Old Dogs, New Tricks

A blog for non-traditional students

Don’t Waste Your Time Breathing Exhaust Fumes!

Not everyone has a long commute to school, but a lot of non-traditionals are commuters and given that we are already under a time crunch having all those extra responsibilities, it seems like a shame to waste the drive time twiddling our thumbs.  So I poked around on the web and found a few ideas about how to be more productive while you’re sitting in gridlock.  Some of them I’m sure you’ve thought of, or maybe even do, but there were some interesting twists on the tried-and-true activities that I thought might help.

  1. Learn new skills or a new language by listening to audio CDs/tapes.  Considering the amount of time you spend in your car – for me, it’s over an hour each day of class, which this quarter comes out to about five hours a week!
  2. If you can’t bear to add another educational experience, look into books on tape/CD instead.  I know that I don’t have nearly enough time to do any pleasure reading and that when I do have a moment to spare, there’s nothing I want less to do than read another book.
  3. Grab a bite to eat!  So, I’ll confess that healthy food is low on my list of priorities, but even if it is important to you, there are all sorts of options to consider.  Just grabbing a piece of fruit on the way out the door in the morning can ease time crunches, or if you need to grab dinner plenty of fast-food chains offer healthier options, like chicken wraps, that aren’t too messy to eat on the go.  Just skip Taco Bell unless you’re feeling really daring – inevitably, the day they put extra filling in your tacos and burritos is the day you’re going to eat on your way to an important conference or presentation – blop!
  4. Of course, there’s always the old stand-by: radio.  If you find disc jockeys annoying or run into that mysterious blanket of commercials that manages to cover all the stations you like, try our local NPR – 91.7 FM – or talk radio – 700 AM, 1160 AM, 1230 AM, 550AM – stations.  Or instead, you could just scan through the stations, and try a genre you wouldn’t usually listen to – there are plenty of options in Cincinnati.
  5. Get a voice recorder and use it to plan your day.  Reciting your to-do lists or capturing that great idea you get staring at a billboard can be a lifesaver.  Or, if you are a closet karaoke singer, just use the recorder as a microphone while you croon your way through the drive home.
  6. Because fiddling with technical gadgets while you’re driving isn’t always safe, there is an alternative to the recorder.  You can use your cell phone and http://jott.com/default.aspx to send voice mails that will then be converted into text messages for you by the site!  A personal transcription service, what a novel idea!
  7. Another tech-savvy idea involves using your MP3 player to catch up on podcasts.  Download a couple in the morning before you leave your house and you’ll have your own personal talk radio to listen to.  Even better, combine this idea with the idea of practicing a foreign language and download a podcast in Spanish, French or your preferred language – just make sure you don’t concentrate so hard on comprehending what’s being said that you lose track of the traffic around you.
  8. While I think it’s sort of futile to try and relax while you are facing bumper-to-bumper traffic, I did come across one fun little suggestion.  Splurge and buy yourself a car seat massager, either a battery-powered one or one that plugs into your carjack.

I also found a site that offered some safety tips for commuting.  Here’s a few basic suggestions, but for the full list go look at the site.

  1. Plan your route – make sure you take well-traveled, well-lit roads, even if that means adding a little bit of time to your drive.
  2. Keep your vehicle well-maintained.
  3. Have a decent spare tire, extra oil and a gallon of water in your car – for me, these are in the trunk.  More importantly, make sure you know how to change a tire, check and add oil and where to add water if your car overheats.
  4. Drive with your doors locked.  This might seem like something your mom would say, but given that crime seems to be on the rise around campus, it’s better to be safe than sorry – okay, that was definitely the mother in me. 🙂
  5. Get gas early in the day at a station that is busy and well-attended.  Make sure you are in line-of-sight of the attendant if you do have to stop after dark.

If you want some more tips, check this wiki, this article or this list – there will be some overlap and some adjustments you might need to make since they are mostly tooled towards work commuters, but it’s a good place to start.

Have any tips of your own?  Feel free to share!

*** Danielle


February 13, 2009 Posted by | Student Life | 1 Comment