Commute to work
Use rush-hour traffic to your advantage. Image:

Do you hate your commute? Let’s fix that

19 Jul 2017

The dreaded commute to and from work can be the worst part of the day. But it doesn’t have to be.

Whether you’re sitting in traffic burning through your petrol or sweating among the other commuters on public transport, the commute to work can really suck.

All that rushing around in the morning and then you’re just stuck for what feels like an impossible amount of time. Or, you’ve finally managed to leave your desk early, but you don’t put your key in the door until two hours later.

However, there is a way to reclaim control over your commute. Naturally, it will vary depending on what type of transport you take (reading isn’t exactly a goer when you’re driving).

Have a routine

We have already learned from Ben Butler about the importance of having a morning routine and how it can help prevent you from burning out.

You can apply the same logic to your commute, helping your mind transition from being at home to being at work. Whether you want to listen to the radio, watch a TED talk or read the top news stories, making this a definitive part of your commute can help lower anxiety and ease your brain into professional mode.

The same can be done for switching your mind off after work and adopting a relaxing mindset.

Plan your day

From to-do lists to progress trackers, organisation tools are everywhere and there’s a good reason for that.

Planning makes you more efficient, less likely to be distracted and less stressed at work, so using your commute to get ahead can be extremely useful.

The best part is that you can mentally do it if you’re not able to write a physical list. Actively thinking about the tasks and goals you’re going to accomplish will keep you focused on them when you arrive. Apps such as Evernote also have a recording function, if you like to vocalise your plans and ideas for the day in the car.

Upskill on the go

There are thousands of non-fiction books, podcasts and language apps you can use to help you upskill in many different ways.

Learning a new language, skill or nugget of information can enrich your mind and also help you unwind, particularly if it’s something unrelated to work.

If it’s not possible to read or study on the bus or train, there are plenty of listening resources you can tap into, and this will be a bonus for your career prospects.

Leave early in the morning

There’s a natural inclination to want to spend as little time as possible on your commute. However, leaving earlier in the morning and taking your sweet time can actually clear your mind.

Even having an extra 10 or 15 minutes on the way to work can help you feel more at peace, give you some extra time to take a scenic route, grab a coffee or sit in the park for a few minutes. All of this can help you feel ready for a long day at the desk.

Equally, getting off your chosen public transport a stop early and walking the rest of the way to work at a leisurely pace can be great for your mental and physical health.

Personal time

Leisure reading is something we often say we don’t have time for but, provided you don’t get motion sickness, your commute is the perfect excuse to read a few chapters of your book. Bookmark some interesting long-form articles and pull one of them out on your next trip to or from work.

While music, podcasts and articles are great for your commute, spending as little as five minutes practising mindfulness can help calm your mind and keep your stress levels low.

Mindfulness is not only good for stress – it can also help you think things through and glean ideas from thin air. Being aware of your surroundings can give you clarity on any number of things buzzing around in your head.

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the deputy editor of Silicon Republic in 2020, having worked as the careers editor until June 2019. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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