If you’re someone who’s working a 9-5 job, you may feel time poor on your work days. With long commutes, it may feel as though there just aren’t enough hours in a day to work, exercise and unwind.
I’m here to bust that myth. Instead of feeling helpless, it’s time to get strategic and change the way you use your work commutes. Rather than feeling frustrated that you’re sitting in traffic or commuting on public transport, you can begin to view this as an opportunity to practice self-care.
If you can, spend a few minutes reflecting on how you currently fill your time during your work commutes. If you catch public transport, are you staring out the window or scrolling aimlessly through your social media feeds? And if you’re driving to work, do you have the radio on as background noise? And finally, how do you feel when you arrive at work or come home? My guess is, pretty indifferent because you’ve just spent a while passing the time rather than doing something that lights you up.
If you answered yes to one of the above questions, it’s time to make a change. Use this time to your advantage by listening to a podcast, an audio book or an online course if you’re driving. If you aren’t driving, you could do one of the above or read a book, watch an online course or create new content if you have a passion project you’re working on. Switch your perspective and start to view your commutes as an opportunity to do something that makes you feel good rather than finding something to just fill the time.
Once you add up how much time you spend commuting each week, you can begin to see how much of an opportunity there is to engage in a mindful activity. What activity do you wish you had more time for? Is it watching documentaries, reading books or listening to podcasts? If it’s an activity you can safely do on your commute, use this time to start incorporating it into your day and notice how your mood improves. Sometimes, it’s not about finding more time, it’s just about evaluating how you are currently spending your time and choosing to invest it differently.
If you’re a little skeptical, I’d encourage you to download a phone application which gives you an insight into how much time you’re spending on your phone during the day. When I was complaining to my partner about my long commutes and how I didn’t have time to do anything which made me feel good, I looked at how much time I was spending on my phone and I knew I needed to make a change.
I could easily spend an hour or two on social media platforms in a day and once I saw how I was using my time, I made changes. When I was commuting on public transport, I carried a book with me. I was able to get back into reading and it was a beautiful way to start and end a work day. Now that I’m driving to work again, I’ve started listening to podcasts rather than the radio and I’ve learned a lot. I’ve actually started looking forward to my work commutes again because I get to spend this time learning about topics I’m interested in.
With the screen time application holding me accountable, I was able to make a change – starting the following day. For me, it was an enlightening moment and the motivation I needed to change. It’s easy to play a victim with long commutes but if you enjoy your job or don’t have the luxury of moving closer to where you work, then you will need to find ways to make the most of the situation.
I hope this post gives you some actionable tips and ways to help you make the most of your work commutes. If you have any feedback or ideas for others, I’d love to hear about it in a comment below.