How To Make Your Commute Work For You

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Commutes are almost universally derided as one of the worst parts of our days. Whether it’s on our way to work or on the way home, a bad commute is soul-crushing and not an unheard of or unreasonable reason to look for another job.

There are a few things about commutes that make them so bad—and make a good commute such a commodity: 1) they signal the beginning of the workday, which no one enjoys, 2) if we drive, we’re likely to get caught in traffic, which is one of the world’s greatest unpleasant experiences, 3) if we take public transit, not only is it going to be super crowded, but delays are likely (thanks, local municipality), and 4) we rarely commute without a deadline—work starts at 9am and we need to be there at 9am.

All these being considered, it’s high time we began to reclaim this time slot and make our commute more enjoyable. No more dreading getting behind the wheel of our car or swiping our transit card. Let’s reframe our commutes and start doing whatever we can to enjoy it as much as possible. Here’s how:

MINDFULNESS

People the world over tout the benefits of mindfulness, be it a meditation or breathing exercise, or something as simple as slower, more deliberate eating. Meditation and breathing practices allow us to exist in the now without outside distraction, and slower, more deliberate eating allows us to truly appreciate and enjoy our food.

If we were to implement a mindfulness-based routine in the morning before we left, our commute would be far less daunting. It could be meditation, or going to the gym, or simply carving out 45 minutes just for us—shower, make breakfast, read the paper, whatever. Whatever we need to do to help ease our minds for the coming day, let’s do it. We just have to make sure we’re purposeful about it and stick to it. It’s going to be tough to start, but the benefits will show soon enough, I promise.

IF YOU DRIVE TO WORK

Commuting by car is interesting because we’re surrounded by thousands of people and yet we’re completely isolated—we all kind of live in our own bubble of existence when we’re in our cars. Well, instead of us silently seething and getting riled up by thinking about work, let’s bop our heads to some great tune-age. We can channel our inner angst-ridden teenager and build ourselves a playlist of our favorite songs and scream-sing along with them. It could be a super chill playlist to help us Zen out, or it could be a raging, blood-pumping playlist to get us hyped for the day. It doesn’t really matter as long as it makes us feel better.

Music isn’t everyone’s cup o’ tea, which I get (I don’t), but all hope is not lost for the musically uninclined among us, because audio books! I know, they aren’t the sexiest thing in the world, but audiobooks are magic. Getting lost in a faraway world while commuting to work? Sign me up. Sounds a helluva lot better than staring angrily into the endless sea of red lights up ahead.

IF YOU PUBLICLY TRANSPORT TO WORK

Public transportation is just like driving a car to work, except without the driving part. Instead, we’re mere passengers, which gives us the opportunity to better utilize the commute. This means that we can still listen, and dance, to some great music, or get lost in the narrative of an audio book, but it also means we can read or even strike up a conversation with another person. I know that’s hard, and so is reading while moving, but the opportunity is there. If that doesn’t sound super appealing, we can still take the 20-40 minutes of our commute in silence and not think about anything (#meditation). Whatever we decide to do let’s just try to improve a part of our days that we have very little control over. It’ll go a long way toward making our days better overall.

Until next time – I’ll see you in the office.

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Arye

When Arye isn't helping optimize your time, he is doing his part to ensure life is full of shenanigans.