I ran into an old friend last week who told me she had just changed jobs and taken up employment in a different part of town.
I asked her, “How long does it take you to get to work now?”
She replied, “About 45 minutes on a good day. It’s not bad!”
Me (suppressing a cringe): “Yeah. That seems really do-able. Congrats!”
Translation: How in the world are you settling for spending more than 7 hours a week of your life cooped up in a tiny car, stuck in traffic, commuting to and from a bleak office cubicle where you have to sit on your ass for 8+ hours a day not burning any calories while doing data entry for a company that you wouldn’t bother memorizing their name except for the fact that you watch for you bi-weekly checks in the mail??
Okay, well, now would be a good time for my disclaimer…I am extremely happy for my friend who has found a job that she enjoys and is making decent money. But I’m writing this article for entrepreneurs who want to escape this corporate Deathstar that unwillingly sucks you into work every morning like an unavoidable tractor beam. Read on if you’re one of these people…
Here’s the deal—I used to be one of these commuters. In the morning, I’d sit in my car, weaving through traffic while my stomach churned thinking about the dreaded day ahead and my mind wandered to how good it would feel 10 hours later when I arrived back in my driveway. What happened in the middle of those two events—“work”—felt like it was inconveniently standing in the way of my true life and my entrepreneurial endeavors. My commute was just more time for me to contemplate the painful idea that an escape from this type of life seemed…well…impossible.
This is what I didn’t know though—your morning and evening commutes can be an EXTREMELY valuable time to help you grow your own business and escape the job world forever. In fact, that time in the car might be the only time you have by yourself for most of the day when there are very few distractions (emails, Facebook, Twitter, co-workers, family, friends, etc).
As an entrepreneur doing the side hustle with your business, you have to get good at time management really fast. That’s why utilizing your daily commute to and from your 9-to-5 job is so important. Instead of using that time to listen to your favorite music or replaying that last disagreement you had with your significant other, you want to use it to learn new things and expand your knowledge.
The truth is that businesses are built on IDEAS, not just hard work. It doesn’t always require a computer or a networking event or a sales pitch to grow your business. When you expand your thinking, cultivate new ideas, get fresh perspectives, or learn new skills, you ARE growing your business because you are growing as a person and as a leader. In other words, you are increasing your “human capital” which will serve you for the rest of your life, no matter what business or endeavor your find yourself in.
Here are 5 ways you can expand your thinking and discover new ideas during those precious hours spent in the car (or train or bus) commuting to work:
1st Way to Utilize Your Commute to Work: Listen to a good audio business book
There are hundreds of amazing (and some life-changing) business books on the market. Sometimes I wish that I could just instantly absorb all the knowledge from them through osmosis and use it to take my business to new heights. But actually, listening to the audio book version is fairly close. Check out Audible for the latest and greatest business books that you can listen to instantly on your iPod or other audio device.
2nd Way to Utilize Your Commute to Work: Listen to business podcasts
Another way to utilize your commute, if you’re not doing this already, is to listen to business podcasts. Podcasts can be a great tool to expand your knowledge and keep you on the cutting edge of business. Because podcasts are created and posted on a regular basis, they can keep you up-to-date with the most relevant ideas, newest applications, marketing methods, social media insights and other business tools (unlike books which might have dated information).
3rd Way to Utilize Your Commute to Work: Find a great audio business training course
Some of your best ideas will come from listening to business training courses. I’ve listened to courses by Ali Brown, Eden Pagan, David Siteman Garland, Naomi at IttyBiz and many others and always gained some invaluable nugget of info that takes my business to the next level. Some experts offer training courses for free, but many will sell a training course online if they have one. Choose a business expert that you know and love and invest in diving deeper and learning more from them.
4th Way to Utilize Your Commute to Work: Download the TEDtalks app
With the TEDtalks app, you can listen to the “world’s most fascinating people: education radicals, tech geniuses, medical mavericks, business gurus and music legends” anywhere and anytime right on your Smartphone. Sounds pretty good, right? This is an incredible way to cultivate new ideas and gain fresh perspectives for your business and for your life.
5th Way to Utilize Your Commute to Work: Sit quietly
Last, but definitely not least, another way to utilize your daily commute to the office is to sit quietly. How will that help you grow your business? Well, it’s difficult for new ideas to come to you when your mind is racing at a 1000 miles an hour. (And we already established that good businesses are built on IDEAS, so you need those ideas to be flowing.)
If you are constantly trying to absorb new information, working every minute, and diligently implementing new strategies, you’re not giving your brain the time it needs to catch up and you’ll end up spinning your wheels and getting burnt out (which will of course negatively affect your business). Take at least one day a week during your commute to sit quietly. For an added bonus—try to clear your mind or think about all the good things in your life (in other words, let your mind relax and take a break from problem solving or worry for a little bit…it will appreciate the vacation).
Do you have any other ways that you use your morning commute to help expand your thinking and grow your side business?