I drive over 50 miles a day getting to and from work. My husband and I live in a small town northwest of Oklahoma City, but my office is smackdab in the middle of downtown OKC. So every weekday morning I wake up and make that drive. Some days it takes 25 minutes. Some days it takes an hour. Those days? SUCK.
Sometimes it's my own fault. I overslept and left later than usual (if you are a commuter you know that just five minutes can make a huge difference) so I end up in the middle of rush hour traffic. Sometimes there is a wreck; other times they've moved the construction zone which throws everyone into a fit of chaos and confusion.
On the awful days, it can seem unbearable. The constant stop and go. The people who insist that cutting and out of lanes will get them to their destination quicker. Spoiler alert: it rarely does. In stand-still traffic, I've found your best bet is just to pick a lane and stick with it (unless there is a wreck in that particular lane). Otherwise I am constantly worrying if I picked the wrong lane and I become the person darting in and out of lanes. Only to end up exactly where I would've been if I'd just stayed put. On those days, I have to come up with something to make it better.
So here's what I've found:
- Pray - Nothing like praying to take your mind off of the craziness outside your window. I pray for family and friends, for the impatient drive honking behind me, for whatever the latest natural disaster is...praying is a great reminder that there's a great big world out there, and in the scheme of it all, this time stuck in traffic isn't too bad after all.
- Listen to Podcasts - Learning about Queen Victoria or the latest productivity apps makes an unusually long commute feel less miserable to me. At least I'm learning something while I go ten miles an hour down a congested interstate. Learn more about my favorite podcasts here.
- Listen to Broadway Music - Cheesy? Maybe. But belting out the lyrics to Aida or Wicked sure makes sitting on I-40 seem more interesting. I have a Spotify playlist that I turn to in times of need. It starts with Aida, then goes to Wicked, Phantom of the Opera, My Fair Lady, Les Miserables, Guys and Dolls, and Oklahoma. Thank God, I've never had to listen to all of them on a commute. True story: Aida got me through late night drives home my freshman year at OU. The soundtrack was the perfect length for the drive from Ada to Norman, and singing until I was hoarse kept me awake. Of course, this is really only an option when the windows are up and no one is in the car with me. Because as much as I love to sing, I am not so great at it. If Broadway doesn't do it for you, figure out what does!
- Just Exit - Some days nothing will make that commute better, so the best thing to do is exit and go a different way. Or stop for a drink or an impromptu shopping trip. This obviously is a better option on the commute home, but sometimes it's worth being a little late to just stop and calm down. Some mornings I end up stopping at a donut shop and picking up a dozen donuts for the office because some idiot tried to run me off NW Expressway.
And here's what NOT to do:
Really, do I need to explain why you shouldn't read a magazine on your commute? Didn't think so.
So those are my go-to options when my commute is driving me bonkers. Do you have a crappy commute too? What do you do to make it better?