Everyday I'm Shuttlin': Lessons from Month 2

October 30, 2012

Editor’s Note: This is part of our new series “A New College Grad’s Guide to Your First Job” written by Nikunj Kothari who graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) earlier this year.

"How do you deal with the commute?" "Oh, I'll never be able to do the commute" "Do you know how bad the traffic is?"

These are just few of the responses I hear when I tell people that I commute every day from San Francisco to Mountain View and back. Yes, it's about two hours of my life in the shuttle, but hey, I get to live in the best city in the world. Luckily, we have a LinkedIn shuttle that picks me up and drops me back two blocks away from home. Now, most people consider commute time as time wasted. I’ve actually found it to be quite productive and enjoyable. Here are my tips and tricks:

I’ve started spending some time in my commute discovering new artists, genres and music. I use 8tracks to pick out music for me based on my mood. There are some hilarious podcasts, such as Stuff You Should Know, which make for a great listen. Also, you can listen to news on the radio or use Stitcher to hear popular radio shows and news channels on your phone.

A lot of people complain that they don't have enough time to read because of their long work hours. Guess what? A shuttle ride is the perfect time to unwind and read some amazing books. Currently, I'm reading Negotiation Genius and notes from Peter Thiel's Entrepreneurship course at Stanford. For work, I print out presentations to pore over during the commute. Being a news junkie, I spend most of my morning going over LinkedIn Today and Pulse to keep track of various technology trends.

Being a Product Manager, you often lose track of the number of projects you're handling and the tasks associated with it. I have found that writing them down on Evernote or a task management system like Asana is a great way to organize your thoughts. Apart from notes, I also type out product specifications for a new project and write emails that I may have forgotten to reply to during the day. Writing a blog (like this) is a great way to keep track of the life lessons learned and to share your experiences with the wider population.

It's essential that we should expand our skills beyond the things that we learn in the office. My recent addiction is Quora, which I use to read interesting questions and learn about philosophy, humor and epic stories. To brush up my front-end skills, I recently started using LearnStreet to learn Javascript. Confused about 401(k), investing and tax laws? Watch this Khan Academy's section of finance videos to learn more. Also, having subscribed to Netflix, sometimes I kick back, relax and watch a movie or documentary during the journey home.

Being new to the Valley, the shuttle is a great way to meet people and make new friends. Most of the people that I hang out with over the weekend in the city are people that I met and talked with during the commute. Sometimes, I find people who I've been working on projects with and hold an ad-hoc meeting to discuss the progress of the project during the commute. As most of my family and college friends are out of town, I often call and FaceTime them during the shuttle to know what they are up to, as well.

The main reason I love the shuttle/commute is that before coming to office every day I have an hour to prepare myself for the day and after leaving office I have an hour to wind down the day. Don't treat shuttle time as time wasted, but treat it as time that you can use to complete tasks by yourself. These two hours have helped me get great productive work done as well as maintain my work-life balance. Everyday I’m shuttlin’!

Photo credits: Moriza/Flickr (Read), Erin KohlenBerg/Flickr (Write), Tedx Somerville/Flickr (Learn), Kevin Vanden/Flickr (Converse) used under a Creative Commons license.