Pave the Way for a Mindful Workday – 6 Ways to Make Your Commute Work for You

Raise your hand if you actively enjoy your commute. I would wager, that the majority of the working world would not consider a commute to be ‘fun’, by any stretch. It can be a stress-inducing timesink, caught up in the post-pandemic swell of crowds on public transport, sitting in gridlock or stewing in road rage, and paying spiralling petrol and season ticket prices for the pleasure. 

On average, people around the world spend 76 minutes per day commuting. According to the Office for National Statistics, women are more likely than men to leave their job because of a longer commute. As the main providers of childcare and unpaid work, women tend to favour the flexibility offered by a shorter commute. On the other hand, men are more likely to tolerate a longer journey to work in return for higher pay.

Remote and home working have distinct advantages and disadvantages, that vary from individual to individual. Commutes are a critical piece of the puzzle – and yet there can also be benefits found in a commuter journey.

Walking or cycling to work can provide numerous health benefits to both your physical and mental wellbeing, and helps to lower your carbon footprint. The journey to and from the office can also serve a useful psychological purpose. Studies have put forward the idea of “boundary theory”, the distance between our personal lives and our work lives. Commuting can facilitate a physical and psychological shift between roles. Working from home can sometimes be a double-edged sword for this reason – cutting out the commute can help people strike a clearer work-life balance, or hinder it, by blurring the divide between work and home.

So perhaps we can look at commutes from a fresh perspective. Learning to like (or even love) your commute means moving your mindset from viewing a commute as a waste of time, to viewing your journey as a valuable window of time to switch from home mode to work mode. By changing up your commute, you may discover a great way to get more out of your day, reduce stress or learn something new.

Getting a jump start on your day

Depending on your mode of travel, commuting can be a great opportunity for productivity. It can be a good opportunity to spend a small portion of time writing emails, making calls or brainstorming ideas. On the way to work, you could make a mental or physical note of the day’s key tasks and goals. On the way home, you could make a note of what went right in your day, so that when you arrive home, you’re not dragging and of the negativity of the day home with you!

Use the time to catch up with loved ones

As long as it is hands-free and safe to do so, a commute can be an opportune time to catch up with family and friends. If, like me, you are the sort of person that lets their social media or WhatsApp messages pile up until the pressure to reply becomes too great, then here is your window of opportunity. Set aside some time in your journey to touch base with your nearest and dearest, and make any long-overdue replies in a dedicated window in your day, to help lessen that pressure of being always online.

Take some time to learn

Your journey can also potentially be an excellent window of time to practice self-improvement. If you walk to work or travel via public transport, there are some excellent apps out there for this, that break lessons down into bitesize commuter-friendly lessons, such as:

 

Learning like this is known as ‘microlearning’, and can be an effective way to learn a new skill and broaden the scope of your knowledge.

If you’re driving, need to be hands-free or need something less interactive, then podcasts can be a great avenue for learning, with topics for all tastes.

Disconnect from your workday with a good book

A good work of fiction can really help to disconnect from your workday and reduce stress. Alternatively, the short-form nature of poetry makes it particularly well-suited for commutes.

While e-readers are particularly convenient for travel, a physical book or magazine can be great for letting your eyes rest if you work at a computer, preventing eye strain.

Or switch off with a podcast or TV show

If you’re on public transport and have the pleasure of possessing a Netflix subscription, here’s a list of shows to watch depending on commute length.

Or, lighten the load by listening to a funny podcast – studies show the benefits of laughter, improving mood, reducing stress and boosting your immune system. 

Meditation and mindfulness

There are opportunities for mindfulness in all types of commuter journeys. Naturally, it’s a little trickier if you’re driving, but you can utilise the opportunity of alone time for some deep breathing exercises. Deep breathing stimulates the vagus nerve, helping the body’s relaxation response, reducing blood pressure, bringing down your heart rate and lowering stress levels.

If you’re sick of aimlessly scrolling on your phone, consider trying to keep yourself present and watch your surroundings – watch people and objects, and pay particular attention to the sights and sounds. It might just give you a spark of inspiration. 

Depending on how busy it is on your journey, public transport can lend itself well to meditation. Meditating before or after work can lengthen your attention span, help control anxiety and promote wellbeing. There are lots of great apps out there, including Headspace, Calm and Insight Timer, that are commuter-friendly with guided meditation techniques, or journaling and breathing exercises.

Alternatively, consider making a move to where the grass is greener

If none of the above help to make your commute work better for you, there is another alternative – finding a new role that better serves your needs. Climate17 is an international, purpose-led recruitment firm, working across the Renewable Energy and Sustainability sectors. We have a wealth of roles, and your best interests at heart – we can help you find the remote, hybrid, region-spanning or fixed-location role that’d be the best fit for you. View our live list of Renewable Energy and Sustainability jobs, or get in touch with us today.

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