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Hate Your Commute To Work? It’s Probably Because You Have The Wrong Mindset

Hate Your Commute To Work? It’s Probably Because You Have The Wrong Mindset

A huge amount of us have some kind of commute to work each day. Whether it’s by car, train or bus, our commute can sometimes take a large chunk out of our day and studies are showing the greater distance there is between home and work, the more likely you are to feel isolation, have sleep difficulties, stress, emotional problems and general burnout. Whether we realise it or not, our well-being and happiness is taking a massive beating.

Researchers found that each minute spent on commuting is identified with a 0.0257-minute exercise time reduction, a 0.0387-minute food preparation time reduction, and a 0.2205-minute sleep time reduction. An example of what this equates to is someone who commutes for a total of 3 hours a day in their working week for a year, will miss out on half an hour of sleep each day.

How Can You Combat The Commuting Blues?

If you find long commutes don’t affect you that much, it could be because you have a certain trait in your personality that gives you a slightly different mindset: self-control.

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A survey of 225 London commuters found that dissatisfaction and unhappiness in their jobs was high in those who had longer commutes with the exception of those who had self-control as an integrated personality trait.

So what does someone with self-control do that others don’t? Well, they are more likely to spend their time forward planning during their commute. In other words, they ask themselves goal-oriented questions such as: What do I need to get done today? How is this related to the rest of my week? And is this all contributing towards my overall career goal?

The reason this particular mindset works is because, even just done for a few minutes, it allows us to transition much more easily, both psychologically and temporally, from our home life to our work life. By doing this people are less likely to experience stress and general lower well-being in their lives.

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The Biggest Commuting Mistake We Make

Some of us may use our commute to read a book, answer emails, take a nap or just generally space out. While some of what we do may feel like a productive use of our travel time, what we’re fundamentally doing is isolating ourselves from others.

As humans, we are extremely social and during our commute we are surrounded by a lot of people but actively choosing not to interact with them. We’re very used to doing this, especially on a packed train or bus but the solitary and unsociable way we behave is actually very detrimental to our overall well-being.

Have you ever wondered why people stand almost touching arm to arm on crowded transport but never even look each other in the eye? Under normal social circumstances being that close to another person means there’s a social connection but on a commute this is acceptable because we tend to look at people as ‘part of the furniture’ rather than as human beings – this allows us to mentally disengage ourselves from those around us.

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How Can We Help Ourselves To Have A Happier Commute?

Nicholas Epley, a professor of behavioural science at the University of Chicago says we are using our commuting time all wrong and mistakenly seeking solitude on our way to and from work. What we really need to do is spark up conversations with those around us.

“People tend to think others just aren’t that social and that if you started a conversation it would be unpleasant, but that’s what commuters are getting wrong,” says Epley. “What we learned from our experiments is that the biggest cost to commuting – the unhappiness that shows up in almost every survey you find – can go away just by talking to a stranger.”

It seems starting simple conversations and interactions with your fellow commuters is enough to quell the negative influence that commuting has on our happiness and well-being.

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If you’re thinking that no one ever looks like they’ll welcome a conversation from a stranger, you are wrong. The study Epley and his colleagues conducted showed the average person believes only 40% of their fellow commuters would happily engage in a random conversation with a stranger but, in fact, this actually turned out to be 100%.

It doesn’t have to be an in-depth discussion either – just simply complimenting or making an observational remark could be enough to make a difference to both your journey and someone else’s. So if your commute is causing stress, anxiety, and lowering your mental and physical well-being, it’s either time to seriously re-think your reasons behind such a long commute or simply stop isolating yourself and say hello to the person sitting next to you.

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Jenny Marchal

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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