Have you ever considered your commute time as a valuable means to your success at work?
The average commute time of US workers, according to Statista, ranged between 24 and 30 minutes in 2018. It’s easy to calculate that you have some 200 hours of commute time in a single year, which equals to 8,000 hours in a lifetime.
Imagine if this precious time is spent on meaningful activities …
What I found during my commute is that …
- 20 percent of passengers is sleeping on the morning train
- Other 75 percent is staring out the window or playing with phones
- Only the remaining 5 percent is holding a book—fiction mostly
It seems that most of us waste precious time to grow.
This post is going to show you how you can make your commute more productive.
#1: Do the nasty things on your morning commute
Could you tell me, hand on your heart, that you never fall prey to the news and social media in the morning?
What if you do the nasty things on your commute and not in the office?
- See what’s new on social media
- Check the news
- Text a friend
- Catch up on email
- Or do what you would normally do when you hit the office
You can then focus on your most important tasks as soon as you are sitting at your desk.
Pro tip: while replying business emails early in the morning seems a valuable activity, I believe that getting your most important tasks done should come first. Processing email is, as Cal Newport phrased it, shallow work.
#2: Plan out your day
Your morning commute is the perfect time to check your to-do list. Identify the most important items on the list and make sure that you get them done in the morning.
Don’t miss to check your not-to-do list. This is a simple list of tasks and activities that you don’t do anymore.
- Because they can be automated
- Because they can be delegated
- Because they can be eliminated
These activities are your non-negotiables. Until you become bulletproof in that sense, it’s a good practice to consult your not-to-do list every morning.
#3: Learn a new skill
The morning train offers a nice opportunity to acquire new skills. Learning a foreign language was never easier. Many language books come with a dedicated mobile app.
What I found extremely useful, however, was the online platform Coursera. You can earn certificates and degrees online from top universities. If you don’t want to commit yourself to a certain course or don’t want to earn a certificate, you can access most of the materials for free. Coursera comes with a powerful mobile app, which perfectly fits your commute.
#4: Read non-fiction
You might already know that I’m a firm advocate of eBooks. Just by reading my Kindle on the train, I read 20+ books per year. It’s no exaggeration to say that this practice literally changed my life.
You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.― Charlie “Tremendous” Jones
… So, I can say that my commute has changed who am I today.
You can make your commute more productive by immersing in self-help books and industry-related stuff. Just do a quick math exercise: with a total of 60 minutes commute time per day, you could digest at least two books in a month without claiming a single minute from your agenda. This practice might position you as a well-educated if not a leading expert in your industry.
Commuting by car? Try audiobooks.
#5: Introduce TWWT (Thinking-While-Walking-Time)
Mix up your commute by introducing some walking into your schedule. Nothing beats walking when it comes to brainstorming new ideas.
My greatest answers to the most painful situations were all born during my TWWT practice.
So, don’t hesitate to carve out some thinking time from your commute. Read on to figure out how …
#6: Use your commute as an anchor habit
Anchor habits are core habits that make it easy to form new habits. By leveraging my commute as an anchor habit …
- I stopped buying my favorite bakery product
- I integrated regular (2 x 20 minutes) walking into my days
- I left the office at a certain time every day
That’s simple physics: if you build in spatio-temporal barriers, you’ll inevitably develop new habits. And after a while, you are going to find yourself on autopilot.
If you change your route or mix up your means of transport, amazing things could happen. Here are a few ideas that you may want to consider:
- Park your car in a remote location
- Get off the bus before your final destination
- Take the train instead of the bus
- Get on your bike
- Take your bike on the train
It’s your turn to make your commute more productive
By adopting the ideas above, hopefully, your dead boring commute turns into a rewarding experience. Something that you’ll look forward to.
If you liked this post, make sure that you share it with a friend and a colleague.
More about a productive commute
- 7 Ridiculously Simple Tips to Get Organized at Work
- Three Surprising Tips That Will Transform Your Approach to Fight Bad Habits
- How to Read 20+ Books Per Year Without Claiming a Single Minute from Your Calendar