If you live in a city that is anything like mine, you probably have been stuck in traffic at some point in your life and know how frustrating the experience can be. Now that things have started returning to normal after the pandemic, traffic jams during rush hours are also back in most cities.
Being stuck in traffic can feel like the most stressful and unproductive part of your day. You become frustrated that you can’t do anything to make the cars ahead of yours move; you are anxious about being late to an appointment/work; you are annoyed by that driver in the car behind yours honking relentlessly, or just feel like you are wasting time.
But time spent in a traffic jam doesn’t have to be wasted or boring. Whether you usually drive yourself, have a chauffeur, take a cab, or use public transport, there are some productive things you can do when stuck in traffic instead of getting frustrated, being bored, idle, or sleeping during long trips. Below are some things you can do to make traffic less boring during your daily commutes;
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8 Productive Things to Do When Stuck in a Traffic Jam
- Read something or listen to an audiobook
If you love reading but never get the time to do it, you should seize the opportunity to use this extra time to read a book, magazine, blog, or any other reading materials that interest you. Reading a paperback book or e-book is easier when using public means of transport or when being driven by someone else, but you can still do it to pass time the time in traffic when driving yourself if it is not moving at all.
Another alternative is listening to an audiobook. Reading materials or listening to an audiobook are some of the most productive things you can do when stuck in traffic.
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- Listen to music or a podcast
Listening to a podcast or your favorite songs are other productive things to do when stuck in traffic. Studies indicate that listening to music can help you relax and lift your mood when feeling frustrated and stressed.
If you can, use noise-canceling headphones to get rid of distractions and noise. You can then fully immerse yourself in the experience and focus on something else instead of your immediate situation of being stuck.
Additionally, singing along to the music is a great way to entertain yourself when stuck in a traffic jam, especially if you are driving yourself.
- Plan your day
Use the time stuck in traffic productively by preparing your to-do list and planning out your day. If you got stuck while on your way to work, use this time to write down all the tasks you need to accomplish when you get to the office and organize them in order of importance and urgency. Set realistic goals for what you want to achieve that day.
When you arrive at your workplace, you will be ready to start the day and get things done because you already have a schedule. Preparing your next day’s to-do list and scheduling your tasks are some of the productive things you can do if you get stuck in a traffic jam when going home from work. Remember to include the tasks you couldn’t complete today and prioritize them.
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- Read your emails
If you are struggling to find what to do when stuck in traffic, you don’t have to wait to get to work to start working. You can be productive when stuck in traffic by using this time to catch up on work and any other tasks you can perform remotely.
Reading and responding to your emails, assigning different types of emails to appropriate labels, unsubscribing from newsletters you no longer read, and deleting old irrelevant emails are productive things you can do when stuck in traffic.
- Catch up with your family and friends
Modern-day living is very hectic. We are always busy and hardly ever get any time to spend with family or catch up with friends. Calling or texting your family and friends is an excellent way to keep yourself occupied when stuck in traffic. They are your support system, and you should always look for opportunities to maintain your connections with them.
- Learn a new Language
Do you have any language learning apps installed on your phone? It’s time to use them. Learning a new language is another way to spend time productively when stuck in traffic.
Always remember to bring your earphones or headphones with you whenever you are traveling because you never know when you might need them to listen to music or learn a new language.
Some aspects of learning a new language such as pronunciations or saying the words out loud might be difficult to practice when using public transport, but you can easily do them if you are driving yourself or using a cab.
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Networking is one of the most productive things you can do when stuck in traffic. If you are using public transport, you probably are seated next to another passenger, and this is an opportunity to network.
Striking up a conversation and getting to know them even though you might never meet again is a good way to pass the time and occupy yourself when stuck in traffic. You get a chance to meet new people, network, and share ideas.
- Play games
Playing games on your phone or filling out crossword puzzles and Sudoku are examples of productive things you can do when stuck in traffic. These games keep your brain young and improve your cognitive functioning. The ideal games to play are those that stretch your thinking and improve your memory. Playing games is a great way to entertain yourself when stuck in a traffic jam while also challenging your brain.
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Other productive things you can do when stuck in traffic include, assigning tasks to your team, making work calls, watching DIY Youtube channels to learn something new, publishing posts on social media, organizing your wallet/purse, decluttering the glove compartment and cleaning out your car, among many others.
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Getting stuck in traffic doesn’t have to suck so much. You can use this time to work, catch up with friends, entertain yourself, and be productive. Of course, when going home from work there are times you might feel too tired to be productive, and it is okay to take a nap or just do nothing. Nevertheless, do try doing the above things to keep yourself busy the next time you are stuck in a traffic jam.
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