Enhance Your Productivity While Driving

Reading While Driving

I took this photo without looking — I promise! Otherwise, it would have come out better.

I love writing about deep topics. Sometimes though, it’s the “common sense” advice that needs repeating. We hear it so often that we brush it off and never take it seriously.

While driving on the highway yesterday, a car pulled up parallel to me. After a few moments, I noticed something out of my peripheral vision.

The driver was doing 65 and reading a novel. And not just reading, but engrossed.

For anyone who’s driven route 128 in Massachusetts during rush hour, you know how dangerous this is. There are sporadic pockets of traffic where it goes from full speed to full stop, bumper-to-bumper. It happened twice just on that drive.

What scares me most is the fact that I see this almost every time I’m on the road. Not the book reading specifically (that’s on another level), but people absorbed in their smartphones — texting, tweeting, e-mailing, and even browsing the web.

Try this experiment. On your next highway drive, use your peripheral vision (eyes on the road!) to glance at the cars that pass or slow down next to you.

When I first tried it, I figured I’d see maybe a couple instances over the course of a busy 20 minute drive. I soon lost count and it blew my mind.

I know I sound like every other annoying person who’s told you “don’t text and drive!”. We’ve all heard it from our parents, passengers, and endless commercials. But before you brush me off too, have you ever actually read the texting and driving statistics?

No one has. I hadn’t until about 30 minutes ago. Here’s what I found out:

Those facts are staggering.

Sadly, I have been guilty of this atrocity myself. And it was only after a close friend totaled his car while texting (and luckily walked out alive) that I decided to change my habits.

I now use my time in the car to be productive and improve myself. Below are some of my ideas that you can try as well.

  1. Learn from audiobooks. I was skeptical of how much I would retain from them but I’m a believer now. I’ve listened to dozens of non-fiction books and mix in fiction as well. If you’re a Neil Gaiman fan, I recommend the BBC Radio version of Neverwhere. It’s got brilliant actors such as James McAvoy, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Christopher Lee.
  2. Improve your speaking voice. Roger Love’s vocal CDs transformed the way I talk. They helped me sound more clear, confident, and project with power. They’re great because you can use the warm-up training CD without annoying your roommates or family.
  3. Set goals and plan your day (or the following day). We’re always in a rush or constant stimulus mode. The drive allows me to think clearly organize everything I need to get done. Then once I’m settled in, I don’t waste any time and push through my tasks.
  4. Brainstorm ideas. James Altucher recommends always carrying a waiter’s pad to generate new ideas — both good and bad. The more you train that thinking muscle, the better your ideas become.

    Since you can’t do that in a car I take a different approach. I set my phone to record before I leave my destination and spit out what’s on my mind. For me that includes:

    • Fresh topics to write about — some of my best articles have come from this.
    • How to improve my site and other entrepreneurial ideas.
    • Ways to challenge my comfort zone for the week.
    • New people I can introduce myself to or who I can say thanks to. This has built me countless connections and relationships which provide immense value in life.
    • What I can praise myself for. Showing yourself gratitude and recognizing your accomplishments has been proven to increase happiness and self-esteem.
  5. Connect with your passengers. If you’re driving with other people, focus on having good conversation with them. It’s obvious but I’ve been in so many cars where the driver is more invested in their phone than the people next to them. Share a funny story, sing to some tunes, or play a game together.

Do me a favor. Commit to not using your cellphone while driving for one whole week. Instead, commit to being productive in your car.

Once I did, I saw how useful that time could be. And to my amazement the world didn’t end when I waited 20 minutes to check my phone.

What tricks do you use to be more productive in the car?