Don’t Spin Your Wheels Commuting

4 ways to make time in transit count

You might assume that a clogged rush-hour freeway or a sweaty subway car isn't conducive to productivity. However, there are ways to turn your commute into a fruitful—if not entirely dreamy—part of your day. Productivity expert Hillary Rettig tells Life Reimagined how.

Minimize commuting time. OK, the first rule is a bit of a cheat. "A lot of workplaces offer flex days, telecommuting, or a condensed workweek with longer days—allowing you to miss rush hour—but employees are afraid to ask. Don't be. Bosses are human too," Rettig says. Just make sure you're win-win. Perhaps consider asking for a telecommute day during the summer but offer to come in during your office's busy season. Or request to work three 12-hour days instead of five traditional eight-hour ones.

Appreciate even the teeniest sliver of time. "Teach yourself to value ever-smaller increments of time. Ask yourself, 'How can I best use this 20 minutes?'" suggests Rettig. Maybe you can listen to an audiobook or catch up on phone calls en route. The point being: Don't see the commute as a wasted block of time; spend it doing something enriching.

Invest in yourself. Make your commute comfortable. If you're listening to audiobooks, get a good sound system. If you ride the subway, invest in a nice journal to write in. "Make sure that you use the time for self-care and things that align with your values."

Lengthen your route. No, really: "Good time managers work hard not to be rushed," Rettig says. "Leave earlier in the morning so you're not rushing out the door. Take a slower or less hectic route. Essentially, create a commute that stresses you less."