1. Bring food. If you're like me, a jolt of caffeine may be necessary to get going first thing. I like to make my own tea, so I found a cute thermos and use it to keep my tea hot and ready in my car's center console. If you walk or take public transportation, make sure you have a solid, spill-proof thermos to avoid accidents. I also bring snacks (something easy, like cheese sticks and pretzels or a piece of fruit) to nibble as I'm driving.
2. Leave early! Your commute is much more likely to be harrowing and stressful if you are running late. Leaving a few minutes earlier than you think you need to provides a buffer in case something goes wrong. And if you're driving you'll be less likely to speed since you won't be trying to make up for lost time. That means increased safety for you and other drivers on the road.
3. Listen to podcasts. Downloading podcasts to listen to while you drive or walk provides an opportunity to learn about virtually any subject or topic. TED talks are a great place to start. If you love reading, why not try buying (or borrowing) an audiobook? I have a friend who swears by these.
4. Tune in to local radio stations. Some morning radio shows are downright funny and entertaining. My favorites are the ones where listeners call in to play trivia games.
5. Learn a new language. I'm finally making use of a CD set I purchased a few years ago and have been learning French for the last two months during my commute. If you use a mode of transportation where your hands are free (like a train or bus) you can use smartphone apps like Duolingo to learn a language of your choice.
6. Make phone calls. Depending on which state or country you live in, cell phone usage while driving may be legal. If this is the case, your afternoon commute may be a perfect time to catch up with family and friends. (Perhaps the morning commute as well, but depending on what time you're calling, others may not be too thrilled to hear from you.) Use a hands-free device if necessary!
7. Get enough sleep. Commuting can be stressful. It's even more stressful when you're tired. I've found that I'm more likely to get upset and feel frustrated by other drivers when I'm fighting fatigue. Going to bed early enough the night before will help you have a better trip in the morning.