They make time for personal growth
Instead of defaulting to checking work email, Vanderkam recommends asking yourself, “‘What do I want to accomplish? What can I do now that I’m having trouble making time for elsewhere?’” she says. “Use your commute for personal time.” She frequently hears people miss reading for fun, and recommends audio or e-books. “You can ‘read’ the entire Odyssey in three weeks,” Vanderkam notes. (If you’re not doing this while driving, your commute could be toxic.)
They use the time as exercise
One Archives of Internal Medicine study a few years ago found that the 16 percent of commuters who walked or biked to work were less likely to be overweight and had healthier levels of blood pressure, triglycerides, and insulin. Work may improve too: In one British study, employees reported being more productive on days they exercised compared to days they didn’t. If you can only swing it once a week, that’s better than never. For rail or bus riders, get off a few stops early for a bonus 15-minute stroll.
They take their time getting from A to B
It sounds counterintuitive—wouldn’t you want your travel time to be as short as possible? Productivity coach Hillary Rettig has a surprisingly different perspective. “When people are commuting, they’re most likely rushing,” she told FastCompany.com, and that act will lower happiness and increase stress. “Leaving early is empowering,” says Rettig. “You have more of a sense of control. For example, you can stop and pick up coffee on the way if you wish. You’ll immediately feel a sense of relief.” (These are the daily habits of naturally productive people.)