It’s not worth thinking about how long we all spend during our daily commutes. They’re the one constant in working life, but they can also be incredibly tiresome.
The good news? You can actually use that commuting time to become more productive than you ever thought possible.
There’s a reason you see so many people tapping away on laptops on trains or hear your colleague tell you about how valuable her favourite podcast has proved each morning during the way into work. They’re all using their commute to maximum effect.
Some of the tips in this post will only apply to certain methods of transport (i.e. you definitely don’t want to read a book while driving), but the key lies in spotting the things you could do for your commute and making them a habit.
Ready? Let’s make that commute far more productive and enjoyable!
Don’t Think You Have to Go Digital
Let’s start by confirming that, even in this digital world, you don’t have to do everything on your smartphone or laptop. Depending on the type of commute you have each day, an analogue approach might be far more productive.
Think about it – how often does your battery run out on your device when you’re in the middle of something on the train? It’s a nightmare, but it’s not something that happens with a notebook and pen.
An old school notebook and pen will ensure you can take notes and get stuff done with no worries about battery power.
Get Addicted to a Podcast
Podcasting has enjoyed a huge resurgence in recent years, and it’s one of the best ways to immerse yourself in learning and advice.
The best thing is that you can indulge in podcasts no matter where you are. And, if you find one or two shows you like, you’ll quickly become addicted.
Try searching for shows in your industry or that are produced by your favourite influencers. Subscribe, download the latest episodes before you head off and get those headphones locked on. You can even try our own podcast, backlight.
Get Back Into Reading
The art of reading a good book has unfortunately been lost on many of us, thanks to smartphone addiction and the many other ways we can consume content in the digital age.
However, if you undertake a train or bus journey each day to travel to and from work, reading is a great way to pass the time and learn while you’re at it.
Start small and buy a few books that you’ve always wanted to read, or which are recommended for people in your industry. You may just fall in love with reading again.
Guess what – you don’t have to do anything during your commute if you don’t feel like it. If reading, writing or email checking just doesn’t interest you during that time, why not use the time to think.
Get your head around a few topics or challenges you’re currently facing and think them through. Close your eyes, pop on a chilled-out playlist and just think everything through.
Tackle Those ‘Would Be Nice’ To-Dos
If you’re an avid to-do list user, you’ll probably have a separate list full of things you’ve put off or earmarked for future completion.
These ‘would be nice’ to-dos often get forgotten entirely, but your daily commute might be the perfect time to start making headway with them.
They’re on that list for a reason, and if you can grab a bit of time before and after work to tackle those to-dos, they may actually become a reality.
Make It Your Email Time
Email is incredibly valuable at work, but it’s also a big-time suck.
With that in mind, why not use your daily commute to bash through email? It isn’t something you should be doing throughout the day, anyway, so picking specific periods when it becomes your focus will help you reach that all-important Inbox Zero mindset.
People will also get used to you emailing and replying at that time, so it might work in your favour.
Clue Yourself up on Industry News
Do you know what’s really going on in your industry? With hectic days in the office and out at client meetings, keeping up-to-speed on the happenings in your industry is very difficult.
Use your commuting time to delve into industry news. You can do this on websites, social media or podcasts. However you do it, make it a habit, and you’ll always be on the pulse with what matters.
Reflect on What You Did Yesterday
What did you achieve yesterday? Was it a productive day or did you miss out on opportunities?
A retrospective look at yesterday’s achievements and failings is a great use of commute time. Just make sure you make some notes (which leads us onto the next tip).
The reflection you undertake on the day previous is an ideal opportunity to start writing a journal.
Journaling is a great way to get the stuff that’s swimming around your head onto paper and into something to which you can refer in future.
The best news? All you need is a pen and notebook to get started – nothing more. So, why not use your commuting time to note down your thoughts, wishes and learnings?
Manage Your To-Do List
How on top of your to-do list are you? It’s a daily task in itself, but that’s part of the problem – people often have little time to undertake the all-important management process of their to-do list.
This is where the daily commute can be an absolute godsend. So, use that time to review what you’ve set yourself for the day and move tasks around until you have a realistic expectation of what you can achieve.
See? Commuting doesn’t have to feel like an enormous waste of time, does it?
The best news about using that time to be productive is that you’ll gear yourself up for the day ahead, ensuring you’re awake, fresh and raring to crack on when you get to the office.
You’ll also gain back time that you’d otherwise use during the day to get stuff done. And that means you’ll be able to divert the time you suddenly have in hand to other ventures, or even to grab an earlier finish. Imagine that!
Enjoy your daily commute – it’s a hidden productivity nirvana.