Unless you’re blessed with the joys of working from home, you will more than likely have some sort of commute to your place of work or education. Commuting can be stressful at the best of times, and the idea of living round the corner from your place of work may even sound tempting. This is until you get your boss emailing you and calling you every day you are off, normally starting with the phrase “Can you just…”.
I’m guessing everyone at some point during their commute or time at work has sat down and calculated just how much the journeys to and from work are costing them, but have you ever sat down and considered the time you are spending per year commuting? It’s a scary figure. In the UK, the average worker spends around an hour commuting every day. Let’s make the general and unrealistic assumption that everyone works a five day week with four weeks holiday over the course of the year. This equates to 240 days at work every year. 240 hours a year is spent on commuting, that’s 10 days solid; every single year. Use our calculator below to calculate the amount of time you spend commuting every year. It is important to make the most of your commute time, make your day more productive.
Use the calculator to find out how much time you spend commuting every year.
1) Leave Early
The main reason why people do not enjoy the commute is the stress of it all. This stress is caused due a lack of control on the commuter’s part. Delayed trains, rush hour traffic, and flat tyres cannot be prevented by any commuter, and all of which can add to stress levels, due to the risk of being late. Allowing extra time for your commute to work is a great way to reduce stress levels and increase your productivity throughout the day, and hey, you might even get chance to stop and pick up a coffee on the way!
Everyone knows how important it is to stay fit and healthy, and most people will allocate time either before or after work to do this. This may consist of going for a bike ride, a run, a swim, or hitting the gym. Swimming to work may cause a few issues (it has been considered, check out this article from the guardian), however cycling, running or walking are all valid methods of commuting to work. Exercising as you travel to and from work will free up time in the rest of the day you would usually allocate for exercising. Exercising also releases chemicals in the brain key for concentration and memory, so you will be all set up for the day ahead. You will hit hurdles when cycling or running to work, such as flat tyres, the rain, or injury. I currently commute to work by bike (25 miles) and have faced all of these hurdles. In fact last week I skidded on a patch of ice and came clean off my bike. These sort of situations make you think “forget it, where are my car keys?”. However it’s all worth it when you can fly past the rush hour traffic in your cycle lane, much to the annoyance of our driving friends.
Everyone needs time to unwind and relax, and allocating time to do this is a great way to reduce stress levels and stay productive. When I say downtime, I mean proper downtime. Scrolling through social media is not a good way to unwind. Use your commute time to relax, and just appreciate the world around you. Look out of the window, listen to all of the sounds around you and appreciate life for what it is. Whilst we all love being productive, it is good to take a step back every now and then. I began using an app called HeadSpace which is advertised as “a gym membership for the mind”. It has hours of guided meditation, to help you to unwind. (Note, this may not be suitable for drivers, eyes on the road!)
4) Catch up on Emails
The first thing every office based employee will probably do once they arrive at work is check their emails. Why not make the most of your commute, and get your inbox cleared before you
even step foot into the office? This will reduce stress levels when you start work, as all of the emails will be dealt with, and you can crack on with what you need to be doing, without dealing with other people’s requests. If you are blessed with free Wi-Fi on the bus or train, utilize this and bring a tablet or a laptop to catch up on emails. If you’re not so lucky, or perhaps you have to pay for Wi-Fi, why not just use your smartphone?
5) Make Phone Calls
Catching up on phone calls may not suit everyone during their commute. Noisy buses, and other factors can make trying to catch up on phone calls impossible. If you catch a quiet train or bus, walk to work, or have a hands free kit in your car, you can use this time to make all of the phone calls you have been meaning to make. Need to rearrange a meeting with a client? Need to thank your aunt Gertrude for the socks she sent you for Christmas? Your commute is a great chance to get on top of all of this.
“It’s not what you know it’s who you know”. We’ve all heard this phrase so many times, and the sad reality is; in most cases it is true. Spend your time during your commute networking with various people within your industry, or even in a completely separate industry all together (you never know!). LinkedIn is a great tool for this, if you haven’t heard of it, it’s basically Facebook for business. You could also network by replying to article posts on topics you have an interest in.
7) Expand Your Knowledge
Audio books, podcasts and industry talks are a great way to learn more about a specific subject. This can be done in all methods of commuting (however I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re cycling). Choose a topic you would like to know more about, and find all of the relevant audio books, podcasts and industry talks you can. You can always convert an interesting YouTube video to an MP3 file, and listen to this on your commute.
Sing. I don’t mean humming, or whistling I mean proper singing. Singing has been proven to boost the endorphins within your body, which has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress levels. So put your favourite Led Zeppelin CD in, wind down your windows and sing your heart out! This may not fit in with social convention if you get public transport, but hey, it didn’t stop these guys.
9) Play Mentally Stimulating Games
Apps are a great way to make the commute go faster, but whilst fun, throwing small red
birds into pigs hiding in the most precarious structures I have ever seen isn’t the best use of your time. Use your commute to play games that test your knowledge and educate yourself. One of my personal favourites is an app known as quiz up. You select the category of the quiz and it will match you with a suitable opponent to test your knowledge against.
10) Organize Things the Night Before
The majority of the commute stress is caused by the risk of not arriving on time. As already stated in this article, you should leave earlier to reduce this stress, however you could also organise your things the night before, to make the morning just that bit less stressful. Set out your clothes for the morning, pack any bags you may need, or leave specific items you will need in an obvious place. If you take lunch to work, perhaps make this the night before. The more things you organize the night before, the less there is to do in the morning, meaning a stress free morning is coming your way, and if everything is done the night before, you may even be able to hit that snooze button just one more time.
11) Mental Gratitude Lists
Due to the media and social media, all too often in this world, people are not happy with their own life as they are constantly comparing it with others. Being happy with your own life results in reduced stress levels and an increased productivity rate, not to mention a better quality of life, and mental gratitude lists are a great way to do this. At any moment during your commute, just stop and take a minute to think of all of the things you are grateful for at that moment in time. Lists are a great thing, here’s a list of 6 reasons why successful people make lists.