There has to be a better way!
1. Learn something new.
Most major universities offer pre-recorded lectures for free on iTunes! If you're not sure where to start, take a peek at iTunes U, where you'll find a chance to listen to courses at some of the most prestigious schools in the country -- for free! Some include a video component, but most all are easy to simply listen to while driving. Try out some favorites like Harvard's "Science & Cooking" course, MIT's "The Early Universe," or Stanford's collection of Continuing Studies Public Lectures, which include subjects like "Celebrating Robert Frost," "Guns in America," and even a class on Sherlock Holmes.
2. Make a challenge of listening to the audiobook of every celebrity memoir released in the past ten years, in order.
This list of celeb-fueled titles makes for a good jumping-off point. Nothing beats Tina Fey's soothing audiobook voice serving as your morning spirit guide on the way to work.
3. Find a new favorite podcast and binge-listen.
Who needs to listen to a depressing morning news broadcast when you could hear your latest audio obsession? If you're new to the world of podcasts, try some of these addictive series to get you hooked on the medium:
•Serial, the now-infamous exploration of a 1999 murder case told by hosts who are figuring things out as they go along, just like their listeners
•Dear Sugar Radio, a live version of the popular advice column hosted by writers Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond
•The Savage Lovecast, lots of sex-related real talk with bits of humor and politics sprinkled in, hosted by sex columnist Dan Savage
•This Is Actually Happening, a profound series of first-person stories exploring the experiences that change us
•Reply All, an engaging exploration of how the internet shapes modern life
•Another Round, a brilliant grab bag of pop culture, social issues, race, gender, and of course, alcohol, hosted by Buzzfeed writers Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton
•Invisibilia, an exploration of the intangible factors, like beliefs and emotions, that dictate our lives
•Death, Sex & Money, an intimate series of interviews that digs into topics usually left out of polite conversation
4. Get your solo karaoke on.
When else can you practice "It's All Coming Back To Me Now" in the full glory it was intended for? Luckily for us, we live in a world where playlists are made specifically to honor the most over-karaoked songs in history (thanks technology!). Check out this list or this one for more inspiration, or jam along with these Spotify playlists made exclusively for car singing. Crank it up and try to harmonize with the singers!
5. Break out Rosetta Stone and practice a new language.
This is the one time when it's totally acceptable to talk to yourself! If Rosetta Stone feels overwhelming, try another much-loved language app like FluentU, Memrise, Busuu, or Duolingo.
6. Squeeze in some meditating.
Alone time in the car is the perfect chance to practice your deep breathing, find a little oneness with the universe, and maybe even come up with a sweet mantra for the day ahead. Just don't close your eyes! If you need a little guidance, learn a thing or two from this wise meditation guy taking a zen drive through the mountains. As long as you're not driving and are just hanging out in the passenger seat (safety first!), take your zen dedication to the next level with quality meditation apps like The Mindfulness App, Buddhify, and Headspace.
7. Play the license plate game.
Playing it as a grown-up who's not supposed to find it as fun anymore actually feels a tiny bit rebellious.
8. Make a game plan for your day.
Decide your biggest goal for the work day and what you're going to tackle first when you get to the office. Take your jumbled mental to-do list and choose just three things to prioritize above all the others for the rest of the day, even if you feel like you have million more things to accomplish on top of them. Focus only one those things, like they're touchstones for everything else on the list. Everything sorta kinda feels like it could fall into place now, doesn't it? Maybe just a tiny bit? Ahhh.
9. Play some super chill jams to mellow yourself out.
Like the songs on this ~good vibes only~ playlist.
10. Or play some TOTALLY PUMPED songs instead.
Like the ones on this ~extremely energetic~ playlist!
11. And if you ride the subway, play a smartphone that actually makes you feel smart.
Instead of staring dead-eyed at a game like Candy Crush or Angry Birds (my favorite is one called Kitty Collector, which is exactly what it sounds like), try a pastime designed to make you sharper, like Fit Brains Trainer or Lumosity.
12. Brainstorm on a really big problem.
Driving is a good distraction-free time to turn over something that's really been bugging you lately and see if you can't come up with a solution. Just remember: as bleak as it seems, no traffic jam lasts forever. Chin up!