Commuting can start your workday with a drag and end it with a slog. Here are 10 tips on starting and ending your commute with a smile.
RELATED: Your daily commute is making you fat
1. Engage your brain
Between podcasts and audiobooks, there are thousands of different ways to give your brain some exercise while you wait for your stop or exit.
A good audiobook reader can make the difference between getting through a book you always mean to read and not. And, virtually every library has audiobooks available for free.
2. Explore new music
Anyone with internet access during a commute can investigate a streaming station filled with all-new music or old favorites.
Spotify, Pandora or any number of streaming services can introduce you to music you never find on standard FM and AM dials. Playlist a Day is a service worth investigated – it sends you a curated Spotify playlist every day.
3. Take care of yourself
While commuting time often feels like dead time, it’s a great time to take care of yourself and others.
If you’ve got a train ride between work and home, use the time to email or text a friend or loved one and connect with them. Or, use the time to figure out your plan for the day (or the next day) so you can feel ahead of the game when you get into the office.
Anything you can do to recharge and prepare instead of stressing about the commute will be a bonus to yourself.
4. Adjust your schedule a bit
If you’ve got a job that is at least a little flexible on when you come in and when you leave, you can adjust your schedule to avoid the most stressful rush hours. The difference between a 25-minute commute and a 35-40 minute commute can be huge for your state of mind.
5. Start early
If you don’t have flexible hours, making the effort to get up a little earlier can have multiple rewards. You can stop for coffee and breakfast, or just get into the office that much earlier to work in relative peace and quiet before everyone comes in.
Either way, avoiding the morning crush is a boon unto itself.
6. Review daily
This can be tricky, because it is easy to get sucked into actual work. That’s not what the purpose of this is, though.
The idea is to review whether or not you (or your team) are working on the right priorities and figure out what you want to tackle first. Feeling as if you have priorities in order can get your day off to a good start and end your day with a sense of accomplishment.
7. Find a better way
This seems as if it might be basic commuting skills, but many people just learn one way to work and never bother to explore the options.
Think of it like navigating a maze – it’ll exercise your brain. Maybe it is as simple as side streets instead of the highway, or the scenic route instead of the direct approach.
Or, it could mean driving part of the way and taking mass transit the rest of the trip. Play with the options.
We’ve mentioned plenty of work and brain-related ideas, but it is important to just disconnect and let your brain wander.
Don’t read anything, don’t check your work email, turn off your phone, and just relax and be in the moment. Give your brain a break and a chance to refresh. The world will keep turning if you take a half-hour or so to just concentrate on getting where you need to go safely and in one piece.
Speaking of ways to refresh your brain, try meditation. You don’t need a special room to find inner peace – in fact, you’ll find it easier to meditate after you’ve been able to calm your mind on a crowded and noisy commuter train.
Remember, it’s about making sure that wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, you’re there, present, and your mind isn’t wandering off to the next thing you have to do.
10. Get rid of it
Commuting rarely does anyone any good — studies have shown it takes a toll on your health. Look into what can be done remotely — that’s becoming a more viable option for many businesses.
If you’re determined, you can look into moving closer to work, or possibly closer to a mass transit stop that has a stop close to your office.