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Ahhh ... the commute. Commuting to and from work can sometimes take hours depending on traffic. Taking a bus, train, or carpool (yay environment!) may help you on the stress level, but it still eats up precious minutes.

We normally view our commute negatively: it’s something that keeps us from doing other, more productive things. However, it’s a shift in perspective that can make your commute awesome. Instead of viewing your commute as a necessary evil, try viewing it as “me time.” This is a set amount of uninterrupted time to do with as you wish (safely, of course). As soon as you view it as a little chunk of paradise before and after a crazy day, watch your world get a little brighter.

Here, six ways to optimize your newfound me time:

1. Use Pocket to Curate Some Offline News

Pocket is this awesome little app (and plug-in) that lets you save and curate articles to read later without wifi or data. For example, have them automatically dump the New York Times’ top articles without any fuss. Or see an interesting story but no time to read it? Pocket it for later.

2. Bring a Book

man reading

How many of us complain about not having enough time to read a book? There is no better time to get some quality reading done than your bus or train ride. I’m pages away from finishing “All the Light We Cannot See” (could not recommend it more) and read it almost entirely on my commute to work over a month or so.

Fiction not your thing? Try some reading about being more creative (Big Magic is a great one), or furthering your career (Own It: The Power of Women at Work, Start With Why,) or finding happiness (The Geography of Bliss). There are more books than we can count, and so much reading to be done.

3. Check Your Email (But Don't Respond)

Those emails can wait for replies (unless they can’t...you know those emails.) But simply looking through your inbox gives you automatic goals to start the day. By sorting through your emails (but not drafting a response), you’re giving yourself a leg-up on work without actually engaging. See what’s going to be your first priority when you get in the office—that way, you’re prepared for what’s to come and can mull it over on your way in.

4. Download Some Podcasts

This one you can do in your car (the first three definitely aren't car-friendly!). From food to career to lifestyle to comedy to travel, there is a podcast for everything. On Sunday while you’re doing your laundry, set your iTunes to automatically download a week’s worth of content that you can soak up. Some of my favorites: Adulthood Made Easy, Planet Money, Crimetown, and Magic Lessons.

5. Make a Call


You remember your grandma? Yeah, that grandma...the one you haven’t called in weeks. When things get busy, it’s easy to forget to take 5 minutes and check in with your loved ones on the walk to work. Just asking how they’ve been and letting them know you’re thinking of them will undoubtedly brighten their day, and yours.

6. Learn a Language

I don't know about you, but I literally feel this daily intense need to be chic enough to speak fluent French. Luckily, apps like Duolingo are free and can assist you in learning that new language! And a little-known tip: Spotify also has playlists full of language lessons, in addition to international music!

This piece originally appeared on victori media.

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