business tips for small businesses

You swore you’d never live more than 15 minutes away from your job – and then reality set in when you saw what rent looked like close to the office.  Don’t despair – whether you’re taking public transportation, driving, or even riding your bike, commute time doesn’t have to be a waste.

Put the productivity back into those minutes (I really, really hope it’s not hours for you) with these three solid ideas for getting more work done during your commute.

Listen to a Podcast, an Audiobook, or Public Radio

This one’s a no-brainer. Prepare what you’re going to listen to each week so you won’t be tempted to just scroll through social media on the train. If you love public radio, NPR rules them all; if you prefer printed media, try Umano – it’s a free service that allows you to listen to top news articles as read by other Umano users. Audiobooks don’t have to cost you anything, especially if you’re brushing up on the classics (or taking advantage of a free Overdrive account through your local library). And you can choose a podcast on just about any subject in the universe, so find some good ones ahead of time so you’ve got a week full of genius to look forward to hearing. You can use the free app

You can use the free app Stitcher to make a playlist of all your favorites. Not really work, you say? Being well informed about current events is essential to sounding smart around your colleagues and clients – you certainly don’t want to be the only one who’s never heard of Aleppo.

Create Your To-Do List

When you know what you’ve got to accomplish before your workday actually begins, you can hit the ground running and start going full speed as soon as you jump out of your car. Dictation functions on most smartphones should allow you to give yourself reminders if you’re not actually touching your device. If you’re carpooling or on public transportation, you can go through your calendar for the week as well to make sure that you’re not forgetting anything.

This is also a good time to check in on long-term goals to see if you’re still heading in the direction you planned. After work is over, you can go back over your day to figure out if you accomplished everything you needed to and begin making plans for the next day.

Learn a New Skill That Fits Well With Your Job

With the online courses available today, you needn’t formally enroll in a college course or a continuing education class in order to learn new skills that can give you a major advantage in your industry. If you’re a web developer, try a course from Udacity, Udemy, Treehouse, or many other sites that specialize in everything from Ruby on Rails to Java.

If you’re picking up a lot of clients whose native tongue isn’t English, consider learning any of the many languages available on FSI Language Course, which are free as mp3 downloads.


William Lipovsky owns the personal finance website First Quarter Finance. His most embarrassing moment was telling a Microsoft executive, "I'll just Google it."

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