Make The Most Out Of Your Commute - Here Is How!

When you are like me you probably commute to work every day. That means, you will be spending a big part of your lifein a vehicle (e.g. train, bus, bike or car) to get to and from work. Those commutes can take everything from 5 minutes up to 60+ minutes per commute. If you want to get an impression on how commuting takes place in the US, have a look at the link below provided by the WNYC:http://project.wnyc.org/commute-times-us

What I want to share with you today is how you can design your commute to make the most out of it and stay on top of your game, health and state of mind. Since the very nature of traveling via bus, car (still waiting on autonomous driving) or bike is different I wouldn't recommend every tipp for every vehicle! Just don't read a book on your bike...

We Start With The Most Profound Option: Walking

When you are lucky enough to have your workplace so close to your home that you can walk, (we could also assume that you work from home and take a quick walk in the morning) this is a perfect occasion to start your morning. Use this opportunity to get your metabolism running, enjoy some of your favorite tunes or take a few snapshots with your phone of the sun rising or a normally crowded street now totally empty. I can assure you, you'll feel more enegerized when you engage in an activity early in the morning like taking snapshots and listening to your favorite songs while doing it. It puts you automatically in a good mood and help you to start up those senses of yours. Perhaps you'll visit your local coffee bar on the way and have a nice chat with your favorite barrista. The thing is, you'll go to work with a smile on your face and you'll probably have a positive arua around you that will spread like wildfire in your office. I recommend you try this, especially in the summer time when the morning is bright and warm. Even if you are not a morning-person, this morning routine could help you overcome the overwhelming grumpiness... I speak from experience! Just observe how your environment changes and reacts differently to your new approach.

The Next Best Thing: Taking The Bus Or Train

Public transportation. It keeps you grounded, you do something for the environment and you can just sit there and let time pass. This is also my favorite way of commuting. I take a combination of train and busses everyday to work for several years now and I still can't get enough of it, here is why:

It'll take probably around 20 - 60 minutes for you to arrive at the office, so you got some real quality time for yourself here. Thanks to modern technology you are also able to blend out everything through noise cancelling headphones and you can really zoom out. Although most people might use this to check up on and write work mails or private mails, check Social Media or simply browse the web, make sure to use this time also to do something you like to improve morale, creativity and inspiration. For example: read a book! And I don't mean a magazine, a newspaper or something work related, I'm talking about a novel. Why is that? I'd like to quote one of my recent favorite authors and one of his characters:

“A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.” Tyrion Lannister (A Song of Ice and Fire) written by Georoge R.R. Martin

Novels keep you fresh, you get inspired by characters, their stories and also have something to talk about at a social gathering. Espeically fantasy provides a great basis for creativity, as your mind explores the impossible or the strange. It may improve your empathy, when you really feel with a character and my chose to try out to think about the perspective of your co-workers as well. Novels help you immerse in a different world that might help you to think outside of the box, a skill that novadays everybody is talking about and that you probably won't learn in any modern school (unfortunately).

You may also take the time and write creatively (like a future blog post, like this one), you could listen to music, an audiobook or even watch your favortie show on your mobile device. Catching up on these activites on the morning or after work on your way back home, gives you more free time at home, because you already fulfilled that desire to watch the newest episode of your favorite show or to read that chapter in your book. We tend to do this late in the evening or before going to sleep, but don't you feel tired than and can't really enjoy doing that without having a bad conscious about getting up early the next morning? I'm just saying that you can use this time, when your mind is still active and get some catching up to do. Another benefit of this apporach is, that you will think the time just flies by. Just think about the natural lenght of a sitcom (20 minutes per episode - e.g. Modern Family) or drama series (45 - 60 minutes per episode - e.g. True Detective), it won't feel that long and you will be already be ready to tackle your work more focused. It may also give you some good ideas for your work, as a Marketer I can recommend watching Mad Men, a series about the advertising people in the fifties, some episodes are truely inspirational and can trigger a great train of thought. Give it a try.  

 Behind The Wheel: DrivingC

The time you take to work might be similar to taking a bus or train but you got the comfort of a car of your own or maybe a corporate pool car. Whatever the situation, in comparison to the other possibilities of commuting, you'll have more tasks to handle and possible a more stressful way to work - stuck on the autobahn - sounds familiar? Your constant attention is required and you can't use your hands (but soon there will be autonomous driving, so heads up!) and you can't move that much. So the only free sense to you that you can stimulate is your hearing. I think most people alreadylisten to the radio, traffic news, music etc. pp. so what else is there to do? Let me tell you:

The more conservative route here is listening to an audio book. Very similar to the novel option, this is the closest you can get to reading in a car. Choose something that interests you and find someone you like who reads it - nowadays many books are read by celebrities, for example check out Anne Hathaway reading "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" by L. Frank Baum or Johnny Depp reading Keith Richard's "Life". You may also listen to a podcast of a relevant topic you need to be up-to-date on. The possibilities are endless...

A more "avant-garde " approach you can do in your car is...and I'm serious, is singing. I know, this might sound strange, unrealistic or just terrible. You tried singing once and it was aweful... I know, but just hear me out. It was scientifically proven that singing does a lot of good stuff to your health, read more about it in this Time article: http://ideas.time.com/2013/08/16/singing-changes-your-brain

However, you don't have to sing well, because usually nobody sits with you in your car (in case you practice car sharing or pooling, try out group singing!) the sheer act of doing might work wonders for your health and voice. Singing along with the radio or your personal playlist, makes you happy. Especially when you need to talk a lot at work or often have early meetings, singing in the morning boosts your mood and your voice warms up. Additionally you will feel less tired and more energetic, at least these are the effects I experienced personally. In gerneral I recommend you to sing more often, in the car, under the shower or while cooking, you might be suprised on how good you sound over time. In the long run it will benefit your confidence and self awareness, you might even pick up a better speaking pattern with improved pronounciation or a much more intersting cadence.

In the end there is so much you can do - decide for yourself.

These are just some personal tipps from my end, that helped me improve my commute and that I'd recommend to everyone who is open to new ideas.

What is your recipe for a successful commute? I'd love to hear about your experience commuting. Please let me know when you try something new.

Thanks for reading

Sebastian