Driving is a task. You may not think about it much, but we spend 101 minutes every day driving.
If you’re the one behind the wheel, driving is your primary task at the moment. Like any task, the amount of preparation and attention you give it will affect how quickly and efficiently you finish.
Here are ten tips to help you drive more productively.
- Coalesce your trips. Whenever possible, reduce the number of trips you need to take. Batch errands. Shop online and save yourself the trip. Don’t blindly drive across town to save a few bucks; the savings might not be worth your time.
- Turn on Do Not Disturb while driving. Your iPhone’s Do Not Disturb mode is useful any time you need to focus on the task at hand—like driving! If you’re using iOS 11, this can happen automatically when you get into the car. If you haven’t upgraded yet, just ask Siri to hold your calls.
- Check current traffic. Even when you know where you’re going, it might be worth getting directions. Apple Maps, Google Maps, and Waze all update their directions to take current traffic conditions into account. If there’s been an accident along the way, they can reroute you, saving you a considerable amount of time.
- Give yourself plenty of time to get there. Tell your calendar where you need to be (not just when) and let it help you get there. If you put a location on your events, your phone can tell you when it’s time to leave. For longer trips, block out extra travel time on your calendar.
- If you’re not 10 minutes early, you’re late. You don’t want to walk in right as the clock chimes the hour. You might think you’re being efficient by not wasting time waiting for the meeting to start, but you’re just starting yourself off on the wrong foot. You’re out of breath, you’ve given the impression that you cut things close, and you’ve eliminated any margin for error. Plus, all the good seats are taken.
- Keep your cool behind the wheel. If you let traffic get to you, you’re not going to be able to focus after you reach your destination. Instead of being productive, you’ll have imaginary arguments running through your head as you polish the delivery of that mot juste. Cortisol has a half-life of over an hour, so it’s easier to stay calm than to calm down.
- Yes, you can drive 55. A study by Pizza Hut showed that driving 10 mph over the speed limit only saved you about 30 seconds on a cross-town trip. If you get pulled over, you’re going to lose more than 30 seconds. Get in an accident, a lot more.
- Learn the voice controls. If your car has built-in voice controls, learn them. Learn how to use hands-free Siri. Your goal should be to do whatever you need to do without touching your phone, let alone taking your eyes off the road. (If it’s so urgent and important that you need to pick up your phone, you can pull over to take care of it.)
- Read while you roll. Listen to audiobooks while you drive and you can learn the equivalent of a college degree every four years. If you have company, take frequent breaks to discuss. Or just enjoy the conversation. Let someone else take notes of important insights or take a quick note using Siri.
- Be ready for the unexpected. When you get stranded or get a flat tire, what you carry in your trunk could be the difference between a minor inconvenience and spending a cold night in your car.
Driving is like any other task. You can be prepared and get it done efficiently and effectively, or you can wing it and waste your time.
And then there are the drives where the driving is the activity. It’s the desired outcome, not just a necessary step towards another outcome. You still need to plan ahead (put gas in the tank), but the joy comes from the journey. Sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.