5 New Skills You Can Learn on Your Daily Commute

September 10, 2013

learn on commuteAt a minimum, most people find the daily commute to work to be a nuisance. At the extreme, it can be a major source of stress. But you can convert this into a virtue, by using your daily commute to learn new skills.

Those skills can be used to increase your income, help you move into a different career, or otherwise improve upon the quality of your life. Consider some of the ways that you can use your daily commute to make these changes happen.

1. Learn a new language.

You can sit in a classroom and learn a new language but – short of living in a foreign country – the best way to learn the language to the point of being fluent is to put yourself into an environment where it is being spoken all the time. You can do this with CDs, cassettes, and digital downloads that specialize in learning a foreign language.

The only way to truly learn anything, especially a new language, is through repetition. You can use your daily commute to surround yourself with the needed repetition. While your commute is getting you to and from work, it will also be helping you to learn a new language.

Learning a new language can be more than something fun to do. If you can become bilingual in a common foreign language, it can open up all kinds of employment opportunities for you in the future.

2. Learn how to get motivated.

We often think that some people are motivated and others aren’t, but it’s not always that simple. Many of the people who are motivated invest time and effort in making themselves that way. Motivational CDs, tapes, and digital downloads to your MP3 player can help you do that too. In fact, since you’ll be listening on the way to work, it’s the perfect time to increase your motivation for the coming workday.

Since life has a way of beating us down, you need to make an intentional effort in countering that trend. Filling your head with positive messages is a way to do that. And just as is the case with learning a foreign language, repetition has a way of making motivational messages become a part of your thought process. Once it does, you may find a lot of good things coming your way in work and life.

3. Become a better speaker.

Public speaking is one of the most feared activities in humanity. But there are so many professions where being a good speaker is a real asset. Though it isn’t possible to become a strong speaker overnight, you can begin listening to lessons that will instruct you on the mechanics of being a better speaker.

You can use your daily commute as an opportunity to practice public speaking. Though you obviously won’t have an audience listening to what you’re saying, you will be out “in public” – driving your car on crowded roads – while you are speaking. That will help you to get comfortable learning how to speak in front of people, as well as how to do it fluently. It is also a form of dress rehearsal for the real thing – of visualizing in your mind how it will look and feel.

If you use your commute – every day – to practice public speaking, you can’t help but get better at it. And when a real opportunity arises, you’ll be much better prepared for it.

4. Improve your sales technique.

Some are naturally born salespeople, but anyone can get better at it no matter what their skill level is. You can order training sets from well-known salespeople and listen to them and rehearse as you drive. Much of sales is a matter of technique, and you can learn that during your commute each day.

One other factor to consider here is that many more jobs are becoming more oriented toward sales. Most jobs today involve multiple responsibilities, and sales are increasingly becoming the responsibility of everybody in an organization. Instead of resisting the trend, embrace it – which is exactly what you can do on your daily commute.

5. Learning life skills.

Though we typically think of “skills” as referring to techniques to help us earn more money, they can also be used to improve the quality of our lives. Most of us have bad habits that we need to change, and you can use your daily commute to help you in the process.

Whatever the bad habit is – overeating, excess alcohol consumption, not getting enough exercise, or smoking – all major changes start in the brain. Before you can change an entrenched habit, you first have to convince yourself why you should. Like anything else you will learn in life, that will require a lot of repetition. You can help your cause by using your daily commute to provide the barrage of messages that you will need to change bad habits into good ones.

As an example, let’s say that you want to change your eating habits. You likely have two basic obstacles to making this change. The first is a lack of knowledge as to what you should be eating. The second is preparing your mind to accept the change and to know that is the right thing to do.

Audio lessons that you can listen to on your commute can help you achieve both objectives, and make it easier for you to bring about the needed life change.

There is a certain amount of “self-hypnosis” that is completely necessary in order to make any kind of change in your life, whether it is to learn something new or to change a bad habit. You can use your daily commute as a way to make that happen. And when you do, you’ll be converting drudgery into a virtue. And maybe – just maybe – you might start to view your commute in a less negative light.

How long does it take you to commute to work? How much time do you have to consume new information? Leave a comment!


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Kevin Mercadante is professional personal finance blogger, and the owner of his own personal finance blog, OutOfYourRut.com. He has backgrounds in both accounting and the mortgage industry. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and two teenage kids and can be followed on Twitter at @OutOfYourRut.

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