Reframing a Monotonous Commute into the “University of Traffic”

Anyone who’s lived in Los Angeles knows there’s traffic. A LOT of traffic.

When I made the move to Tinsel Town from New York in the fall of 2014, I had to make quite an adjustment. If New Yorkers are always in a rush but never on time, then Angelenos don’t seem particularly concerned about either.

But instead of getting discouraged by the seemingly endless gridlock, I realized the traffic was an opportunity to seek knowledge.

Within a few short weeks, I converted those moments of idleness into a mobile classroom. Here are a few quick insights that may nudge you to transform your sedan into the “University of Traffic.”


One way to set yourself apart from the herd is to optimize moments most people use for entertainment with education. Divide your audiobook selection into different categories that interest you — (e.g. Fiction, History, Personal Development, Finance,etc)

Becoming well versed in a broad range of topics is twofold:

First, ideas cross-pollinate.

For example, chemistry informs biology which informs psychology and so on. You can leverage whatever knowledge you have in one field to broaden your understanding of another.

Second, if you can find ways to combine your expertise in one, two, or even three fields and solve a problem, you can monetize your skill set.


Keep in mind, the average US commuter spends roughly 42 hours in traffic per year. That’s nearly identical to a semester of college!

You have a remarkable opportunity to turn your commute, workout, or daily chores into the equivalent of a college degree.

But your quest as an autodidact needn’t stop once you’ve turned off the ignition. In an ever distracted and fast-paced world we almost have to sneak in our learning sessions.

Try thinking of informing yourself the same way someone who hates vegetables might. Whether you bury a few greens in a morning smoothie, or chop them into a soup, how you get your sustenance is not as important as simply doing it.

In the mornings I’ll listen to an audiobook as I work out, then throw on a TED Talk or informative interview as I’m getting dressed.

It may not sound like much but by the time I’ve walked out my front door I’ve spent nearly an hour learning something.

The time you invest in learning add ups fast.


But just as it’s important to inform yourself, it’s equally vital you are able to both remember THEN apply what you’ve learned.

After listening to an audiobook I’ll make a note of at least three things I took away. That way I can implement, track, and measure if the new insights are working.

Studies have also shown it’s more effective to describe what you’ve learned out loud in your own words than simply flood your pages with a highlighter.


 Visit Nick at NickMaccarone.com.

Nick is a teacher, writer, and filmmaker. His mission is to empower through stories and lessons learned. Visit Nick at NickMaccarone.com. .
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Nick is a teacher, writer, and filmmaker. His mission is to empower through stories and lessons learned. Visit Nick at NickMaccarone.com. .

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