If you rely on public transport to get to and from work, you might be a little over it. Likewise sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic for an hour or more isn’t much fun either. But using this time to help you gain back a little time later in the day, or help improve your productivity, or even your mood is achievable.
In this month’s article, we look at some simple strategies you could easily incorporate into your daily commute to help improve your productivity and/or mood.
- Write your to-do list: If you like being organised and you work well with lists, getting organised before you arrive at work is a great start to your day. If you’re catching public transport this is simple. If you’re driving, you can use one of the many voice recording apps out there to get your notes onto your phone. Evernote has a voice recording function, as do many other ‘organising’ apps. Use whatever method works best for you.
- Clear your inbox: Again if you’re on the bus or train, this is easy – getting rid of all the junk emails and dealing with any ‘easy responses’ during your commute means when you arrive at the office you can get stuck into the more complex work. If you’re driving, there are apps that can help. For example, Speaking Email provides a simple interface designed to let you safely listen to your emails while driving. It reads them out loud to you and provides voice command functionality that lets you archive, flag or instantly reply while you’re on the go.
- Listen up: Check out the latest podcast or audiobook. I’m very late to the party here, but I’ve recently discovered podcasts and think it’s a great way to spend my commute. It’s better than spending more time staring at my screen, and for drivers it’s a great way to pass time in traffic. You can choose podcasts that entertain, inform or teach. Ask around for suggestions on what other like-minded people are into, research the many podcast review lists on the web, or check out the ‘featured’ and ‘top charts’ within the podcast app for currently trending podcasts.
- Draft emails or reports: I’m not a huge fan of emailing from my phone – I just need a bigger screen, but I don’t mind sending those quick one or two liners from my phone (See tip 2). What I do love using my commute for is drafting those longer, more difficult responses that need some level of thought. I’ll often draft these emails during my commute then review and send once I’ve arrived at the office. Doing this often significantly improves your content since you’ve had time to think about it. That final review before you hit send usually brings out the best and most articulate content!
- Keep up to date: These days there is so much content to stay on top of – whether it’s news about your company, your industry, your clients or competitors, or simply staying on top of local current affairs – there’s lots of it. Add to that all the personal interest content you’d like to read or videos you’d like to watch and you can easily feel overwhelmed. If you’re anything like me, you’ve got a list as long as your arm of articles you’d like to read and content you’d like to watch. Use your commute time to make a dent.
- Take note of successes: This is a great tip for staying on top of your career. When it comes time to look for a new role, or ask for a pay rise or promotion – you’ll need more than just a list of skills and experience. You need specialist expertise and you need to know your value. Use your commute time to keep track of your accomplishments and especially all those little wins (because you will forget them over time). Take note of accolades, positive feedback, outstanding results, and training completed. Use driving time to think about this and jot them down as soon as you get to work.
- Get your social media fix: It’s a time waster for sure, so resist the urge for mindless scrolling through your feeds and notifications while you’re at work by doing it during your commute (especially on the way home from work when your energy levels are probably at their lowest).
- Increase your activity: Depending on how far away your work is, consider walking, riding or even running to work – or at least part of the way. If you catch public transport, you could try getting off a stop earlier and walking the rest of the way, and if you drive, simply park a little further away.
- Read a book: Using your commute time for ‘work stuff’ to ensure you’re more productive later is great, but simply picking up a book (or e-book) that you’ve been wanting to read is also a good idea. If you’ve lost interest in fiction as a result of all the online noise, make an effort to re-discover a book for pleasure during your commute (try an audio book if you’re driving).
- Chill out: In our increasingly busy lives, who said that being productive is the most effective use of time? Most of us need to spend more time relaxing. Use your commute as a time to just be present and clear your mind. If you find that hard, you could try one of the many meditation and mindfulness apps available, which can help you combat anxiety, sleep better, hone your focus, and more. Some of the most popular include: Headspace, InsightTimer, and Calm.
Unless you want to move closer to your workplace or can somehow work from home – commuting to work is the reality for most people. But it doesn’t have to be that bad – use the time wisely and your mood and productivity will likely improve.
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