Some work-for-pay moms work from home—your office is at your kitchen table or elsewhere in the house (which I thought would be cool until I actually tried working from home during my maternity leave—whew, that is hard!) But for those of us who work a few miles or more from home, we have the sometimes-frustrating, at-best-uneventful daily experience of The Commute.
Since our home is a parsonage provided by the church my husband pastors, we live in a town about 50 miles away from the city where we met, dated, had our first home together, have friends and family, and where I still work. So, The Commute is a big part of my day (about two hours, total) and I try to make the most of it.
Whether your drive takes five minutes or fifty minutes, you can use this “liminal space,” this threshold of time between home and work, to clear your mind for what’s ahead. Here’s my top-five list of ways to maximize your drive time.
1. Gear up for the day ahead. I try to think through the things on my to-do list, and make a mental note of the most urgent tasks for the day. If I think of things I need to do that are not already on my to-do list, I call my office and leave myself a voice mail, so I don’t have to worry about forgetting it before I get a chance to write it down.
2. Get informed. I have XM, and I love the POTUS political talk station. So, on my drive in, I often listen to the Morning Briefing, with spin-free news, interviews, and fun features like "POTUS punchline" (short clips from the previous night's political comedy--Stewart, Colbert, Leno, etc.), the Blogcast (run down of political blog chatter), and a "this day in history" segment.
3. Make phone calls. I admit it--I have not taken the Oprah Pledge. I would never, ever text while driving, but I do use my cell phone. I can catch up with my parents or a friend, make a call where I'll be on hold a while, etc. If an author or potential author wants to schedule a phone call, I'll intentionally make it for my drive time. It's like taking my office on the road.
4. Pray or process. Sometimes, I turn off the radio and just talk—to God and to myself. I remind myself of things I know to be true even when I don’t feel it. I sort through my emotions by speaking them aloud. Occasionally, I'll yell or be impertinent. God can take it.
5. Rock out. I do not have an iPod, nor do I care about getting one. That is because literally the only time I can listen to music is while I am driving. I can't read or write while music (with words, at least) is playing. And I can't really listen to music without singing along, so I'd look pretty silly singing out loud to the soundtrack in my ear-budded head. So, my default drive-time entertainment (if I don't need to do any of the above) is to rotate between my three favorite XM music stations--Mix 22, The Blend, and 90s on 9--and singing my heart out. It's a great way to clear my head after a long day.
What is your commute like?