I spend a lot of time in my car, as do many people in the industry. Especially here in LA. And rather than get frustrated and worked up while sitting and not moving anywhere, I’ve brainstormed seven different safe (and legal) activities you can do to keep yourself amused.
Note: For my public transit friends, I apologize if this feels exclusive. I was dependent on public transit for years, but never needed help amusing myself because I was constantly surrounded by such colorful characters…frustration and boredom weren’t issues. But if you want to try some of these out in public spaces, be my guest! From my own experience, it certainly won’t make you the strangest person on the bus or train.
1. Listen to an audiobook or podcast
Your brain is thirsting for knowledge, so give it a little fix. There are hundreds of ways of downloading audiobooks (audible.com is one of the most popular). Rather than banging your head against your dashboard because you’re hearing Lorde’s song “Royals” for the eighth time that trip, let your imagination be swept into far off lands with thousands of audiobook options.
Or if a book is too much of commitment for you, there are tons of interesting free podcasts you can listen to no matter what your interests are. Listen to storytelling podcasts like The Moth or interesting and funny interviews with WTF or just general interesting information on Stuff You Should Know. No matter what you’re interest is that day, there’s a podcast that can entertain you.
2. Practice an accent
We all know you want to speak with a perfect Jamaican accent. Who doesn’t? Invest in some basic accent CDs or online classes you can stream through your car radio. You can repeat lines over and over again until you get it right. And no matter how bad you may sound, you’ll be in the comfort of your own car so it doesn’t matter. You can pretend you’re awesome! Do it, mon, ya got nah-ting to lose!
3. Practice your lines
This is a big one for actors. Headed to an audition? See how well you’ve got your lines down by repeating them to yourself over and over again. If you can make that script you got at 10 am seem like second nature by the time you make it to your 1 pm audition, the casting directors will see you for the pro you really are. And you can focus more on being present in the moment with the character rather than wondering if you’ll get the next line right.
Not an actor? Surely you’re headed somewhere that will require human interaction. Think about what you want to say before you get there so you can be clearer about your intentions and expectations from the conversation. It doesn’t even matter if you actually say any of it- all that matters is you’ve become clearer on what you want from that interaction.
4. Flirt with other drivers
Give your self esteem an easy and innocent boost by making eye contact and smiling at that driver stuck next to you. One of two things could happen. They either smile back and you’ve made their day and maybe you two can start a winking competition, or they’re freaked out and stare straight ahead and pretend like they never saw you (which is hilarious… by the way). Either way, you’ve made yourself giggle. And either way, you’ll never see them again after you get through this construction zone. So it’s a win/win.
5. Visualize yourself on a billboard
Visualization is one of the most effective ways of becoming clear on what you want from the universe so you can more efficiently create that reality. Too often we run around wondering why our dreams aren’t coming true when the truth is, we’re not clear on what we want. So look at that billboard by the side of the road while you sit there inching along in your car. If you were on it, what would it be advertising? How would you look? Why would it look that way? How would it make you feel to see yourself on that billboard? Is that what you really want?
Now that you’ve got that clear picture in your mind, start taking actions to make it a reality.
6. Notice something you’ve never seen before
Sure, you’ve driven down this road two times every day five days a week for the past three years. You think you know it so well. But it’s not until we force ourselves to open our eyes and really look at the world around us that we notice small treasures we normally miss.
There’s one street I can take on my way home that doesn’t look like Los Angeles at all. The trees get colorful in the fall and their leaves fall off in the winter. And while I love the beauty of the beaches and palm trees here on the west coast, this particular street reminds me of my home in Indianapolis. The homes look more midwestern than many in this city with large front and back yards. I love it. And when I’m stuck on it because of traffic, which happens often, I don’t mind. I roll down my window and take in the smells and sights and sounds I miss while just speeding through.
It’s just traffic. People just like you trying to lives their lives just like you are. They’re not your enemies. You’ll get where you’re going if you stick with it. It might just take longer than you expected. But for those of us in the entertainment industry, we’re accustomed to that mantra.