Don’t sell long stoplights short


Don't let commuting turn you into this.

As you might know, I’m a big fan of long stoplights. They’re the perfect opportunity to keep your day running tight and productive. Better, your resources on hand are limited, which means you stay on task.

Another benefit is that you train yourself to use small units of time profitably. Instead of cursing a stoplight, you see it positively.

Following is a list of microtasks suited to stoplights–by the way, I wrote this entire column during an afternoon of errands.

*Turn off the radio and cell phone. Unclench your hands from the steering wheel. Clear your head, and take deep breaths. Progressively relax each muscle.

*Jot in a notebook ideas you think of while you drive.

*Rummage through your purse and wallet. When you reach your destination, chuck the junk.


*Challenge the self-talk you’ve been engaging in during the drive. Is it really true your job will suck today? How will dwelling on that make it better?

*Review your goals for the day, and make goals for tomorrow.

*Pop a mint, or moisturize.

*Freshen your makeup.

*Paint your nails; if you keep your hands on the steering wheel, you can’t mess up the polish.

*Change CDs so you listen to upbeat music or a comedian.

*Write notes of love and encouragement for lunchboxes of loved ones.

*Fill out banking deposit or withdrawal slips.

*Make very short phone calls, like scheduling appointments.

*Check voice mail, but only to delete unneeded phone calls.

*Consume a healthy snack–say, a handful of almonds and water.

*Stretch. Why not? You’ll never see the people in surrounding cars again.

*Clean the dashboard and windows. I admit I don’t have the nerve to do this, but a hardcore performance-meister wouldn’t give a freak.

*Update your food and exercise journal.

Here are some ideas if you’re traveling with kids.

*Hand back snacks or change DVDs.

*Give a garbage bag to your kids so they can throw trash into it.

*When the light turns red, it’s time for a game! They must be quiet until the light turns green–then they can notify you the light changed. Trust me, they will.

When the light turns green, do nothing but drive. Talking on the cell phone adds stress to your commute, which ideally should be enjoyable or a chance to decompress or switch gears.

Driving while texting makes you look like a loser–are you and your message so unimportant and trivial nobody wants to talk to you via voice? I always say really busy people don’t have two free hands.

Say you’ve been blessed with a slow train. You’re golden. Pay bills, write thank-you letters, toss time to facebook, and make more involved phone calls.

You’re too important to let waiting be a waste!


About Rebecca Bailey

* Columnist, The Times of Northwest Indiana, for three years. * Professor for twelve years. * Mom of four teeny kids. * Voted "Most Dramatic," Castle Junior High School eighth grade, 1984. * Failed to diaper her first child before he projectile-pooped on the curtains. * Accidentally splattered her white Jack Russell Terrier with her red hair dye, which did not come out.

2 responses »

    • Dawn,
      I *love* your slogan! Could you do me a favor, though? Could you return to the blog at, and go to the section that says, “Read this before you enter the contest”? Then leave your entry as a comment at the bottom there. (I don’t know how to move your comment from one entry to another.) That way, other people can see what you wrote!
      Have a wonderful day!

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