Opinion
Teaching Profession Opinion

Combat Your Morning Commute and Ensure a Good Day

By Starr Sackstein — September 29, 2016 4 min read
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You know what I love more than anything when I wake up in the dark when I start my day?

A sea of brake lights coloring the morning darkness, shedding light before the sun rises.

Getting to my new job is a trek. In terms of miles, only 26 but when heading toward New York City, even at 5:30 in the morning, 26 miles takes approximately an hour and don’t even get me started on the afternoon commute, that can often be double that.

The way we start each day can have a profound impact on our ability to teach or lead well and therefore an enjoyable morning commute can greatly assist in our ability to stay cheerful.

Since sleep patterns can already be disrupted in an effort to wake up early enough to leave the house by 5:30 (which sometimes includes waking your children at 5:15, making sure they’re out of bed and won’t go back to sleep), ensuring a positive ride, albeit likely filled with traffic, is essential.

So instead of allowing blood pressure to go through the roof while blindly staring at brake lights, try to make the time as productive as it can be without doing anything dangerous that would impair your ability to travel effectively.

Here are some tips:


  • Given the variety of ways to get to work, Waze is a great app for traffic that will get you the best route to wherever you’re going. It’s GPS is up to the minute because it’s social and will reroute you if an accident happens or a traffic jam due to unforeseen hazards. Aside from being accurate, it will take you ways you’ve never been before, exposing you to all parts of neighborhoods and cities you thought you already knew. So not only will you get to work efficiently, you will learn new routes to use in the future. It also has an assortment of fun voices to choose from if you’d like a British person to be giving you directions or even the Terminator.
  • A long time ago I got into the habit of listening to NPR in the morning. As a journalism teacher it was an easy to know the news of the day and be able to bring that into my classroom. The reporting is fair and balanced and always interesting and in short formats so as to cover as much as possible. It’s a great idea to listen to NPR if you’re interested in current event. They also have an app now that plays podcasts from older shows, so it’s a great time to catch up on current and archived shows.
  • Speaking of podcasts, sitting in your car is a great time to catch up on your favorite podcasts like Harry Potter and the Sacred Text or In Our Time by BBC Radio. These shows and many others can fill the void of enjoyable content that may or may not happen throughout the day. If you go into iTunes library of your mobile device, there is a place you can search by topic or title to find your just right programming. There are great educational podcasts out there too like The Cult of Pedagogy and Talks with Teachers.
  • Books on tape are another effective and productive way to start your day off right even if you’re stuck in traffic. Although I don’t do this yet, I’m going to try soon as there are many books I’m dying to read but just don’t have the time to. Audible is a great app for this too as many popular books are available through your mobile device this way.
  • Music is always good too. Have a morning commute playlist on your iPod that speaks to different moods. I know when I just want to put a smile on my face there is a whole bunch of music that can do that which will encourage me to stay positive through the slog of the day. You can even set up different playlists for different days.
  • It’s a great time to catch up on Voxer messages as well. You can listen and reply to this walkie-talkie voice message app that helps you feel productive during the car ride.
  • Have phone calls you need to make, if you know early risers, this could be a great time to catch up. Try to avoid conversations that might agitate you more. We all know those kinds of conversations. No on needs more cause for headaches before the sunrise.
  • Avoid doing dangerous activities like texting or checking Facebook or Twitter while on the road. Getting into an accident before dawn will not make for a happy day. Although if you’re taking public transportation, your favorite apps may be a life savor. Make sure you have a few that work without a signal if taking the subway.
  • Consider a carpool. Company always makes a challenging commute better, especially if you can talk to a person who is living in the same work environment as you are.

Having a productive and positive morning routine can help every day start off well. So making sure you get to bed early, pick out your clothes the night before and preset the coffee to brew in the house if you aren’t stopping on the way. We deal in the business of people and that can be challenging to begin with, so we want to create the best possible scenario for a great day, every day.

What is your morning routine? What do you like to do in the car or bus on the way to work? Please share

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