There are up to 3.7 million commuters now travelling for more than 2 hours a day. Those 2-plus hours are now part of the work or leisure day for a lot of us; a chance to catch up on ourselves, develop our minds, or just unwind. How can you make the most of your commute?
1. Catch up on a world of media
As social media marketers and free newspaper/magazine distributors know, commuting is the ideal time to feast your eyes on a daily fix of news, knowledge and entertainment.
Audiobooks and podcasts are also the way forward. Think of them as the smart way to get up to speed on the culture, politics and discussions of the moment.
And of course, there’s no such thing as missing your favourite show when you can take the likes of Netflix, Amazon Video and BBC’s iPlayer with you. You might have to dodge spoilers from the night before, but that’s part of the fun!
2. Learn a new skill
Ever fancied learning French, Tagalog, or Esperanto? Or do you urgently need to, with a foreign business trip coming up? Grab an app like Duolingo that teaches languages through listening, speaking and writing exercises – and there are multiple podcasts that can help boost your vocabulary.
Perhaps continuing your professional development or gaining extra skills for a side project is what you need, which is where professional training search sites like Findcourses can set you on the right path. The Open University is also targeting commuters – apparently 70% of their current students are in full-time work!
3. Rest and recharge
If you’re up or back home at ‘silly o’clock’, then just catch up on your sleep! A power nap could be what your brain needs to be firing on all cylinders in the office. If you’re lucky enough to be seated, then you’re well away.
Likewise, sleep might not be what you need (or can get if you’re standing up). Mindfulness apps like Headspace can help reduce anxiety and promote feelings of ‘awareness and compassion’. You’ll definitely need to draw on those feelings when you hear the phrases ‘severe delays’ or ‘lunchtime meeting’.
4. Organise your work time
When you get home late or after a long day, the prospect of spending the evening thinking about meetings, work and admin is distinctly unappealing. Use your commute to sort through emails, organise your diary and tidy up any pieces of work you’re doing.
5. Make it social
If your colleagues get the same morning or evening train, and they’re usually up for a chat, then you’ve got the perfect means to get to know them better. For those of you who drive and could do with some friendly company, offer to give colleagues a lift if they’re nearby. You may even surprise yourself and develop some long-term friendships.
6. Train instead of just taking the train
It’s easy to build fitness into your commute, or make your commute all about the exercise. Fitness trackers like Fitbits can track your steps if you’re a runner or route-marcher, while government initiatives like Cyclescheme help spread the cost of cycling with tax-free bikes.
If you’d rather not take your chances on the roads, look into gym memberships near your office (with corporate discounts) or home for maximum convenience. Either way, getting in some exercise is just what you need to counteract long hours of sitting to, from and at work.