By the time I turned 15 and got my learner’s permit, I had checked out every book at the library on how to drive and grabbed every pamphlet the DMV had on the rules of the road. I was ready to get behind the wheel.
I had bought into the teenage vision of what it means to have your driver’s license: Autonomy. Adventure. Driving around town with your friends, windows down, stereo blasting the latest hit. In a word… freedom.
It’s a vision of driving that many of us never lose. We become more mature and responsible, but one belief never changes: the car is for listening to whatever is on the radio.
That time in the car is a valuable resource to learn, grow, and develop yourself into an incredible person. Your daily commute could transform your life.
According to a study at Harvard, we spend 101 minutes a day driving. Some days more, some days less. On average, 101 minutes a day.
Now let’s do some rough calculations. I like to call this napkin math.
In a week, then, we spend 707 minutes driving. That’s almost 12 hours every week that you can read books, listen to podcasts, and learn.
Most of the non-fiction books on personal development I’ve purchased from Audible come in at 7—9 hours, unabridged. (Abridged editions are 3–4.) Fiction books vary. (The Harry Potter series ranges from 8½ hours to over 27.)
You can probably average a book a week.
A college class meets for three hours a week for 16–18 weeks. That’s 50 hours of instruction. It will take you 4–5 weeks to spend that long in the car. (Remember: napkin math.) In a month, you can take the equivalent of a college class in your car.
A college degree is 120 credit hours. One class takes a month, so you can learn the equivalent of a college degree in less than four years. Just for listening to high-quality books, podcasts, and lectures while you drive instead of what’s on the radio. Productivity and sales legend Brian Tracy refers to this as your personal “university on wheels”.
Are you going to remember everything you hear? No. You don’t remember everything you studied in college, either.
You’ll read some books multiple times, learning something new each time. Think of this as taking advanced classes, like Getting Things Done I–IV.
Your daily commute may not seem like much. Running errands, even less. Step back and look at how the time adds up.
You could learn the equivalent of a Bachelor’s degree every four years for the rest of your life. Imagine what that would do to your mind! What kind of contribution could you make at work? What example would you set for your kids? You could be the most thoughtful, well-read, and interesting person you know.
Or you could drive around town banging your head to “Bohemian Rhapsody”. It’s up to you.