I posted this on my blog and so far have only gotten a couple of responses. I wanted to know if anyone had some suggestions for me on how to better spend my time on my commute. I plan to actually do the winning suggestion. Here's a copy of the blog post:
I waste 100 minutes a day and I need your help to be more productive.
Everyone has this problem to some degree. My daily commute is roughly 45-50 minutes one way each day. Granted I am driving so I really canít do much in my car. I just feel like Iím wasting time every day.
For the record, the reason I have such a long commute is because my husband attends the University of Washington and is studying graduate-level physics. I drive in the opposite direction to get to work. Moving closer to my work is not an option because it makes his commute longer (and he already spends roughly 60 hours a week on his studies and research). If anything we are considering moving closer to Seattle because he would have a better bus ride to school.
So let the suggestions flow. No idea is too silly or difficult for me to consider. Currently I listen to two NPR stations on the way to and from work (my commute straddles two station boundaries). Sometimes I call relatives or friends during my commute. It should be obvious that I should be able to retain my driving ability while doing whatever it is you suggest.
Iíll post a follow up with suggestions sometime next week.
Just out of curiousity, I know you moved to the Seattle area, but what environs are you commuting from and to?
Everett area to Mount Vernon.
I'm reminded of the Simpson's Episode where Homer is watching Public Television, and starts hitting the TV, while yelling "Be More Interesting!"
Yeah basically, SSDD. Also my commute straddles two stations' coverage areas. I get half of a cool program and half of a lame program, or I get half of a program and the other station plays the same half I just listened to. It sucks.
I have an MP3 player, not an iPod. But yeah, that's a good suggestion.
So far I really like the foreign language one the best. It would be nice to learn Spanish. But, I just saw a job opening for a paper not 10 minutes from my house. I'm going to apply for it so hopefully this question will be moot. Not putting THAT part on my blog, of course, just in case the bosses read it (and everything I post I assume is read by them).
My commute varies between 20 minutes and 45 minutes each way, depending on traffic and whether the padres or chargers are playing at home.
I use my commute to mentally review the status of my projects, consider alternate approaches to solving technical problems and draft correspondence to my user community and management about upcoming events.
Spending half an hour before work thinking through exactly what needs to be said to get the admiral to approve a project makes typing up the actual emails (and powerpoints) much easier because I've already thought through the arguments.
I guess what I'm suggesting is that, as a journalist, you could best use that time by mentally reviewing your current stories, thinking through the outline and determining how to best convey the information you need to.
I do what nymm does, 30-45min morning commute I use as the calm before the storm and gather what needs to be acomplished how to acomplish it, and what projects I need others to acomplish for me.
My commutes during the day from project to project I vary, listen to some talk radio, If someone would pick up tom lycos again here I'd enjoy my afternoon commute home. Though I've warmed up listening to some financial talk like Rob Black and Dave Ramsey.
No pleasure, no rapture, no exquisite sin greater... than central air. -Dogma
Do what I do! Sleep at work more often. Crash out behind your desk set the alarm to when the janitor comes, get up, change your clothes, brush your teeth, pat down your hair, grab some coffee, and rock! LEts see just once a month of sleeping at work would save like 20 hours a year.
Though on a side note I never did it on a day I had to teach. That prolly isnt wise. Odd fact: 4 hours of sleeping by your desk is worth 8 hours of sleeping in your bed for waking up ready to go. I have no idea why.
Probably doesn't apply as much to Kinare, but I also tend to schedule meetings during my commute if I have to attend but don't really care about them. Especially if I'm going up to the oxnard office. The 3 hour drive goes by much quicker if you're pretending to pay attention to the business line's opinion on database software.
Personally, I think learning a new language is best. I took up that challenge with my daughter (we are both learning French, and should she be fluent in it after 1 year, I'm taking her to Quebec to see it in practice)
It really is hard to find the time to add an hour here and there, but driving is the perfect time, as most drivers are distracted by cellphones, with a language CD you get into an accident, you can scream about how the other person was on the cell phone, yet you were just driving.
 I realize Spanish is more prominent in my area, but screw prominent over fun. French has a lot of soft sounds that are easy to hear and say, where as Spanish has lots of harsh sounds that don't roll (wow a pun there) off your tongue.
Besides, having friends who are French speaking helps tremendously.
Warp the space time continuum so that both your work and your husband's job are adjacent to your house.
(What? It's no less realistic than other suggestions in the thread!)
When my husband was in the Navy, we moved a lot. I was still in college so I moved with him. A lot. I went to three different colleges, and it was time to move yet again. I had called a college in Virginia ahead of time to make sure all of my transfer credits would take. I only had a year left of college, and I wanted to make sure that I didn't have to take three years of classes to get a degree, because some colleges do that.
So I get to Virginia, I talked with the college, and I found out the admissions officer had LIED TO ME! She told me on the phone that I had to take a year's worth of classes, and yet when I got there, I was told I had to take 2.5 years!! I was so pissed.
Long story short, I ended up living in Charleston, S.C. attending college there, while my husband stayed in Virginia Beach in the Navy. That sucked. A lot. But I finessed my schedule so I only had classes on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I drove up to Virginia every single weekend to see him for an entire semester. (He was out to sea for my final semester so I only drove up once every other month to sweep out the dead palmetto bugs, ew.)
Often during that drive, I would curse the scientists working on cures for cancer and will them to invent teleportation. It would've saved me 16 hours each weekend anyway.
or do what I do on long trips and try and solve complex math problems for fun (complex being relative to your education in math, essentially find a rule you don't remember that well and try and solve a problem based on it!)
Not necessarily impossible while driving, but somewhat less safe than some other suggestions.
Suggestions like books on tape, or satellite radio are all well and good, but only if you're looking for entertainment. Since you appear to be concerned about wasting time that could be spent more productively, so far the most popular suggestion is to learn a language on CD. Although I'd be concerned that if you start to pay enough attention to get the most out of your lessons, you may not be paying enough attention to the road. And if you just listen passively, you probably won't learn enough to really productively use the time.
I'd second the idea of drafting your schedule or planning correspondence or what not while you drive, since that's some thing you can easily switch off and on as the demands of the road allow. Planning out your day or evening is always one of those annoying little activities because it takes time out of your day to figure out how you're going to go about your day. Might as well use the free minutes of the commute to do that.
If commuting via a different method was available (train, subway, carpool with people who don't want to talk to you, etc.), I'd suggest doing that (even if you might extend your commuting time) just to be able to have your full attention to dedicate to whatever constructive pursuit you fancy.
I'd have to agree with getting some podcasts. Have an interest? I guarentee there are at least half a dozen podcasts about it. I have a really short commute, but I listen to mine at my desk. Really makes the time feel like it flies by.