When I first received the job offer for my current full-time job, I was hesitant to accept. This commute was much longer than the seven-to-ten-minute commute I was used to. I now had to travel down two interstates to get to work. Now, I know this has nothing on the folks who take two subways, three buses, and walk four blocks to get to their jobs, however, living in New Haven, CT, it's an annoying idea to swallow. Was I really about to do this?
Yes. I was. I did.
I quit the job that was around the corner from my house and accepted an offer for a job I had to drive through three towns to which to get. It was the best job decision I made. Not just because of the position, but because the increased commute time made me even more productive. My new travel time helped maximize my productivity; by forcing me to wake up earlier and journey further, I ended up having more time on my hands. Time I learned how to manage during my commute.
So, how do I maximize my commute times to be more productive? We've become a society of multi-tasking, which is a wonderful thing for making the most of my new commute time. Recognizing that my ride to work could be used for more than just the commute changed everything about that journey. Instead of just listening to music, I began utilizing silence to think, brainstorm, and set my day up for success.
Once I mastered the art of safely multi-tasking, I decided to break my commutes into the two different journeys — one to work, and the other from work. Each commute allows me to maximize my productivity in two very different ways. On my way to work, I do things that help set the precedence for my day. I prepare myself for the work of the day ahead, and mentally check-in to work mode even before I arrive. I do things like pray, check my emails, and listen to an inspirational podcast that puts me in the mood to grind the day out. On my journey home from work, I unwind and fully check-out — refusing to bring anything from work home with me. I process the day, mentally review any pending items, and release any stressors that may affect any post-work activities. This is how I manage a healthy work-life balance.
Regardless of how you choose to use your to and from work commutes, the following can help you make the most of your travel time.
While I make it a point to pray before even leaving the house, sometimes I just can't get to it. On those mornings, I drive to work in silence and dedicate the entire commute to prayer. I express gratitude for the job I'm traveling to, express gratefulness for God's consistent guidance, and thank Him for all He's done thus far. I then begin to ask Him to guide my day and to handle all the battles that may come my way. Starting my day in this way keeps me centered for all that may come when I enter the office. It reminds me to focus on God through every obstacle the day may bring, and it gives me the peace I need to begin each day productively and purposefully.
Checking my emails on the way to work helps me eliminate anxiety. I don't typically enjoy going into anything completely blind. By checking my inbox before I arrive to work, I'm aware of the fires I may experience walking in the door; it gives me a great head-start to some of the interactions and problem-solving I'd have to focus on. It also gives me a great starting point for what I need to conquer first – allowing me to make my mental to-do list.
Create your To-Do list.Achieve To Do List GIF by MAXGiphy
There's no reason you must wait until you get to work to start identifying what you must do. Thinking about the pending items on my way to work helps me to focus in on my day's top priorities before I get weighed down with the priorities of others. During my morning commute, I make a mental to-do list of items that must be completed on that day (for the sake of my own mental wellbeing). I usually settle on 3-4 tasks, which leaves enough space on the list for interruptions and last-minute emergencies. Doing so gives me a wonderful starting place and allows me to hit the ground running when I arrive to work – that is, after I make my morning tea.
Reflecting can be you assessing your morning mood, setting intentions, or just thinking critically about what's going on in your personal life. Using your commute time to reflect is a wonderful opportunity to process how you feel and determine how you plan to show up for yourself on any given day. It also allows you to get your mind right before having to deal with pesky coworkers or daunting job tasks. Typically, I use my morning reflection time for intention setting and my evening reflection time to affirm what I've done in my 8-hours of work. This helps me to start my day deliberately, and to end it with positivity.
Listen to a Podcast/Audiobook or Read a Relevant Article.
They say it's important to spend at least five hours per week learning something new. Podcasts and articles are one of the many ways I do so. Dedicating my 20-30 minute commute to consuming educational content, ensures that I'm making the most of my travel time, and not completely slacking on my self-work. Whether you tune in to your favorite podcast, listen to an audiobook, or read a new article on your favorite site, fitting in a form of education and entertainment is imperative – especially on the days you feel you don't have the time to do either.
Check in on Your Side Projects.
This is particularly useful for those dedicated to maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Utilizing your commute time to check in on freelance projects allows you to tackle some of the more mundane tasks before you get home and 'clock in' to your second source of income. Make your last-minute phone calls, respond to quick e-mails, check on the status of pending items, and brainstorm for your next project before you even arrive home. Doing so helps to cut down on the time you spend doing this work and frees up some home time to actually enjoy…home.
