Commuting to work is generally viewed as a necessary evil. Whether it’s a drive spent mostly static in traffic, or a long-haul trip on the train, in the absence of teleport, we do the best that we can to grit our teeth until we can get into work and actually begin our day. But is this really the right attitude?
Even if your commute is just 20 minutes, when you consider that you do that twice within one day, and five times a week – the idle time spent listening to the radio or aimlessly scrolling your phone begins to add up. It may be too late to get back the time you’ve already lost, but a change in attitude may just repurpose your current commute and turn it into something wonderful and productive.
Of course, different types of commuting lend themselves to different kinds of productivity. So, to make it easier for you, we’ve broken down the different ways of getting to work and suggested a technique for using that time more wisely for each. Pick out your mode of transportation to find those much-needed extra hours in the day:
Whether you spend your drive to work bumper-to-bumper in traffic, or soaring down country roads, you can still make more use of your time. Of course, there are certain things that are not recommendable for drivers i.e. reading or going on your phone. However, there may be more things you can do than it first appears.
One good example is a conference call. Of course, this might not always work for calls involving many people or those more senior than you, but for smaller work calls or those one-on-one call meetings, talking on speaker in the car is a good way of freeing up time for yourself later in the day.
Of course, you’re unlikely to fill every morning and afternoon with a phone call, so on the days that doesn’t fit alongside your commute time, why not invest in audiobooks? You might not be able to read in the car per se, but listening to an audiobook is the next best thing. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a crime thriller junkie or a fan of hefty philosophical numbers, there’s an audiobook for everyone. After all, as Stephen King says – “Books are a uniquely portable magic.”
Trains are one of the best modes of transport for getting things done. Unlike a bus or taxi, trains tend to be smoother allowing you to write, read and generally make the most of your time commuting. While pulling out your work laptop and starting the day early might be necessary on some days, it’s also important to not put too much pressure on yourself to fill every moment of your commute with work time.
Being productive doesn’t have to mean getting on with your tasks for the day (after all, you’re not in work when commuting!) Instead, why not use this time to take notes and get down ideas, outside of the pressure of your office environment. Bring a personal notepad and use it to jot down ideas and register thoughts. Even if you use it as a way to address any ongoing worries or concerns – writing pre-work is a great way to get into the office clear-headed, and a good way to move your mind onto other things after leaving the office. So pick up a pen, and get scribbling!
Science has linked walking to improved cognitive function – so make the most of your walk to work by using this time to think over any problems you’re struggling to solve. Try to do this in a calm, measured way – it’s important it doesn’t turn into another form of worrying or feeling anxious. Considering the problem calmly while away from the office might just help you find a solution.
Walking is also a great time to reflect, be mindful and work on ideas. Before you head out, think about a project you’d like to come up with more ideas for and you may be surprised to find that you have a lot of new, fresh ideas by the time you sit down to work. Daydreaming is a key part of the ideation process, that should never be underestimated. Give productive daydreaming a go while walking to and from work and you’ll soon reap the creative benefits.
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