Photo: Alexander Lyubavin via Flickr
There’s a reason we think people who live close to work are really lucky. Most of us don’t have that luxury and have to spend an average of an hour getting to and from work every day. That’s a lot of time to waste just sitting in a packed subway car scrolling through your Twitter feed.
But if there’s no way to avoid the commute, why not make the most of that time and do something useful? It doesn’t matter if you walk to work or travel by car or train, there are plenty of things to keep your commute productive.
Take a nap
If you often find yourself zoning out while on a bus or a train, you may want to take a quick nap to help your brain recharge.
Sleep is known to increase productivity (just like the lack thereof is known to decrease it), so switching off your brain even for a few minutes (unless you’re driving or course) could be a great way to restore your mental energy and boost your creative powers. Just make sure not to miss your stop.
Get some work done
Not all of us are into doing work outside of our office hours, and that’s completely understandable. However, a train or a bus commute is absolutely perfect to knock out a few simple tasks.
Reply to emails, review a report, or read up on some industry news. That way you’ll be able to use the rest of your day to focus on really important stuff. If your company is using a time tracker, log the spent time into mobile timesheet app to get paid later.
Constant phone calls, conversations, doors opening and closing all the time – most offices are usually not the quietest and relaxing environment, so getting your thoughts in order and doing some planning and organizing can be a bit of a pain. So why not use your commute to clear your head and do some thinking?
Get an app on your phone for notes, or use a voice assistant if you’re driving. Go through your to-do list, explore a new idea, discover solutions to a problem or reflect on a difficult project. Traveling time is great for thinking.
Learn something new
It may not seem like that much at first glance, but the time you spend on commutes every day can add up to several dozen working days over the course of a year.
And tempting as it is to use your daily commute as a chance to just relax and do nothing, it’s hard to argue that a far more productive way to spend all that time would be to tune into a podcast, an audiobook, or a TED Talk.
Hell, just crack open a book you’ve been meaning to read, or even start learning a new language. It’s not about not having enough time, it’s about being smart about the time you have.
Listen to music
Most people probably wouldn’t consider listening to music as a productive use of time, but it’s not entirely true. Music can have a tremendous effect on our overall mood and attitude, so listening to music on your way to work can help you start your day on a more positive note (pun fully intended).
If you’re feeling anxious when arriving at work, music can help you reduce some of that stress and get into the right mindset, so that you’re ready to face any challenges with confidence.
Mix things up
When it comes to commuting to work it’s easy to fall into a familiar pattern. After all, how exciting can walking the same four blocks to the subway station be when you’ve done it literally hundreds of times before.
So why not mix things up every now and then? Do you take a bus to work? Consider walking next time. Do you commute by car?
Take a bike instead!
Breaking up your usual routine like this will not only provide a nice change of scenery but also allow your brain to switch gears, giving your mental energy a much-needed boost.
For a lot of people daily commutes are seen as boring and wasted time, but they don’t have to be. There are so many ways to stay productive on your way to and from work, whether you drive a car or use public transport. Try incorporating some of the things mentioned above into your routine and get more out of your day!