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10 Activities to Enrich Your Commuting Journey

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10 Activities to Enrich Your Commuting Journey

In our fast paced, on the go lifestyle we rarely find the time to do something for ourselves. We are either working, spending time with family and friends, or traveling to and from work. With land close to major cities dwindling, rents are higher than ever and people are forced to make the epic journey into work from the outer suburbs.

The commute for many is extremely stressful and tough to deal with, but there are ways to make better use of your time and turn the long commute into a positive experience. These are 10 activities that will help enrich your commuting journey:

1. Sit next to or admire attractive commuters.

A study conducted by Dr. Glenn Williams and Rowena Hill from Nottingham University found that something as simple as sitting next to a fellow commuter you find attractive can reduce your stress and make for a more positive journey.

Dr. Williams says, “Commuting stress is something most of us can relate to. It can affect a person’s physical and psychological well-being and can lead to conflict at home and poor performance at work.” Sitting next to or admiring attractive commuters will help you take your mind off the daily commute, making it more enjoyable and a more positive experience.

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2. Find a friend to travel with.

Spending an hour or two alone in a car can be difficult and in some cases can cause feelings of isolation and general unhappiness.

To make your car ride more enjoyable try to organize a car pool or perhaps find a friend that is heading in the same direction and offer them a lift. The social interaction will help develop your communication skills, make the experience more enriching, and it can reduce travel expenses. Many job roles require customer interaction and being social prior to work will help you get in the mood, which in turn will help you become more productive and happier in the workplace.

3. Catch up on some sleep.

A long commute generally means early mornings or late nights, so take the opportunity to catch up some sleep. This is difficult if you drive to work, but for those that take public transport a snooze will refresh you and make your commute fly by. Before you fall asleep make sure you keep all your belongings in a tough to reach place and enjoy yourself. You may find that the extra sleep will have you excited for your commute.

4. Relax and take the time to be with your thoughts.

We very rarely have any time to just sit down, relax and be with our thoughts. Change your perspective of your commute and use the time to think about things you have neglected over the years. This is the time to think about the business you have always wanted to start, the book you have always wanted to read or places you have always wanted to visit. You may be surprised at what comes from this time you spend with your thoughts and it could take you to a whole new place in life.

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In an article on Huffington Post, meditation experts at the app Headspace recommend “being mindful of your environment and the tendency to resist it; being mindful of the emotions as they rise and fall, come and go…mindful of wanting to be somewhere else, of wishing time away; and mindful of wanting to scream out loud or put your foot down in the car.”

5. Plan your schedule for the day ahead.

The time we spend commuting is valuable time, especially for the busy, work-focused individual. Be productive; use your commute to plan tomorrow or your night ahead. Why wait until you get home to sort out your morning meeting? Spend the time at home with your family or relaxing on the couch. Preparing for the day ahead will relieve stress and make you far more efficient. If you change your perspective of your commute, you will be far less stressed and more productive than ever.

6. Take a more scenic route.

Rebecca Tatum White’s commute takes two hours each day, but she enjoys the drive. This is because her commute runs along the coast and the view “takes my breath away each morning.” She waves at surfers and takes in the local architecture of her city, which makes her happier, creating a more enriching commute.

A change of scenery can alter your perspective and give you a whole new outlook on life. Taking the alternate route may be slightly longer than your normal commute, but it beats a drive full of run down and dilapidated buildings.

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7. Take the time to keep in touch with family or friends.

Finding time to keep in touch with friends and family is difficult to say the least, but remember you have a long commute at your disposal. Talk about something positive with your friends or see how your nephews and nieces are doing; this will give you a more positive mindset and allow you to forget about the arduous journey home.

Williams and Hill suggest being social and talking with friends or family can lead to a more positive journey. Try it and see your commute home become far more enriching.

8. Use the time to learn something new.

Many people utilize the commute home to learn something new. Ashlee White uses her hour long commute home to learn Spanish and says, “it’s the perfect length of time to squeeze in some practice.”

It is a dream of countless people to learn a new language, either for their professional lives, to communicate with family members or perhaps because they have always wanted to. However, so many of us use the excuse of “I don’t have the time.” Do what Ashlee has done and take advantage of a long commute. It is the perfect time to sit down, read through your notes and learn something new.

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9. Listen to calm and relaxing music.

Ease your way into the day by listening to some calm and soothing music. According to a Populus survey, people that listen to heavy metal or hard rock are more likely to succumb to road rage or collisions. Instead, your body needs to be calm in the morning.

Listening to some smooth tunes rather than your regular loud rock will help you relax, calm down and create a safer drive to work.

10. Bring an iPod, tablet or laptop.

Bring something for entertainment and use it to be productive. Write that novel you have been thinking about, or play some mind teaser games to get your mind ready for the day ahead. Sitting on the train and zoning out is not the most effective use of time, so something as simple as bringing a laptop can dramatically improve your productivity.

Staying entertained will not only help the long commute seem quicker, but it will also allow you to get into the right head space, relax and become more productive throughout the day creating an overall more enriching commute.

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Featured photo credit: It’s MARTA/Brett Weinstein via flickr.com

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Published on September 21, 2021

How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

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How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

The internet is flooded with articles about remote work and its benefits or drawbacks. But in reality, the remote work experience is so subjective that it’s impossible to draw general conclusions and issue one-size-fits-all advice about it. However, one thing that’s universal and rock-solid is data. Data-backed findings and research about remote work productivity give us a clear picture of how our workdays have changed and how work from home affects us—because data doesn’t lie.

