How to Be More Productive While You Commute to Work

Paul Ellett


Some days there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to finish all the work you have to do. On top of tasks, both short-term and long-term, things crop up which have to be dealt with there and then, which push you back even further. Deadlines coming up which have to be reached can mean several nights staying late at the office, or spending your evening and weekend working. All of this can mean missing out on the things you would rather be doing with your family and friends.

How Can We Be More Productive On the Commute To Work?

The thing is, those of us who commute to work, whether by car or public transport, spend a long time traveling. This can be up to an hour or even more doing one of the following rather wasteful activities:

  • Listening to the same music as the day before
  • Browsing Facebook on your phone
  • when everyone you know is either still in bed, also traveling or simply not doing anything interesting
  • Stuck trying not to make awkward direct eye-contact with the person in front of you
  • Staring out of your window at the same sights you see everyday
  • Catching up on sleep which only makes you feel more tired when you arrive, or being jerked awake each time your head hits the back of your seat.

Rather than passing the time, we could be using it.

How to Be More Productive While You Commute to Work

We can do so much more with this time. We can get rid of those troublesome smaller tasks that hold us back once we arrive at work. We can also use commute time to help get ahead in other ways through research and learning. Here are some ways to make commuting time more useful and productive.

1: Plan Your Day

Though you sometimes have to wait and see what is on the agenda before you can plan your day (and even this might change as the day goes on), you can get a rough idea of what you have to do. Make a list of these things, starting with the easy things which will make you feel like you’ve accomplished something by the middle of the morning. This might also include firing off some emails so you can get quick replies when those people check their email first thing; this way you’ll be their main priority to get back to rather than your message being one of ten they receive come 9am.

2: Research Through People-Watching

If you work in advertising or marketing, keep your ears and eyes open. It seems a little redundant if you work in these areas, to be surrounded by tens to hundreds of people (from a variety of backgrounds, ages etc) each day and ignore them. This can be valuable research which can help you with projects you’re working on. By simply keeping your eyes and ears open while you travel, you can get a grasp of what people are reading/wearing/listening to. If you overhear their conversations, listen to what they say and how they convey this. This kind of rough insight can also help your approach if you work in sales, simply by giving you tips for conversation to break the ice.

3: Listen to Podcasts

Many are seeing podcasts as a revolution that will deal a further death nail into the heart of the morning commuter’s favourite, radio. Let’s face it: most radio is useless. The music playlists are often the same each day, and the conversation is hardly ground-breaking. For those still waking up who don’t anything too heavy, this is fine; but for those with long journeys who wish to make the most of this time, you should look into podcasts. There is just so much to choose from, depending on your taste. While you can subscribe to comedy or entertainment podcasts, you might find it more useful to research and download a series of motivational podcasts or those which teach something, like a new language. You’ll probably be able to find a series of podcasts relevant to your industry so you can get the latest news through another medium.

Of course, most of these are best to utilize when on public transport. If you drive to work, you can still listen to podcasts, though people-watching may distract you from driving, so be wary of this. Being productive while you travel to work won’t mean much in the grand scheme of things if you receive a driving ban (whether temporary or permanent). It’s always more important that you make it to your destination safely without harming anyone else on the road, than not at all.

Author’s Bio:
Paul has just started to travel to work via public transport, and has been trying to use this time more usefully, as this commute is quite long each day. This experience has helped him in his work with a firm of drink driving solicitors whose clients include those caught for multi-tasking while driving.

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