No one likes to travel to and from work and feel like they’re wasting hours of their life on the road. Admittedly, some days are better than others. Less people are riding the train. Traffic flows non-stop all the way. Your favorite songs play on the radio. Life is good. But then there are the days, when commuting stinks. All of this can affect how you walk into work, how you unwind afterwards, and how you ready yourself for the next day. Whether you’re in a car, on a train, or rolling to work on a bus, here’s how you can shorten your commute, enjoy the ride, and make good use of those hours.

Use a traffic app

If you’re in a car, Google Maps has a great traffic layer you can use for realtime updates on traffic conditions. It’s remarkably accurate. Check it out before you leave or while you’re on your way to see the best route to take. Waze is another solid app. Its traffic feature is similar to Google’s, but it also allows user to update conditions on the road, so you can see where accidents have occurred and where police officers are perched on the side of the road, ready to check your speed.

 

 

Create a killer playlist

Commuting’s a little sweeter with great music. You have lots of good options for stitching together your favorite songs. You could put together a mix CD, but it’s not 1998 anymore, and there are faster, easier ways. If you’re in a car with a relatively new stereo, you can play music directly from your phone using an audio cable, USB, Bluetooth, or a wireless device.

The Spotify app is great for streaming music. You can search for songs and drop them into a playlist in a matter of seconds. It does cost $9.99 a month to use the mobile app, but that’s a very reasonable price for access to just about any song you can think of, any time of day. There are also free apps like Pandora, Slacker Radio, and Rdio that let you create radio stations based on your favorite bands, songs, and styles of music.

 

Look, no hands

Start reclaiming your commute hours by making calls to friends, family, and coworkers to catch up. Nothing makes the road fly by like good conversation. Good hands-free headsets are relatively inexpensive. Bluetooth works very well, but if you’re concerned about radio waves, there are plenty of headphones and wired earpieces available with built-in mics. One word of caution: If you’re on a bus or a train, it’s a good idea to be mindful of your voice volume, as to not attract any cringe-faced stares.

 

Download a file-sharing app

Sometimes a public transit commute can be a good thing. I know that sounds crazy at first, but it can give you a little extra time to complete projects, get insight from coworkers, and plan for what’s ahead. If you need approval on a file you’re working on, you can easily share documents, and images with a good file-sharing app. Some apps, like Huddle, come with collaboration tools, showing you projects and files that are relevant to you before you’ve even had a chance to think about it—which makes your workday a whole lot easier. Some are more secure than others, so it’s a good idea to look at which ones provide the level of security your company needs.

 

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