Note: This article was originally written in 2018 waaayyy before all our world’s got switched upside down. For those still travelling to work please use these tips for commuting with caution.
Tips for Commuting Overview
The commute from work to home, and back again, consumes a large portion of most people’s lives. In both Canada and the United States, the average commute is 26 minutes, suggesting the majority of people spend nearly five hours per week commuting. That’s a large chunk of time potentially wasted by the commuter, listlessly staring into the distance or mindlessly flipping through a playlist.
Studies say that the commute is the daily activity people hate the most. No wonder: it can increase your blood pressure, lower your fitness levels and even make you more likely to separate from your partner.
For those not able to work from home, or not in a position to change jobs or neighbourhoods, the only thing left to be done is to change your approach to your commute, allowing it to become a source of productivity.
Tips for Commuting via public transportation
When deciding how to make your commute more productive, it’s best to first determine if you’re a morning person or an evening person. If you feel more energized in the morning, use that time to prepare for the day ahead; if it’s the evening that gets you going, devote your commute home to accomplishing tasks.
A top tip for commuting via public transport—use it to organize your day. Make a list of the tasks you want to accomplish, marking as “high priority” those you should tackle as soon as you arrive at the office, and note your overall focus for the day (preparing for a meeting, finishing a project, slogging through a stack of paperwork, etc.).
If you’re an evening person, reflect on your day, write down what must be done first when you get to your desk in the morning, and celebrate your accomplishments—a written reminder of what you view as your best work can help you keep similar strategies in mind when a comparable situation arises.
Give yourself the freedom to escape your work on the other half of your commute. Think about what brings you joy. It’s likely that the hours spent in the office, the household chores, your need for sleep, or even your own belief that focusing on yourself is, well, selfish, are holding you back from bringing much-needed happiness into your life.
A recent study shows that happiness can increase productivity, so adding something that you love to your commute can benefit your work. If you’re a reader, grab a paperback or load books onto your tablet (or even your phone!) and use the journey as an escape. If you love to laugh, download a few of the best comedy podcasts, and surprise fellow travelers by chortling through your commute. If learning’s your thing, check out the multitude of free classes offered online, and choose one that looks to have little to do with your field—not only will it push you personally, but you never know when an unrelated course will spark an idea that elevates your current project to the next level. And don’t discount language learning through apps like DuoLingo. Learning another language lengthens your attention span and actually increases the size of your brain.
Talk about productive!
Tips for Commuting via car
Those traveling alone can modify many of the suggestions for those using public transport; for instance, listen to an audiobook or use a voice recorder to set your daily goals. You might also use a solo journey as a chance to let loose a little.
Did you know that singing eases stress and improves your immune system, while dancing can increase your energy levels and diminish depression? So when sitting in a traffic jam, turn up the tunes, sing-along, and don’t be afraid to add a little shoulder shimmy.
But don’t feel you have to go it alone. Not only does carpooling cut down on emissions and save on gas money, but it can also transform your commute into a productive journey: traveling with a colleague allows time to discuss current projects or bounce ideas off each other; the changed environment will likely trigger new insights.
Or you might use the time to build relationships, reconnecting with your partner or catching up with a friend you rarely have the time to see.
Tips for Commuting via walking
If you are one of the lucky ones able to reasonably walk to work, firstly lucky you, and secondly, using your commute as a way to get exercise and mentally prepare for your day can be a huge boost to your overall morale and health.
You might live too far from work to walk, or even cycle. But it’s quite possible that you could take a few extra minutes and walk to a further bus stop, or bike for part of your journey, then hop the train from there.
Studies report that those workers are more productive on days they exercise—so if you’re not finding time to hit the gym, turn your commute into your workout.
Tips for Commuting: Working from home
We’d be crazy to skip the working-from-home-crowd given the way the past few years have gone for most people. But for those working from home, even if your ‘commute’ is only a few feet, it is still a commute nonetheless.
Those working from home need only to walk from the bedroom to their desk; sometimes, we don’t even make it that far. But there are a few downsides to having your home be your office—a lack of fresh air, reduced vitamin D intake, and a decrease in the number of steps taken throughout the day.
So while you might be blessed with the ability to work in the comfort of your own home, we recommend making your own commute. Inserting a daily activity such as walking to your local coffee shop, making a loop of your nearby park, or simply setting a timer and wandering for thirty minutes can clear your head and increase your creativity.
If you’re stuck, get up and get outside. You’re likely to find inspiration waiting.
Commuting: The Clavis Philosophy
At Clavis Social, our team has the option to work remotely if they choose. While we’re a social bunch (hence the name!), we understand that talent is located all over the world and not everyone wants to be in close proximity to others.
As a result, we’re set up to function entirely remotely with the option of meetings and meet-ups at our co-working space. We’ve found over the last few years that productivity doesn’t come from being in the office, more so wherever the team feels comfortable.