Do you dread the drive home from work? Is your time spent behind the wheel just that: time spent? Sure, maybe you purchased a nice car from Nissan Arizona so you can sit in comfort, but sitting in rush hour still sucks, no matter how you slice it.

Traffic is beyond frustrating when you’re trying to extend your productivity outside the office, but while the drive is largely unavoidable, it no longer has to be a complete waste. The development of advanced technology has transformed the work commute from a dreaded ritual to a part of the day young professionals now actually anticipate as a window to work on their competitive edge.

Listen To Audiobooks

Okay, the use of audiobooks during the daily commute is nothing new. Ever since car manufacturers began installing tape decks in vehicles, drivers have been listening to their favorite authors with the help of books on tape. But now, listening to audiobooks is easier and more affordable than ever before, thanks to the creation of such services as Audible and Downpour. (1)

If you have a tablet or smart phone, you can download the app to your favorite audiobook provider for instant access to a range of genres and topics. Use the drive to freshen up on tomorrow’s agenda and talking points or wind down with your favorite literature. Either option is better than the blaring accident report on the radio.

Use Speech Recognition Software

Have you noticed that guy in the rearview mirror, seemingly talking to himself? While he could be going crazy — rush-hour traffic will do that to the best of us — or talking on a bluetooth device, it’s more likely that he has simply discovered the benefits of speech recognition software.

This is a great solution if you have an email, to-do list or any other type of document that needs to be typed up while you keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. Best of all, the latest speech recognition apps are available at inexpensive rates. Or, as in the case of the popular Dragon Dictation app, for free! (2). Once you’ve made it home, be sure to glance over the end result, as variations in dialect combined with background noise can occasionally lead to typos. However, as speech recognition continues to improve, users will notice fewer and fewer mistakes with each application update. The reality, is your car cabin is probably less distracting than the office. Take advantage of the quiet to literally think out loud and check off tasks on-the-go.

Learn A Language

Speaking a foreign language is always a valuable skill to have, especially if you work with diverse clients or your job requires travel. After those college basics wear off, few workers have time to keep up on their foreign languages, let alone continue studies. Thankfully, with today’s language learning audio programs, enrolling in a foreign language course is no longer required for developing the ability to speak fluently in Spanish, Chinese, German or a whole host of other languages. Popular foreign language programs include Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur and Penton Overseas.

A number of excellent foreign language podcasts are also available for those who have built up some level of proficiency but are looking to expand their skills. These include CSLPod for Mandarin Chinese, Yale’s French In Action, Deutsche Welle’s Radio D for German, HebrewPod 101 and the BBC’s Mi Vida Loca for Spanish. (3)

There are dozens of ways to remain productive during your commute home, so there’s no excuse for you to lose an hour or more of valuable time every day. If you have a smart phone or tablet, it’s time to start taking full advantage of its capabilities — and that means downloading the tools necessary to transform your daily commute from a place of pessimism to productivity!

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