We spend a lot of time in a car. I’m guessing that since you clicked on this article, you know the feeling. Southern California has a lot to offer: beautiful beaches, mountains, vineyards, city life, and an extensive web of freeways perpetually saturated with commuters, of which I am one. It probably doesn’t come as a shock that long commute times have been linked to everything from stress, high blood pressure, and weight gain to increased divorce rates. So, if ditching the commute isn’t an option for you, how do you make the most of those hours?

I did some research for this article and found a lot of tips for commuters who can bike or take the train to work. I’m all for a nice bike ride, but if you are a Southern Californian like me, there is a good chance that these aren’t viable options. Therefore, I am tailoring my tips to driving commuters and will refrain from passing along suggestions like meditation or writing in any form during your commute. We share the roads so I need you alert and focused out there.

Tip #1

One of my personal favorite ways to pass the time on the road is with audio books. There are a number of online retailers of audio books, and if you like the classics you can even get many of those for free from volunteer organizations like LibriVox. In addition, there are a wealth of podcasts to choose from spanning virtually any topic you could want. Audio books and podcasts are a great way to enjoy a good story, catch up on current events, learn about a new subject, or just relish some laughs. Don’t be afraid to mix things up. Feeling overwhelmed? Maybe a lighthearted or humorous story is in order. Bored or under stimulated? Try a lecture series or more complex classic. I’ve always found the drive seems a bit shorter when I am caught up in an interesting tale.

Tip #2

Don’t always make your commute a rush. I frequently plan to allocate the least amount of time to diving as possible, but with inevitable delays this unfortunately can lead to a continual feeling of running behind. Allowing yourself a little extra time can do wonders to ease the stress of that morning commute. Plan enough time to stop and grab a coffee or ensure that an unforeseen traffic incident doesn’t throw you into a panic. Of course, there will always be the occasional traffic meltdown that no amount of planning ahead can fix, but if you give yourself a little extra time, you can help reduce the stress that comes with perpetual rushing.

Tip #3

Final tip, find a carpool buddy. Here at Nigro & Nigro we carpool frequently. It saves money, is better for the environment, and helps keep you awake on those especially early mornings. In addition to this, carpooling is a great way to get to know your coworker (or whoever your carpool companion may be). If carpooling with a coworker, this time can be useful for hashing out current work-related projects but be careful not to make all your commute conversations about work. Try to keep things social, you probably spend plenty of time discussing work at the office.

Written by J. Berry, CPA, Senior Accountant