NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Whether your daily commute is by car, train or subway, the hours you spend getting to and from work can seem like wasted time. Most of us spend it listening to music, making phone calls or catching up on a novel or favorite podcast. While there's nothing wrong with using that transit time as a way to zone out, experts say there is a "smarter" way to commute that can help boost the career you have -- or give you a leg up on getting a new one. So sit back, enjoy the ride and take a look at our top five ways your morning commute can give you the career boost you've been looking for. 1. Think -- really think -- about what you're doing and where you want to go "There really isn't a whole lot of time left for thinking anymore," says Doug Brown, academic program manager for the online MBA program at the Malcolm Baldrige School of Business at Post University. "We live in a world where we're constantly getting information input, but we have very little processing time for all that information. At some point, it needs to process." For some people, "thinking" time, or "processing" time, can be a few minutes each day where they put relaxing music on in the background and find a quiet space to think -- and that can be done easily in the car, Brown says. "Commuting time can be very effective quiet time," he says. "If you're driving and your normal habit is to drive as fast as possible in the left lane, maybe you slow down, drive with traffic and let your mind focus on something else besides the road." Although everyone needs time for quiet reflection, Brown says it can really aid professionals looking to improve their career, because it allows them to take stock of what's going on in the workplace. "If you're having problems with a colleague, you can use that time to say, 'OK, I have this perspective, but what have I not thought about? What is the other person's perspective, and how can we approach this from a different angle?'" Brown says.
Using your commute for a personal "career planning" session is one of the most effective things to do with your time in the car or on the train, says Dave Denaro, vice president at executive coaching firm Keystone Associates. Denaro says that making a list of strengths and weaknesses is a great way to get the ball rolling. "Since most of us are consumed with doing our jobs for much of the day, little time is spent thinking about managing our career direction."
If you can get "one nugget" from each piece of media you spend time with, you're doing good, he says. But understand that slow and steady wins the race.