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5 Ways to Use Your Commute to Grow Your Career

About 143 million Americans are commuting to and from work every day, and most people spend their commutes listening to music, sleeping, or relaxing, but what if you used that time to get ahead at work? Think about it, if your commute is a half hour each way, that’s an extra hour a day, five extra hours a week, 20 extra hours a month, and 260 extra hours a year….and imagine if your commute is longer!

If you’re spending any time in transit to and from work, consider doing these five things to advance your career:

Study your industry. If you take a train or ride the bus, read the newspaper, read a book on leadership, or read industry publications. Write down ideas you get or questions you can ask your manager. It shows them you’re going beyond what’s asked, and showing interest in improving. It doesn’t go unrecognized. However, the employee shouldn’t just tell their manager they are reading it just so they’re aware. Instead, bring up the information when the conversation is relevant. Managers recognize it, and your peers will see you as more of a leader.

Plan your day. Write a to-do list for the day, and plan what to tackle first so you can hit the ground running when you get to work. Take it a step further and run through (in your head) any conversations you know you’re going to have that day, whether it’s a tough one-on-one conversation, a voicemail or a presentation.

Converse. If you see the same people every evening, don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation. Chances are they are commuting from work, too, and you will learn more by talking to others, especially if they are in a different industry. This also helps to develop a key attribute for any role: communication skills. Being able to maintain a conversation is a necessary skill for any role.

Listen to podcasts. Pick 2-3 podcasts to listen to on your commute, and it doesn’t have to be something in your industry, anything! Learn about history, science, politics, economics, or art and theater. You’d be surprised how often these things will come up in conversation. You can also use what you learn to get new ideas to bring back to your manager and your team.

Reflect on the day. Think about the day and all that happened. Is there anything you would have done differently? A conversation with a coworker or a manager? Was a presentation the best it could have been? If not, why? What could you have done differently? Did a coworker look overwhelmed but you didn’t have the opportunity to ask them what was wrong? It’s not too late to text them. These are things that someone can forget to reflect on because they’re moving so quickly in the day, but are important to think about and apply for next time.

 

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