In this article, we’ll look at three decisive findings from a recent data study and two survey reports concerning remote work productivity and worker well-being.

1. We Take Less Frequent Breaks

Your home can be a peaceful or a distracting place depending on your living and family conditions. While some of us might find it hard to focus amidst the sounds of our everyday life, other people will tell you that the peace and quiet while working from home (WFH) is a major productivity booster. Then there are those who find it hard to take proper breaks at home and switch off at the end of the workday.

But what does data say about remote work productivity? Do we work more or less in a remote setting?

Let’s take a step back to pre-pandemic times (2014, to be exact) when a time tracking application called DeskTime discovered that 10% of most productive people work for 52 minutes and then take a break for 17 minutes.

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Recently, the same time tracking app repeated that study to reveal working and breaking patterns during the pandemic. They found that remote work has caused an increase in time worked, with the most productive people now working for 112 minutes and breaking for 26 minutes.[1]

Now, this may seem rather innocent at first—so what if we work for extended periods of time as long as we also take longer breaks? But let’s take a closer look at this proportion.

While breaks have become only nine minutes longer, work sprints have more than doubled. That’s nearly two hours of work, meaning that the most hard-working people only take three to four breaks per 8-hour workday. This discovery makes us question if working from home (WFH) really is as good a thing for our well-being as we thought it was. In addition, in the WFH format, breaks are no longer a treat but rather a time to squeeze in a chore or help children with schoolwork.

Online meetings are among the main reasons for less frequent breaks. Pre-pandemic meetings meant going to another room, stretching your legs, and giving your eyes a rest from the computer. In a remote setting, all meetings happen on screen, sometimes back-to-back, which could be one of the main factors explaining the longer work hours recorded.

2. We Face a Higher Risk of Burnout

At first, many were optimistic about remote work’s benefits in terms of work-life balance as we save time on commuting and have more time to spend with family—at least in theory. But for many people, this was quickly counterbalanced by a struggle to separate their work and personal lives. Buffer’s 2021 survey for the State of Remote Work report found that the biggest struggle of remote workers is not being able to unplug, with collaboration difficulties and loneliness sharing second place.[2]

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Buffer’s respondents were also asked if they are working more or less since their shift to remote work, and 45 percent admitted to working more. Forty-two percent said they are working the same amount, while 13 percent responded that they are working less.

Longer work hours and fewer quality breaks can dramatically affect our health, as long-term sitting and computer use can cause eye strain, mental fatigue, and other issues. These, in turn, can lead to more severe consequences, such as burnout and heart disease.

Let’s have a closer look at the connection between burnout and remote work.

McKinsey’s report about the Future of work states that 49% of people say they’re feeling some symptoms of burnout.[3] And that may be an understatement since employees experiencing burnout are less likely to respond to survey requests and may have even left the workforce.

From the viewpoint of the employer, remote workers may seem like they are more productive and working longer hours. However, managers must be aware of the risks associated with increased employee anxiety. Otherwise, the productivity gains won’t be long-lasting. It’s no secret that prolonged anxiety can reduce job satisfaction, decrease work performance, and negatively affect interpersonal relationships with colleagues.[4]

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3. Despite everything, We Love Remote Work

An overwhelming majority—97 percent—of Buffer report’s survey respondents say they would like to continue working remotely to some extent. The two main benefits mentioned by the respondents are the ability to have a flexible schedule and the flexibility to work from anywhere.

McKinsey’s report found that more than half of employees would like their workplace to adopt a more flexible hybrid virtual-working model, with some days of work on-premises and some days working remotely. To be more exact, more than half of employees report that they would like at least three work-from-home days a week once the pandemic is over.

Companies will increasingly be forced to find ways to satisfy these workforce demands while implementing policies to minimize the risks associated with overworking and burnout. Smart companies will embrace this new trend and realize that adopting hybrid models can also be a win for them—for example, for accessing talent in different locations and at a lower cost.

Remote Work: Blessing or Plight?

Understandably, workers worldwide are tempted to keep the good work-life aspects that have come out of the pandemic—professional flexibility, fewer commutes, and extra time with family. But with the once strict boundaries between work and life fading, we must remain cautious. We try to squeeze in house chores during breaks. We do online meetings from the kitchen or the same couch we watch TV shows from, and many of us report difficulties switching off after work.

So, how do we keep our private and professional lives from hopelessly blending together?

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The answer is that we try to replicate the physical and virtual boundaries that come naturally in an office setting. This doesn’t only mean having a dedicated workspace but also tracking your work time and stopping when your working hours are finished. In addition, it means working breaks into your schedule because watercooler chats don’t just naturally happen at home.

If necessary, we need to introduce new rituals that resemble a normal office day—for example, going for a walk around the block in the morning to simulate “arriving at work.” Remote work is here to stay. If we want to enjoy the advantages it offers, then we need to learn how to cope with the personal challenges that come with it.

Learn how to stay productive while working remotely with these tips: How to Work From Home: 10 Tips to Stay Productive

Featured photo credit: Jenny Ueberberg via unsplash.com

Reference

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