You wake up on a Tuesday morning, around 7:00 am. After snoozing your alarm once, with all your might you drag yourself out of bed and get ready for the day. You just about have time for a quick breakfast before you make your way to work.
You arrive at the metro… it’s busy. Waiting at the platform, you see countless competitors arrive for your rightful place on the busy metro carriage.
You miss the train because someone needed the extra space for their bike!
Does this sound like your commute to work? I must admit, I’m a little spoiled these days. I have had jobs that required me to drive and then catch multiple trains. In the winter I remember scraping the ice off my windshield with one hand and attempting to eat my cereal with the other.
I vowed, never again. Today, I live just a 5-minute walk from work.
A difficult commute to work was not conducive to productivity when I arrived. I was either in a bad mood or I’d spend the first part of my morning drying off from the rain, or changing into my work clothes because it was too hot to wear a suit.
While not everyone has the option of living close to work, especially in the city, there are ways to improve your commute.
1. Go to bed and wake up earlier
Probably easier said than done. We’re all guilty of hitting the snooze button one too many times or binge-watching The Office hours after we should have gone to sleep. If you can reorganize your routine however, you’ll find yourself much happier in the long run.
More time in the morning means you can eat a full breakfast (I recommend breakfast tacos), you won’t have to rush and risk forgetting something important, and you may even have time to walk. Also, the earlier you leave, it’s more likely you will beat rush hour.
Treat yourself before you arrive at work in the morning. If you give yourself something small to look forward to, it’ll give you more incentive to leave the house on time and improve your mood.
This can be something as simple as buying a fancy latte, taking 20 minutes to read, or even walking your dog a little longer. Whatever brings you joy in the morning, give yourself the time to do it.
3. Negotiate with your boss to start earlier and finish earlier
If your commute is really causing you difficulty because you live far away or there’s temporary maintenance on your route, ask your boss if you can make different arrangements. Many organizations are open to flexible working hours, providing you have proven yourself a reliable employee.
It may be that you can start an hour earlier and finish an hour earlier to avoid rush-hour.
4. Entertain yourself
Find a way to entertain yourself during the stressful morning commute. More and more people extoll the virtues of podcasts as an opportunity to learn and entertain themselves. For others, music or reading is the answer.
Whatever brings you joy in the morning, use it to ease the stress of your commute and put yourself in the right frame of mind before work.
Somehow the commute home doesn’t feel as bad because you’re heading home to dinner rather than a busy workday.
Your evening commute can be tedious however, especially when you spend it in traffic. Whenever I go to a sports event or concert, where many people are battling to get out of the same venue, I have always used the opportunity to go to a bar or have an evening stroll to avoid waiting around. By the time I decide to go home, my journey is far easier.
I recommend the same with your commute home. If the rush hour is making your journey miserable, take extra time to run errands nearby, grab coffee with coworkers, or go to a gym near the office. By the time you have done that, your journey will be much smoother.
Too many people consider their commute the worst part of their day. It doesn’t have to be!