“My breakthrough was when I began to write during my commute… I got so fast that I was averaging 400 words during the 35 minutes or so I spent on the subway each way, or 800 words round trip.” – Peter V. Brett
Let’s face it, for most of us, the idea of commuting doesn’t generally spark joy. It may not be something we completely abhor, but I would imagine that there aren’t many of us that get excited about the idea. I should also think that there are plenty of us for whom the daily commute is a real sucker of joy and energy.
However, this attitude to the morning grind is no secret, so much so that there are signs of effort towards a more comfortable and mindful commute emerging all over the place. London Underground is a great example. Many stations have taken it upon themselves to try and create a more calming atmosphere, near me there are underground stations that play classical music, have installed plant life, put out an inspirational ‘thought of the day’ for all to ponder on, or have even installed a book swap library. I find these additions very encouraging, and genuinely soothing… the libraries, in particular, really get my mood up.
These offers serve as a great foundation on which to build yourself a less stressful commute. Whatever efforts your local transport companies make towards your comfort, there is even more that you can do for yourself, so ensure that you don’t arrive at work feeling like you fell out of the wrong side of bed!
1. Have A Morning
I know, I know, ‘get up earlier’ is probably not a phrase you really wanted to see. However, I cannot impress enough how much better my commutes became after I gave myself some time to relax in the morning. If you are the type of person that leaves just enough time between bed and leaving the house to get ready, or are even prone to letting yourself oversleep only to rush around getting ready after you notice you’ve hit snooze too many times, then I fancy you may well find commuting a little unpleasant. Give yourself some time; make a proper breakfast, allot 15 minutes to sit and enjoy your coffee or meditate, take a more leisurely shower or get a light. workout in (or a heavy one, if you feel so inclined). Starting your commute in a good mood is an important way to start the morning, as it really can affect the entirety of the day. What’s more, there is a much longer way to go to get you tensed up than if you leave the house in a hurried flurry.
2. Leave Early
If you always seem to be being caught out by delays and cancellations, or always seem to be cutting it fine, shift your mentality slightly. Let’s say you start work at 9am, and up until now have been aiming to arrive at that time. Try planning your morning around an 8.30am start time. This way, if you miss a bus or run into a delay, you have a buffer… no worries. Also, if you get to work early… bonus, you can stop off and grab yourself a fancy coffee or something!
3. Utilise Your Commute
One of the most annoying things about commuting is that it can feel like lost time. This needn’t be the case. Utilise that time for an activity. I, for example, like to assign ‘commute only’ projects; these have included making my way through a book series, writing a personal blog, learning Shakespearian monologues and completing a Sudoku book. What tickles your fancy?
4. Harness the Apps
Another great way to use your time is to meditate. There are loads of fantastic mindfulness Apps for this. SO why not give one of them a go, to help the micro-frustrations of your daily journey disappear. Apps such as Headspace, Calm and Simply Being are a great place to start. You may also want to get together a soundtrack of your favourite, most calming and engrossing albums and artists.
I am now going to go completely against what I have advised in point 4! I listen to music all the time, so on some days I like to give myself a break. If I am travelling over ground, I often prefer to unplug from all my devices, turn my phone off and just stare out of the window and observe the world. Never underestimate the calming effect of the daydream.
It’s easy to get angry and frustrated, and that goes for all areas of life, not just commuting. Very often a commute is stressful because of things you have absolutely no power over. You cannot fix a signal failure, make a bus turn up faster or make crowds move quicker. So, just accept them; a weight really is lifted.
I sincerely hope these help you to discover a way to turn up to work feeling fresh and positive, and that you may even look forward to your commute one day.
By Chris Thomson
If you commute on foot, there are still plenty of ways to utilise that time… with meditation perhaps: Meditation on Foot: 7 Great Practices for Professionals on The Move
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