by Laura McLoughlin | Featured Contributor
In the modern era of trains, planes and automobiles, we are now better equipped than ever to travel for the means of work, which means we typically go further. We’ve actually seen a 75% increase over the last decade in daily 2 hour commute times, with the rise being said to affect women most of all. While some of us avail of remote work arrangements or freelance opportunities from home, long commutes are an unfortunate reality for most of us.
Your commute can often be a bit of a slog in the early morning and rush hour evening, but when this often lengthy journey takes up as much time as it does, we shouldn’t be wishing it away, but seizing it – and making it our own.
Of course, if you enjoy your time jamming to the radio, bumper to bumper, on the motorway – keep doing that. A little bit of joy is an ideal start and end to any hectic work day. However, if you spend yourself gritting your teeth and thinking about what you would rather do with your time watching traffic, read on and discover how you can better utilise your commute.
Take public transport
In the UK, the average commuter takes 27 days a year getting to and from work. Sounds like a lot of time, right? I’d agree, and in my opinion, this kind of time is poorly spent staring out of a windscreen and willing the traffic in front of you to disappear.
Public transport, while often inefficient and not always the most luxurious, is an excellent way for you to quit wasting the guts of a month every year and start using it for good. Even if all you did was catch a half hour nap, or read a chapter of a new book, you will feel better and more accomplished than if you had decided to take your own car.
Plus, you can feel better about reducing your carbon footprint and doing your bit for the environment (you’re welcome, Earth).
Clock in for your alternative project
You might think that the best thing for you to do on your commute is to check up on your emails and make a start to your day via the internet. However, using your commute this way has been proven to stress you out, so unless it’s essential, don’t jump straight into work. Instead, take this time to invest in the side projects you have been neglecting.
Maybe you have always wanted to start a blog but never felt you had the time to give it the attention it deserves, or have been wanting to properly upload and edit your latest photographs, but keep getting distracted. Maybe it’s as simple as taking the time to think about the content you want to upload on your up and coming Instagram page, rather than letting it fade into social media obscurity. Regardless of the nature of your project, consider your commute the time of the day when you can be locked in with it for whatever length your commute is, without the distraction of friends, family and household chores.
There are few opportunities in life when we can disconnect from the internet, away from the lures of social media and clickbait, and your commute can be a great way to really get away – at least for a little while. Social media, while a great tool for keeping in contact with long-distance friends and people we don’t get to see everyday, has been proven again and again to be a killer of productivity. Productivity expert and author Carson Tate even went as far as to say that for every minute that an employer thinks their employee is distracted by social media, they are actually losing 25 minutes of work time.
Find your commuting focus by turning off your WiFi or putting your device on airplane mode. This works even better if your mode of transport doesn’t have WiFi, or a connection which is so weak, it’s hardly worth connecting to.
Re-energise before climbing aboard
If you’ve got a 40 minute commute and a plan of action of how you want to do, but if you are running on empty as you start your day breakfast-less or in the state of pre-dinner hunger, you’ll find your concentration levels slipping from the moment you sit down. It can be a pleasant change to spend your commute sleeping or chilling out, but if you want to make the most of it and get some real work done, top up your energy levels with a quick snack, tea or coffee.
Caffeine is known as ‘nature’s stimulant’, so obviously this is a go-to for many people wanting to get focused quick, but other foods can get your juices flowing too. Blueberries, dark chocolate, and nuts are all said to positively affect your concentration, allowing to stay alert for your entire journey.
Commutes can be hard when they’re long, and even harder if you don’t know how to handle them. Watching minutes tick by as miles inch on can be frustrating for even the most patient of people, but the trick isn’t to fight with the time you have, but to see it as the gift that it is and use it to the best of your ability.
Laura McLoughlin is a Digital PR with past experience as a website editor and writer. Away from the keyboard, you can find her binging nature documentaries and dreaming up travel plans. Laura works with Glaze Digital in Northern Ireland.