audio book.

For example, if you work in advertising sales, you could read a book that discusses the history of the advertising business. You will be able to infuse your business meetings with historical lessons that might impress your colleagues.

What is more, even if you choose to read a book on another topic, you will acquire knowledge in other areas which can enhance your lateral thinking skills. By reading a book, you will also deepen your focus and lengthen your attention span which will train your mind for success at work.

Third, relax. Your days are filled with meetings, presentations, phone calls, and conferences. So why should your commute also be busy? If you take public transportation, your morning journey is the perfect opportunity to close your eyes and practice breathing deeply. Listen to the sound of your breath as you inhale and exhale. Hear the sounds around you, and then notice the person doing the listening (as in, yourself).

By turning your attention yourself, you'll become more aware of yourself, your thoughts, and your feelings. If you drive to work, try putting on some calming and wordless music which can envelop you. It will give you a sense of calm before the noise of your work day begins.

When you turn your daily commute into a ritual of planning, learning or relaxing, you will start down a path of personal transformation, which will likely leave you more aware and happy.

Commentary by Deepak Chopra and Kabir Sehgal. Chopra is the author of The Healing Self with Rudolph E. Tanzi, the founder of The Chopra Foundation, co-founder of Jiyo and The Chopra Center for Wellbeing. Sehgal is a New York Times bestselling author, former vice president at JPMorgan Chase, multi-Grammy Award winner, and U.S. Navy veteran. Chopra and Sehgal created Home: Where Everyone Is Welcome, inspired by American immigrants.

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