The journey to and from work can often be the most frustrating part of the day, with eager commuters keen to squeeze every possible working moment they can out of their schedule.
But trying to get a head start on the day’s work doesn’t always pan out for some people; and in fact, experts often recommend that you shouldn’t spend your whole commute working. And as no successful professional should ever start their day simply zoning out on social media, we’ve put together tips on increasing productivity and reducing stress on your commute, no matter the length of your journey.
Make your commute your exercise
Do you dread a gym session after a long day at work and a tiring commute? Combine your exercise and commute in one by cycling, walking or even running to work and add extra time to relax to your day. If you need to look sharp in the morning, then try commuting just on your way into work. A change of clothes and some products to freshen you up are all you need otherwise to get started healthily.
And according to a 2012 study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, people with longer commutes had higher blood pressure, bigger waistlines, and were less fit than those who worked closer to home. Why not turn that around and look better, feel healthier and get that good rush of endorphins for your morning meeting?
Update your audiobook and podcast list
If you work in a remote location and require your car to get you where you need to be, your time doesn’t need to be wasted. Downloading audiobooks and keeping up to date with podcasts are the ideal opportunity to either unwind by listening to your favourite fictional story, or become more knowledgeable about your area of work. Entrepreneur released this list of the best podcasts for entrepreneurs in 2017 – our favourite is Entrepreneur On Fire, a podcast which interviews inspiring businessmen and women 7 days a week.
Unwind with relaxing music
Listening to music will either get you pumped up or get you relaxed depending on what you listen to and it’s the perfect way to drown out the deafening hum of other commuters on their way to work. If you listen to something energising on the morning commute, try switching it out in the evening for something that gives you the motivation to relax and calm down for the evening.
Luckily for you, scientists have discovered the most relaxing tune ever. If you want to get started on putting together an end-of-day playlist, here’s their top 10 recommendations:
- Marconi Union and Lyz Cooper – Weightless
- Airstream – Electra
- DJ Shah – Mellomaniac (Chill Out Mix)
- Enya – Watermark
- Coldplay – Strawberry Swing
- Barcelona – Please Don’t Go
- All Saints – Pure Shores
- Adele – Someone Like You
- Mozart – Canzonetta Sull’aria
- Cafe Del Mar – We Can Fly
Smiling, real or fake – has phenomenal benefits. It makes you more approachable, helps retrain your brain, strengthen the body and in relation to your commute, smiles reduce stress. A 2015 study discovered the following:
“In the journal Psychological Science, University of Kansas psychological scientists Tara Kraft and Sarah Pressman studied 170 participants who were told to hold chopsticks in their mouths in three formations, making them smile to various degrees without realizing it, after performing a stressful task. The experiment revealed that subjects who smiled the biggest with the chopsticks experienced a substantial reduction in heart rate and quicker stress recovery compared to those whose expressions remained neutral.”
Believe it or not, cracking a grin could do wonders for your mood on your commute (and in turn your stress, and your productivity), giving some truth to the fake it ‘till you make it crowd.
Prioritise your goals for the day
While we mentioned you shouldn’t focus on your work during your commute, it can definitely help to think about what needs to get done when. Checking emails, scheduling a call or meeting and replying to anything you missed yesterday afternoon can be a productive way to hit the ground running when you reach the office; after all, those activities that take up one (okay, two) tea breaks in the morning have already been finished.
Career coach Rita Friedman talks about the benefits of prioritising: “By creating a to-do list and prioritizing the day’s responsibilities, you’re setting yourself up to have a more organized and focused workday.”
Use all that spare time to leave on time instead!