Do you find yourself stuck in traffic on a regular basis?

Instead of passing the time mindlessly listening to the radio or gossiping with your friends on the cellphone, try some of the following ways to make the traffic time a bit more productive:

1. Learn a Foreign Language

Last summer my wife and I went to Italy for vacation. Not wanting to be completely unprepared, I spent three months ahead of time learning as much Italian as possible — all of it on the way to and from work (most of that time stuck in traffic). Just in those three months of learning in the car, I was able to order meals, book hotels, rent a car, ask for directions (and understand them) and carry on simple conversations. It was very empowering and I plan on doing the same when we travel to Japan.

One of the best audio programs available for learning foreign languages are the Pimsleur series. They require no writing or reading, are completely audio driven, and help you learn basic sentence structure, accent, vocabulary, and listening skills. And best of all, they can be found at many of our local libraries.

2. Review Your Roles, Goals & Tasks

Much of my car-time nowadays is spent reviewing in my mind the different hats I wear (Father, Husband, Blogger, Consultant etc.), the goals that I’ve set for each of those roles, and where I am with regards to reaching those goals. It gives me an opportunity to examine where I’m falling short, the things I’m doing well at, and what I need to change or modify.

In those moments when the cars come to a standstill, it is a perfect time to record some of the tasks that come to mind. By the end of the trip I usually have put together a list of tasks that are ready to be recorded into my planner.

3. Do Yoga in Your Car

For many of us, being stuck in traffic is a major source of stress. Since Yoga is lauded as one of the best exercises for stress relief, why not perform a little of the bumper-to-bumper variety? If your interested, comedic yoga teacher Jen Swain has created an entire CD series (aff) on Yoga routines and exercises that can be performed while stuck in traffic.

If pumping up is more your thing, I also found this great video on some other exercises you can do while in the car.

4. Reconnect With Your Loved Ones

Has it been a while since you called your parents or grandparent? What better way to spend your time stuck in traffic then taking ten minutes to reconnect with some of your loved ones.

If your mother tends to waste your minutes talking about your dad is losing his hearing, then you might be stuck on the phone a bit longer. But, it’s not like you were doing anything crucial anyways; and besides, your mother will really appreciate the listening ear since your dad “has lost his.”

5. Take a Nap

If the traffic has come to a complete standstill, put the car in park, hit the e-brake and take some time out for a little shut-eye. And don’t worry, the car behind you will be nice enough to tell you when it’s time to go again.

6. Plan Acts of Kindness

Is the Yoga not working? Are you finding that it’s just too hard not to get angry and stressed while stuck in traffic? One of the best ways that I’ve found to release tension is to stop focusing on myself and start thinking of ways to help others.

If I’m heading to work, I’ll think of someone at the office who might be in the need of a reassuring word or a kind deed and make a goal to provide that when I get in. The same holds true for the home front. On the way home, come up with some random act that you could do to give a boost to your spouse or kids. Just thinking about it will lift your own spirits and get your mind off the traffic.

7. Practice the Secret

If you a believer in the Law of Attraction then you know the importance of your thoughts in relation to what has become your reality. Why not use the time on your drawn-out commute to focus your thoughts on how you want your life to be.

I like to break it up in the four areas of my life: the physical, the mental, the social/emotional, and the spiritual. I’ll go through each of these areas (or sometimes spend the entire time on just one area) really trying to think and feel what it is that I want — experiencing in my mind the fact that I have already achieved it.

8. Overcome Your Fear of Public Performance

Do you fear speaking or performing in public? What better time to roll down the windows and belt out your favorite tunes than when you’re stuck in traffic? Not only does it help you to overcome some of your social fears (you probably won’t ever see those people again anyways) but it makes you feel better too. As an added bonus, it will lighten the mood of those drivers next to you and they might even join in on the chorus.

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