Daily commutes in and around your metro area can be a drag but you have options that might make each journey more palatable.
For openers, keep your car in top shape. Take it in for service if you even suspect something is askew. One breakdown and your whole day could be shot. Also join an automotive club. They pay for themselves the first time you need a jump start or towing, and the peace of mind is priceless.
* Keep your car clean – particularly the windows. It is invigorating to drive a clean car. Spotless windows enhance your view, safety, and driving ability as well.
* Ride with the windows closed and the air conditioner on, if you’re proceeding at 45 miles per hour or more. You'll get at least the same miles per gallon as you do with the windows open and the air conditioner off. Your ride will be quieter with the windows closed, and you're better able to control your environment. If you're merely chugging along, at least the air in your car will be cleaner.
* Use your MP3 or CD player to control your environment when driving. Subscribe to audiobook services or patronize your local library for lectures, plays, books, and music on CDs.
* Alternatively, use commute time to reflect on what you'd like to accomplish or how you'd like your day to go. Keep from flicking on the radio, or listening to shock talkers who add little to your quality of life.
* Avoid potentially dangerous maneuvers such as shaving, putting on make-up, or talking on a cellular phone.
* If you're part of a car pool, ride to work with people with whom you enjoy conversing or simply spending time.
* Keep a concealed wallet with credit cards and library cards; a gym bag with socks, underwear, and a toothbrush; sunglasses, tissues, a flashlight, maps of the area, and a container of gas additives. Also, store a raincoat, umbrella, a first aid kit, and a list of town libraries. Hide a roll of dimes and a roll of quarters in your car.
* Keep spare car keys in your house and spare house keys hidden in your car. Keep extra car keys in a faithful "Hide-a-Key" compartment which magnetically attaches under the bumper.
Once a week, take a different way home – even if it's a few minutes longer. Also, designate one week night per week, perhaps a Monday or Tuesday, as errand night and avoid having your errands stack up on the weekend.
At least once a week, practice telecommuting – that is, not going into the office at all but using email and the telephone to correspond with members of your office.
This obviously reduces the amount of time you need to be in your car to commute and can greatly enhance your productivity. Working away from the office often enables you to engage in conceptual and first-time kinds of thinking that can be difficult in a noisy office.
Jeff Davidson is "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" and the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com