Growing up in Southern California, I spent a lot of time in a car, which is why I created a list of the top 5 productive things to do while driving.
Since I’m obsessed with not wasting time, which I believe to be my most precious asset, it was out of necessity that I found ways to optimize my time while commuting. (Some may think I’m crazy: I try to optimize my time in many situations that’s typically wasted. In fact, as I’m writing this post, I’m sitting in the waiting room of an optometrist.)
I’ll digress quickly and address the seemingly neurotic idea of needing to utilize every minute for work. It’s important my readers understand I am completely against working more; rather, I’m for working smarter.
Let’s be honest, for most people time spent commuting is considered wasted. It’s not a quality activity with your family, driving is merely a necessity to get from one place to another.
If you could teleport you would, which means there’s little or no intrinsic value in the car ride itself.
That’s why it’s imperative to find productive things to do while driving to earn back the wastefulness of your most precious asset. If you’ve heeded my past advice and set a value on your time, you’ll appreciate that wasting it is (a lot) worse than wasting money, not least because your time translates to a monetary value, but because it’s the only resource in the world which you can never gain back.
Naturally, all of my recommendations adhere to strict safety guidelines. Dying reduces your time infinitely to zero, so preventing that at all costs seems smart.
Once that’s out of the way, here are my top 5 productive things to do while driving.
1. Plan Ahead
Planning is an essential prerequisite to utilizing your drive-time effectively. To make the most out of your commute, you’re going to need to micromanage your schedule in order to compartmentalize tasks that you can only do during your drive-time.
On days when I’m commuting I look at my Master To-Do-List in the morning, so I can delegate all the activities which I can do while I’m on the road.
I then allow 5 minutes before my drive to essentially plan my drive.
For example, if I have to make phone calls to various agencies, such as American Airlines, Intercontinental, or Charles Schwab, I’ll ensure all of the numbers are listed clearly as contacts in my phone.
While on the road, all I have to do is tell Siri to, ‘Call the Intercontinental’, and I can proceed through my To-Do-List completely hands-free.
2. Phone Calls
If you’re making phone calls at home or taking away productive work time for something that can easily be outsourced to your drive, you’re being offensively inefficient.
Schedule calls for times you know you’ll be in the car. If I’m visiting family in Orange County and have to drive to Los Angeles to play poker, I know I’ll have an hour.
I can usually knock out two or three important phone calls during that time and preserve my precious work for more critical or creative tasks.
I’ve literally booked entire vacations, closed business deals, and funded my retirement on my way to buy a few lemons.
Check out the video I made on 'The 5 Productive Things To Do While Driving!'
I love learning, and one of the most efficient ways to do that is by digesting the experiences and wisdom of others.
If you don’t have mentors, listening to a podcast from an inspiring person is a great way to digitally fill that void.
My current favorite podcast is “The Tim Ferriss Show,” because he interviews some of the world’s most successful people and distils their habits and routines down into actionable exercises that anyone can do.
My favorite episodes are those with Josh Waitzkin, Seth Godin, and The Tao of Seneca.
I also love, “The Gary Vee Audio Experience.” Any episode will get you fired up and inspired to crush your week; it’s awesome because he puts out new content on a daily basis!
Find a podcast that teaches something you want to learn and crank it out. Download it before you get in the car so you don’t waste time or data on your cell.
4. Learn a Language
Before I moved to Parma, Italy, in January of 2011, I wanted to have a strong base in Italian, which I could build upon when I arrived. Having the fundamentals down meant I could expedite my learning process, gather more depth of understanding about the culture, and thereby enrich my experience.
I used Pimsleur to learn Italian, 80% of which I did while running errands. Each lesson is 30 minutes, and by using everyday conversation you learn the way people actually speak, not some formal bullshit that you’re never going to use.
I also used Pimsleur to learn rudimentary Mandarin while living in Macau (although I wasn’t driving as much, so I found it harder to dedicate time to practice).
Pimsleur has three levels, each with 30 lessons. If you do the math that means you’ll need 45 hours of driving to complete the entire course.
After I had finished all 90 lessons, I could order food, shop for groceries, and ask for directions, all before I got off the plane. Having that base allowed me to increase my vocabulary at a rapid rate, and I never once opened a book or used a dictionary.
I recommend doing each lesson twice but always progressing to the next one before repeating the former.
I aimed to complete two lessons a day (I drove a lot). In the morning I would do lesson 1 and then move on to lesson 2 in the afternoon. The next morning I would repeat lesson 2 before moving on to lesson 3, and so on.
5. Read a Book
Not literally read but absorb.
Listening to audiobooks is another way to gather extremely valuable information at a fraction of the cost of its value.
A book costs $10 – $30, but the right books are worth 100 times that if you simply put one idea into action.
A few books I’ve enjoyed listening to in the car are:
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss
Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Taleb
Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
I hope you enjoyed the Top 5 Productive Things to Do While Driving guide and discovered new ways to enable your productivity during your commute.
Don’t show up to your poker game or work tilted because you just wasted an hour commuting: Feel empowered that you got shit done.
… And before you play, find somewhere quiet and use the App, HeadSpace and meditate for 10 minutes, enabling your brain and body to transition from the road to the game.
Then go crush it.