6 Conquer-the-World Strategies for Your Morning Commute

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The morning commute to the office can feel like wasted time -- time that could be spent working or sleeping in. But here are six ways to rev your morning travel, behind the wheel or on the train, to arrive at work energized and ready to take on the day:

1. Do some mind-body exercises

Visualizations aren't just for yoga class, says Paul Millard, managing partner at boutique executive search firm The Millard Group.

"Think about your day -- visualize what a successful day will look like and how you're going to make that happen," Millard says. "Prioritize things you're going to get done, and think about what you might be able to scratch off your to-do list."

Becoming good at what you do isn't easy in any career field, Millard says, and sometimes believing in yourself is even harder. Don't be afraid to think some positive thoughts.

"There's no shame in repeating a few positive affirmations on your way to work," he says. "You can say things like, 'I am a great recruiter,' or 'I am a great salesperson.' It sounds silly, but it definitely puts you in the right frame of mind to start your day."

Although you can't do any real exercises while you're driving or sitting on a train, you can do subtle neck stretches and make sure your back is relaxed and your spine is aligned, says Brad L. Ellis, division manager at executive recruitment firm Newport Search.

"Sometimes just maintaining good posture is all it takes to get the right mental focus," he says.

Also see: 5 Things to Do on Fridays to Make Mondays a Breeze

2. Listen to an industry training podcast or a recorded meeting you missed

"When I had a longer commute, I would always listen to some type of industry podcast or lecture," Ellis says. "If you have enough time, delving into something substantial that you can learn from is a great way to spend the time."

If you have to miss a meeting, Millard recommends having someone record it -- you can play the audio file over Bluetooth in your car.

"We have a lot of meetings every week, and to stay up to speed, I need to be in on all of them," Millard says. "If I can't be present in the meeting, I have someone record it as a digital file and I save it to my phone."

3. Energize your day with coffee and music

Definitely drink coffee in the mornings, Ellis says, but don't stop for it unless you have to.

"Don't spend extra time at Starbucks," he says. "Get an automatic coffee maker and have it ready to pour into a cup before you walk out the door."

If you have to stop for coffee on your way to work, not only does the cost add up week after week, it can break up your train of thought if you're trying to focus on the day ahead. The stop might also interrupt an important call.

When it comes to listening to music or the radio, Millard says whatever works for you is best. NPR is no better than Howard Stern; classic rock is no better than country.

"Everyone has to come up with their own definition of what an enjoyable commute really is. For some, the Top 40 can really energize them. Others need to spend their commute more focused on the day so that they arrive to work with a little bit of business edge," he says.

4. Rehearse presentations or speeches

"I like to rehearse presentations out loud while I'm driving -- it's the only way I can understand tone and inflection," Ellis says. "If you really want to know how you're coming across in staff meetings or client meetings, you have to rehearse like an actor. It's the only way to make sure you're effective."

During his commute "rehearsals," Ellis says he has often altered his speeches.

"Once I say things out loud, I can see when I am being redundant or off target," he says. "Once I get into the office, I can retool my presentation. You may think you have the perfect presentation in your brain, but that extra time rehearsing can make all the difference."

Also see: How to Use Your Commute to Add Skills and Improve Your Work Life

5. Be nice to other commuters

It's all about putting yourself in a positive mindset, Ellis says.

"The world is full of people cutting you off, rushing to a job they hate. But you can make your life so much easier by just relaxing, allowing cars to merge in front of you, and showing some common courtesy on the road."

When you're driving, just be nice. It will come around to you eventually, he says.

"Instead of jockeying for position or blocking a side street, just let things flow out there. If you are in a bad mindset on the road, you're going to bring that negative energy into the office with you as soon as you walk through the door."

6. Call a loved one or business associate

"Those of us in the business world get really wrapped up in our jobs while we're at work, but the commute is a great time to catch up with friends and family. I call my mom and dad the most when I'm driving either to or from work," Millard says.

It's often tough to take personal calls at work, he explains, as ducking into a conference room never allows quite enough privacy or time.

If you're looking to get a head start on work and you know your clients or business associates will be available while you're on the road, use your commute time to make work calls.

"Any call you can get done before you walk through the door of your office is going to make for an easier, better day," he says. "Any item you can check off your list will allow you to focus on other things once you get in."

If you plan to make calls on your commute, Millard recommends having phone numbers handy and Bluetooth enabled so you can always do it safely.

"Don't be fumbling around looking for numbers. Don't take your eyes off the road."

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