Critical to ensuring you leave your work at work, decompressing is the post-work version of reflecting. Decompressing allows you to process what happened in the day and allows you to think about the pending items that you didn't get a chance to complete. It gives you one last moment to unload your thoughts from work, so you don't bring it home with you. It's a great opportunity to vent to yourself about the day's struggles, reflect on the new things you learned today, and allows you to affirm the work you did.
Phone a Friend.
If you're anything like me, after a long day of work the last thing you want to do when you get home is talk to anyone for at least 30 minutes. Using your commute time to check on your friends and share your latest frustrations is a good way to ensure your home time can be dedicated to your at-home routines. It's also a great way to nurture your relationships without them getting lost in the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives. Whether it's cooking, spending time with your children or spouse, or simply taking a shower and relaxing, marking off these non-work items during your commute home can free up some space in your hectic schedule for actual you-time at home. I use my after work commute in the best way I can to ensure that once I get home, my time will be my time.
Regardless of what your commuting situation is like, there have been quite a few things I've learned on my fantastic voyages to and from work. In the past year and a half, I've learned how to make the most of my commute and maximize my productivity doing so. Mixing my work commutes with professional productivity, relationship building, and self-care ensures that I have a balanced routine long before the day is over.
Featured image by Getty Images
- Maximise the benefit of your commute - Cycling Weekly ›
- Maximize Your Commute in 9 Simple Steps | HuffPost ›
- Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Daily Commute ›
- 7 Ways to Maximize Productivity on Your Daily Commute | Inc.com ›
- What Successful People Do on Their Commute | Reader's Digest ›
- 5 Job Tips For Maximizing Your Work Commute - Glassdoor Blog ›
- 7 Ways to Maximize Your Commute Time to Work ›
- 36 Commuting Apps to Make Your Trip to Work More Productive ... ›
Zoe Hunter is the writer, speaker, and creator behind the women empowerment brand DEAR QUEENS. She uses vulnerability, storytelling, and spiritual development to empower women toward healthy decision-making. Stay connected to Zoe's work by visiting DEARQUEENS.com or following her on Twitter @zDEARQUEENS.
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
In the crazy world of dating, so much attention is placed on the behavior during actual dates. Whether it is choosing the right outfit or making a good first impression, the focus tends to center on the in-person time spent together. But something that often gets overlooked is the significance of "between date behavior (BDB)." BDB is not just generic good morning text messages (that can be sent to 10 women in one minute), but rather text check-ins during the day and even nightly phone calls. This is the time when two people are apart but still find time for connection.
It is during these in-between moments that the foundation of a truly meaningful relationship is often built. A glaring example of what happens when there isn’t BDB is the early relationship between Carrie and Big from Sex and the City. At the beginning of the series, she was so hyper-focused on the time she spent together that she ignored that Big wasn’t calling or texting her often between dates. Instead, he would reach out and send cars based on his convenience… and not hers.
When it comes to dating, don’t be Carrie!
BDB in Dating
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Please realize that 80-90% of your time will NOT be with your partner while seriously dating, so the BDB will also be a significant part of your relationship. Here are some other reasons why what happens when you're not together is just as, if not more, significant than the hours spent face-to-face…
One of the key factors that makes BDB so crucial is authenticity. When we are with someone on a date, it is easy to put on a front (show one’s representative), showcasing our best qualities and concealing our flaws. But it is in our day-to-day interactions, the text messages and phone calls, that our true selves shine through.
Consistency in behavior is an indicator of authenticity. And authenticity builds trust. And trust is the cornerstone of any meaningful relationship.
Speaking of trust, it is one of the foundations of a successful relationship. Building it doesn't happen in a single evening. It's the consistency in behavior between dates that solidifies trust. When your person consistently communicates, shows interest, and keeps it respectful in the moments between your dates, it is reassuring that your potential partner is seriously interested and invested in the relationship.
Also, in between dates, the channels of communication become lifelines that connect two people and nurture emotional intimacy. How you communicate and what you choose to communicate about can significantly impact a growing relationship. Consistent, thoughtful messages and meaningful conversations like sharing your thoughts, dreams, and vulnerabilities can help create a strong emotional bond. Being supportive and understanding during difficult moments can bring you closer together.
While the time spent on a date is super important, the BDB, I would argue, should not be slept on. It's the glue that holds the connection together, builds trust, and sets the stage for a healthy, long-lasting relationship. So, the next time you find yourself waiting for that next date, remember that the journey between those dates is just as significant, if not more so, in the grand scheme of building a meaningful connection.
Hope this helps!
Coach Anwar is a certified dating and relationship coach who has 13 years of experience helping Black and brown women date with strategy, meet relationship-ready men, and get into the best relationship of their lives.
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