Ideas For Commute: 9 Clever Ways to Use ‘Dead’ Driving Time for Your Professional Growth

ideas-for-commuteEveryone dreads a long commute to work. Spending hours each day just getting to and from work can seem like a frustratingly huge waste of time. Whether you drive yourself, carpool, or use public transportation, there are ways that you can make this time productive. Use your commute time to work on your job skills and to complete professional development tasks. With high-tech options like apps and podcasts, as well as print media, there are so many ways to increase your knowledge and make you a more valuable employee.

9 Clever Professional Development Ideas for Commute:

1. Tap onto the Power of an ‘Auto-Mobile Mastermind’ Group

A mastermind group is a collection of people with common goals who meet to share ideas and resources. The concept was introduced by Napoleon Hill who describes a mastermind group as: “The coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony.” If you have a long drive to work, you could pick up your mastermind group members or schedule a teleconference.

2. Talk With Your Mentor

Assuming you have a headset to use while driving, you can schedule conversations with your mentor if they are available during your morning and afternoon commute. Mentors can provide invaluable advice to help you work through a difficult challenge at work or share their thoughts on what you can work on to improve your career position.

3. Practice A Speech

In many careers, excellent public speaking skills can give you a tremendous advantage to reaching your goals. If you are alone in your practicing a speech can just one of the great ideas for your commute. Joining a Toastmasters club or similar organization will give you motivation to continuously work on new material. You can also use a recording application on your smartphone to record your speech to listen for potential areas of improvement.

4. Listen to Audiobooks

Any self-development expert will tell you that listening to audiobooks is one of the best ideas for commute. It’s also a great option if you drive yourself. Clearly you do not have the option to text, email, or use your tablet while driving, but you can still listen and learn. Use your iPod, smartphone, or the good, old-fashioned CD player to listen to books that can contribute to your professional development and improve the knowledge you have about your industry. You can purchase books, check them out from the library, or download them from online stores. Audible is a company that offers thousands of titles including many professional development and career audiobooks for download.

5. Listen to Podcasts

Use your phone, iPod, or iPad to download and listen to podcasts. You can find a podcast, most often free, on just about any topic these days. Music and other entertainment podcasts are great for relaxing on your commute, but you can also find news stories, motivational talks, courses, and other educational podcasts that will help you improve yourself on your way to work.

6. Hone Skills with Tutorials

With your tablet computer, you can improve your computing skills. Those tutorials for your word processor, spreadsheet, or presentation software may not be the most interesting, but they are full of valuable information that can help you work more productively. Take the time to work through these tutorials during your commute and you will be able to use spreadsheets more efficiently or create better presentations. Lynda is an excellent premium website that offers video tutorials to help you learn how to use various software applications from Photoshop to Excel and dozens more.

7. Download Apps

If you are a passenger or take the train to work, use the time to explore and look for apps that could help improve your job skills and performance. With so many apps out there, the act of searching through them can be a real drain at other times of day. Your commute is the perfect opportunity to scour the lists to find apps that will help you. For example, teachers can download Apple’s iTunes U and begin using it to set up courses. Edreach is another good place to start. Here you will find lists of free apps for professional development. There are also numerous apps that can help with time management to help you become more efficient.

8. Educate yourself

There are hundreds of free college courses available online on almost any subject you can think of. Interested in learning about entrepreneurship? Stanford provides free recordings of over a hundred entrepreneurs and business leaders who have given a talk as part of the Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Seminar. Past speakers have included Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and current Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. iTunes U and YouTube both have a vast collection of lectures from numerous colleges and universities.

9. Read Industry Magazines and Newspapers

It may seem dated, but print media is still a great source of information. If you belong to a professional organization or subscribe to a trade magazine relevant to your industry, your commute time is a great opportunity to read the materials that come with your membership. Stay up to date on trends and new information by reading during your commute. Even just reading a newspaper may help keep you knowledgeable about changes in your industry.

Despite simplicity of these ideas for commute they are still very effective and can go a long way towards boosting your career growth.

How do you put your ‘dead’ driving time to good use?

Do you have any additional ideas for commute?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Charles Sipe is Executive Editor of, a career resource for individuals interested in getting started in the accounting career field.