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6 Ways to Maximize Your Commute to the Clinic

by Taylor Kong, SPT

young-woman-doctor-older-man-patient-smilingA long commute can add unnecessary stress to your day, arising from traffic delays and distracted drivers; however, if used efficiently, this extra time can be used to fuel your day instead of draining your energy before you even see your first patient.

Even if you have a short journey to the clinic, there is always room to make your extra minutes a little more productive.

Here are six new ways to transform your everyday commute:

Practice Gratitude

Practicing reflection and self-awareness are key components to personal and professional growth. Whether you are riding the train or driving to work, you can use this time to take a deep dive on the previous day.

Start by thinking of a few things that went well and a few areas that could have been improved the day prior. Take this a step further and voice these aloud or write these down if you have the capability.

While reflecting on moments from yesterday, take the time to recognize your own personal growth. Celebrate your wins, no matter how small, and acknowledge areas of improvement. In either situation, both can be utilized to give you perspectives on how to crush your goals for today and in the future.

Learn something new

If you have an hour-long commute, that’s sixty minutes you could use to educate yourself. Take the time to invest in yourself by tuning into podcasts or listening to an audiobook.

There is a world of podcasts available on a variety of platforms, including Spotify, the built-in Apple podcasts app, or Google Play Music. . Audiobooks are widely available through Audible, or many public libraries have an app to borrow ebooks and audiobooks.

In addition, if you are enrolled in courses, you could listen to the audio recordings from lectures to get a head start on studying.

Whatever it may be, starting your day with a learning-oriented mindset prepares you to think critically and therefore maximize your productivity throughout the day.

Limit your engagement with the news

Starting your day by catching up with current events can be highly beneficial, but too much of it can feel overwhelming. With constant updates on economic issues, public health crises, and political drama, continuously keeping up with the news can lead to a stressful, anxiety-ridden start to your day.

Stick to the headlines and essential updates, then turn your attention to something that adds positive value to your day. Podcasts such as NPR’s Up First gives listeners a brief, ten to fifteen-minute news overview each weekday. A small segment like this allows you to feel informed, but not overwhelmed and can leave room for other valuable practices during your commute.

Reach out to a loved one or friend

If you’re just driving or going through your commute passively, it can help to have someone to talk to. To have a virtual commute buddy, you could call a loved one or friend that perhaps you’ve been meaning to catch up with.

Whoever it is, make sure to talk to someone who will add value to your day instead of weighing it down. This person will elicit a feeling of fulfillment after your conversation with them, whether this comes in the form of a rise in energy, clarity, or joy. This mental state will widely depend on who you talk to and your overall persona, but there is no right or wrong way to feel, as long as you feel content.

In addition, letting someone know you’re thinking of them means a lot. It not only strengthens your connection with that person but can also help to let go of your stresses that day.

We all live busy lives and making time for the people you care about is a key part of having healthy relationships.

Envision your day

Having a structured, thought-out action plan for your day is essential to staying productive and efficient.

Making this road map can happen in a variety of ways based on your mode of transportation. If you are taking public transport, write it out. If you are driving, verbalize it to yourself.

In addition to simply jotting action items down, you can strategize your priorities by splitting up tasks by priority (high, medium, low) and whether they’re for work or your personal life.

Having a daily log of tasks allows you to easily stay in perspective of your goals. Think, “how are these tasks contributing to my long- and short-term goals? If not, how can I restructure my task list?”

Download apps to maximize productivity

If you find yourself staring at your Instagram feed for your entire commute, downloading some apps to practice self-care is an effortless way to put that screen time to good use.

To keep track of tasks and goals, Wunderlist, Evernote are great for making that roadmap before you arrive at the clinic. To learn a new language or brush up on your semi-fluent skills, Duolingo makes it incredibly simple. Lastly, Headspace makes meditation accessible on the go, with a variety of themes and prompts.

Whatever apps you download, your phone can be utilized in ways that go way beyond news feeds. Your device can help you improve your mental state, help you practice self-care, and allow you to better yourself, both personally and professionally.

In summary…

Your commuting time may seem just another subpar part of your day, but in reality, the minutes truly add up.

If your commute to work is 30 minutes one way, that’s at least two and a half hours each week, and ten hours each month! And if you optimize your commute on your way home, the effect doubles.

The point is, the downtime you have in your day can be used to your advantage. Whether you use this time for personal development, planning tasks, or reconnecting with loved ones, you have limitless options to make your commute work for you.

Please add your favorite ways to maximize your commute below! Happy travels! 

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