Posted by Robert Half on 06 October 2014
How much time do you spend during your commute to work and back each day? If you're lucky, the office is only a small drive or bus trip away, so you can go from your own front doorstep to your desk in a matter of minutes. You may even be able to walk to work or jump on your bike if the weather is fine and you're feeling sufficiently energetic.
But unfortunately, other people have a more arduous voyage to work - relying on a succession of buses, trains, trams and traffic-jammed motorways to reach their end destination. Not only does this hit you in the pocket, but it takes up a significant chunk of the day's non-working hours. This makes it all the more important to manage your time, making the most of your commute as constructively as possible.
Obviously if you're at the command of your own vehicle, you need to focus on the road ahead - no accidents please. But the rest of us can be a little more creative during our commute to the workplace. If you've got an hour or so of 'dead time' between home and the office, don't let this go to waste. Rather than starting blankly into space until you reach your stop, consider some of these ideas for smarter commuting. You might just find the answer to your travelling woes!
1. Plan your day
You need to be ready to hit the ground running when you make it into the office. It's much easier to be productive during the first hour or two if you have a clear idea of what needs doing, and which tasks are the highest priority. Taking a few minutes during your commute to think about jobs for the day and create a list could help you manage your time more effectively.
2. Get your current affairs fix
There's plenty to be said for reading a newspaper, listening to the radio or checking out the latest headlines online via a mobile device. It's important to know what's going on in the world - keeping abreast of current affairs offers a sense of the 'bigger picture'. This allows you to fully participate with conversations at work, whether they are with colleagues, management or clients.
3. Read a book
Reading is always a fun way to kill an hour or so and it's great for relaxation purposes. Knowing how stressful commuting can be at times, when you're rammed in a carriage full of other people, the opportunity to lose yourself in a good book can be most appealing.
4. Clear out your inbox
If you know you're going to be faced with a backlog of 50 emails when you arrive in the office, why not manage your time and deal with some on the way in? With a smartphone or tablet at your disposal, you might be able to clear out your inbox on the bus or train. OK, it means you're effectively starting work earlier than you should, but at least you've got the chance of having a productive morning.
5. Learn a new language
If you spend two hours travelling each day, that's ten hours every week and 40 or more each month - plenty of time to acquire knowledge in a particular area or develop a new skill. With the help of a an app or podcasts and a set of headphones, you could set about learning a new language - something that may give you an advantage in the future. The world of business is becoming ever-more globalised, meaning professionals with language skills are always in strong demand.
6. Rehearse a presentation
The commute offers an ideal opportunity to work on presentations - in terms of the content you'll be including or your manner of delivery. You can't expect fellow travellers to give you their undivided attention while you practice, but you can manage your time and use your commute as an opportunity to learn your speech, quietly recite it, and work out where breaks and breathing points are needed.
7. Look for a new job
If you're thinking about embarking on a career change, why not get online and conduct a search for the latest job vacancies. This isn't really something you can do at work, so why not assess the market during your commute? Looking for jobs on the train or bus might free up time on your evening and weekend for other activities.
8. Boost your energy supplies
You should try and make time for a nutritious breakfast before your set off from home, but this isn't always easy when trying to manage your time, particularly for those who have a lengthy commute. If you can't eat when you get up, make sure you grab a bite on the way to work. Otherwise your energy levels are likely to crash mid-morning, setting you back for the rest of the day.
It might be the case that you've got a difficult day ahead, and you've not had the best night's sleep. A little peace and quiet on the way in to work - even meditation - can help prepare you mentally for what it to come, and ensure you manage your stress levels.
10. Watch Downton Abbey
With mobile devices at your disposal, it's easy to catch-up on the latest TV- either by downloading shows or streaming them from the web. If you've fallen behind on your favourite show, plug your headphones in and watch an episode on the way home after work. Then you're all caught up in time for the next instalment.
11. Get some exercise
If you've been sat at your desk all day, you may feel the need to get the blood flowing again with a few stretches or a stroll up and down the train. Think safety first, of course, and be respectful to your fellow passengers. You might also want to keep an eye out for the ticket inspector!
12. Make a new friend
There's a good chance you get the same bus or train, from the same stop or station, at the same time every day. No doubt there are other people who do likewise - do you really want to spend years trying to avoid eye contact? If you're friendly, courteous and willing to chat, you may find you're surrounded by all manner of interesting people.
There are plenty of ways to manage your time by using your commute more effectively. You can do something different every day if you so choose, adding a bit of variety to your life and making the most of what can otherwise be a tedious, repetitive experience.
What do you do during your commute time? And what have you seen other people during their twice-daily trip on the train or bus? Let us know your own commuting stories and tips for making the most of your trip into work and how you manage your time.