Regardless of whether it takes half an hour or two hours, commuting back and forth to work every single day sucks. The time you spend on the road or in a bus or a train is time lost that adds nothing meaningful or productive to your day. It’s even more frustrating when it’s a long commute. I mean, you could be doing so many other interesting things during this time had you not been commuting to and from work, like spending time with your family, friends or pet, exercising, or having sex!
To add insult to injury, long commutes are also linked to a number of health problems: stress, insomnia, weight gain, and high blood pressure. One study says that marriages in which one of the partners spends a lot of time commuting are more likely to end up in divorce. That is ridiculous, because your commute shouldn’t be killing you, it should be time that you can use for personal growth, doing things you love, and a refreshing change from your personal and professional commitments.
To make your commute less stressful and more productive, here are a few things you can do:
Whether you take the metro, local train or bus to work, use your commute as your personal time where work is not bothering you and you are not immersed in your responsibilities. This is the perfect time to prepare for your day ahead and arrive at work in a happier state of mind. Also, this is the time when you can relax and de-stress with activities you actually enjoy doing before you reach home.
Use this time to plan your day smartly. Note down things that you want to accomplish by the end of the day. By getting organised right at the start of the day, you ensure that you will not miss any important tasks or procrastinate at work. It will help you prioritise your tasks and goals and set realistic expectations for your day. Apps like Wunderlist and Evernote are great for planning your day by creating to-do-lists.
Now is the best time to update yourself on what’s happening around you. Listen to the news on the radio or carry a newspaper to make sure you are all caught up when it’s time to engage in a conversation with a client, coworker or boss. You will not only create an impression that you are well-informed but will also have enough material for small talk throughout the day.
To save time later, finish the little things that take up a lot of your time at work or that you have trouble making time for later. Sending emails tops this list. A long commute gives you some extra time to reply to emails and catch up with your team members even before your day has officially begun. So by the time you reach your workplace, you already have a lot of things in place. This saves time in the long run.
If you feel like you are too preoccupied throughout the day to indulge in a good read, now is the time to make up for it. Carry books or magazines with you or invest in an e-reader like Kindle. You can always watch your favourite Netflix series once you are home but you may not find the time to get lost in a great book.
So, you have been meaning to call your best friend for a few days now but you just don’t get the time after a hectic day at work and the long commute. Why not use your travelling time to call up your loved ones and stay connected? You can also use this time to network with people in your professional circle.
We spend most of our day plugged into technology. This increases stress levels and has negative impacts on your health. When you unplug from technology and detox for a while, you are boosting your mental and physical health. Rather than scrolling through your social media feeds endlessly, power down, reflect and practise mindfulness. When this becomes a habit, you will eventually start enjoying it and looking forward to this time of the day.
You can’t be productive all the time. After a long day at work, your mind needs some dose of entertainment to cool down. Use your commute time to train your brain to get out of work mode and relax before you are home. Watch a movie or a show that was on your wishlist for long but you never had the time for it.Trust me, a movie is a better form of entertainment than mindlessly scrolling through Instagram any day.
Long hours and work stress often leave you exhausted. Find your zen while you’re on your way to (or back from) work by practising deep breathing exercises. Close your eyes and breathe. You should feel your lungs expand and contract with every inhale and exhale. This is a great way to feel centred and at peace with yourself after a crazy day at work.
Rather than mindlessly looking outside the window, earphones plugged in, use this time to see the world around you and find inspiration. Notice other people – the books they are reading, the clothes they are wearing, their body language or the vibe they are giving off. You never know what may spark your interest. Sometimes you find a lot of value by simply noticing people and things more mindfully.
Your options are limited when you are driving because you have to obviously focus on the road. Being behind the wheel completely removes the options of sending emails, watching a movie and reading. However, you can still use your driving time to do stuff that can make your commute less boring. Here are a few ideas that you will love:
Though you can’t read when you are driving, you can still learn something by listening to podcasts and audiobooks. The best thing about audiobooks is that you can pick up from wherever you left the last time without any hassle. Now isn’t this one of the best ways to convert a fairly boring commute into something interesting?
Is there anything better on earth that can calm you down and help you relax than good music? Nope. Download your favourite songs or simply tune in to online music apps like Wynk and gaana. When you start your morning on a happy note you are more likely to carry it throughout the day.
Use your driving time to ideate, brainstorm, and strategise for work. Perhaps, this is the only time in the day when you are all by yourself so you have enough time to clear up your mind and come up with new ideas.
Establishing a work-life balance can be difficult with such long commuting hours. Use your commute to stop for a while and ponder solely on yourself. Evaluate your own self and your well-being, critically analysing every aspect of your work and personal life. Remember, your mental and emotional health deserves at least a few minutes of your busy life.
In long-distance commutes, we are already so exhausted by the time we get to work that focussing on work becomes difficult. By occupying yourself with these productive activities you will be able to kickstart your day on a happy and positive note. You will start looking forward to this time of the day because this will be your own personal space where you can spend some time alone with your thoughts.
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