As a high school student, I spend a good amount of time in the car rushing from one activity to the next. I often found myself looking for a few minutes in the day to do simple but important tasks or to simply enjoy myself, and I discovered ways to make the most of my small trips in the car. Whether I’m driving or riding in the backseat, I always give myself a goal or something to complete during these short journeys. I’ve compiled a small list of my most common or necessary ideas, and I’ve chosen to share them with you.
- Write a rough draft for an essay. I’m currently typing this article on a Google Doc on my phone from the passenger seat in my mom’s car. I wouldn’t recommend doing final run-throughs or submitting what you type the first time through, but you’d be surprised what you’re able to get done in a short period of time.
- Clean out your purse or wallet. If you’re anything like me, your wallet is filled with old receipts or expired coupons. I’m normally able to empty the contents of my wallet onto my lap or the seat next to me and sort through what needs to be recycled or kept.
- Read a book. Personally, looking at books or a laptop screen makes me kind of carsick. Smaller items, like my phone, work better for me. However, when I’m driving I sometimes like to have an audio-book playing through the speakers. I’ve listened to countless audio versions of required school readings while in the car. As an extra tip, if you highlight text and use the “speak” option, your phone or laptop will read anything out loud.
- Talk to a friend. A quick disclaimer: I most definitely do not endorse texting while driving, calling isn’t always the worst option. After a stressful day or while stuck in traffic, I find that talking to someone I don’t see on a regular basis is a great way to catch up and make the drive go faster.
- Take a nap. Although it may not be the most comfortable position, naps in my day are crucial. If a drive is more than 20 minutes long, it’s probable that I’ll be napping in the backseat. The small boosts of energy I get through naps are usually enough to keep me going through the end of the day.
- Journal. Even though I’ve exchanged my bullet journal for apps and Google Calendars, I still love jotting down thoughts, reflections, or ideas in the small journal I carry with me. Some of my friends prefer sketching or doodling in the car, but either option works.
- Plan your day. Bus rides back from school normally give me enough time to plan my homework and study schedule for the day, as well as create a plan for new projects and upcoming tests. Many people mentally plan out their day, but I prefer writing things down so I don’t forget anything.
- Schedule appointments or answer emails. We all have a stack of emails to work through or phone calls we’re dreading to make. Whether you make quick calls to set up meetings or appointments or choose to conquer the endless cycle of being on hold with customer service, you know that neither can be avoided forever. If you’re already bored out of your mind in traffic, there’s no harm in getting these tasks done.
- Listen to a TED Talk. TED Talks are endlessly interesting, and there’s so many to choose from! They make playlists about interesting topics, so you can sit there and let them play through. I would recommend the most popular TED Talks of all time or talks by brilliant kids and teens.
- Let yourself breath. I mean it. Take a minute to let your worries and thoughts let loose. Sometimes I let myself breathe deeply, and sometimes I use the app ‘the quiet place’ to guide me through my stress. In the end, time spent on yourself is never time wasted, and in the constant hustle of present day, a few minutes relax is necessary.
Photograph: Fabrizio Verrecchia