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10 Activities to Enrich Your Commuting Journey

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.

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

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Last Updated on February 18, 2019

How to Motivate Employees and Boost Team Productivity

How to Motivate Employees and Boost Team Productivity

These days, in a world with cognitive, AI, and extraordinary advances, we have failed at the most basic stimulus: motivation. Why do I say so? Just take a look at these statistics:

58 percent of managers said they didn’t receive any management training as per a CareerBuilder.com survey. Only 12% of employees leave their jobs because of more money. Research indicates that around 80% of employees leave their jobs due to “lack of appreciation”. Due to fear of failing, more than half of American workers don’t take their paid vacations. 53% of Americans are unhappy at work (not engaged). And 1 in 3 are working in a field they don’t like.[1]

Archaic people management and HR structures are the root cause.

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

So how to motivate employees and boost team productivity?

Here are 3 key things that you can do to motivate your employees and boost team productivity:

1. Run Your Team/Group/Company like a Lean Startup

The Lean Startup phenomena by Eric Ries has been socialized across millions all over the globe. In a nutshell, it is a methodology for developing businesses and products, which aims to shorten product development cycles and rapidly discover if a proposed business model is viable; this is achieved by adopting a combination of business-hypothesis-driven experimentation, iterative product releases, and validated learning.[2]

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Encourage Your Employees

When you empower your employees (or family members) to do what they deem to be best for a particular roadblock, idea, or improvement, you create magic. You create genuine trust. You enable innovation. The result is happy, inspired employees who feel they have a say in the grand cosmic stage at work.

Note that increasing the competency level of employees and coaching and mentoring them along the way is key. You yourself, need to do the same. Nourish your brain – and get a mentor that will keep you at the edge of your game.

Offer Rewards

Motivation is also intrinsic. The startups I have worked at offered instant rewards — not just fat checks or equity increments, but Oscar-style nominations.

The non-monetary rewards were actually more coveted, and grandiose: lunch with the CEO, tickets to an Obama fund-raiser, horse-back riding with a world-class equestrian.

Compare this to a dodgy, corporate, white-cubicle dinosaur that had a “yearly performance review” where both parties dread the conversation. In a world of instant WhatsApp messages, having a conversation about performance, likes and dislikes cannot just happen annually in 60 minutes. Employees need to be rooted in the belief that their manager genuinely cares about them.

Give Autonomy

Another key attribute is autonomy. Most employees start brushing their resumes and cruising LinkedIn when their hands are tied in their current positions: approval forms, long meetings, escalations, and more meetings. In the world of agile and scrum masters, deliberating for the sake of deliberating is poison. You will choke the very employees that giddily accepted the job initially to “change the world”.

Within a reasonable realm of assessment and deep-dives, trust your employees to do the heavy lifting. Give them access to the knowledge, people and resources that help them directly make the choices that will shape the future of your team, and your company.

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Eliminate yourself as the bottleneck – and interject yourself as a benevolent, servant leader that is the symbol of high-performing organizations.

2. Apply the 90/90/1 Rule

I recently saw a video by Deepak Sharma (a leadership adviser) about productivity and this principle stuck with me. Here’s what it’s about:

Devote the First 90 Minutes of Your Day to Important Project

For the next 90 days, devote the first 90 minutes of your day to your most important project—nothing else. Do this for yourself and your employees.

We usually get sucked into the most wasteful, operational activities in the morning which robs our focus, and steers us into an unwanted rabbit hole. So mute your notifications, avoid the temptation to check your exploding inbox, and scroll your Instagram feed later. Instead, focus on that ONE thing that will provide real value to you, your team, or your business/company/home.

Apply this rule to yourself – and your team. Your team will thank you. Note: If you’re feeling really stretched for time, you can always hack the rule by testing out a “45/45/1” version.

A To Do Scheduling System

Another version of this is to use the Kanban concept, developed by Taiichi Ohno, an industrial engineer at Toyota. Kanban is a scheduling system employing boards and cards.

The most basic version is a canvas with “To-do”, “Doing”, and “Done” boards (or columns). Each activity or task is a “card” that moves from one column to the other. I use Trello (a Kanban-inspired app) that is a key system for my personal and professional life. It allows me to understand my workload, their priority, and due dates.

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I use importance and effort metrics (scores) for each task to understand what is truly necessary in my life to work on. It negates the FIFO (first-in, first out) paradox that has plagued millions of people. Instead, it allows me to take stock of what is on my plate, and then bite on what truly will move the needle for me, my team, my life, and my company.

With a limited appetite (at least for some), would you eat the veggies, fries, mashed potatoes and leave the sizzling steak? No, you wouldn’t (unless you are a vegan and ended up in the wrong restaurant).

Approach your work with a weighted vengeance – and encourage your team to do the same.

3. Align Passion and Skills to Purpose

The heart of human excellence often begins to beat when you discover a pursuit that absorbs you, frees you, challenges you, and gives you a sense of meaning, joy and passion.

“The most fortunate people on earth are those who have found a calling that’s bigger than they are—that moves them and fills their lives with constant passion, aliveness, and growth.” — Richard Leider

An ace team-member once told me that while she enjoys working for the company we both used to work at, she really hated anything to do with technology. She was more of a “people” person, and did not want to sit behind a desk sifting through lines of code.

What struck me was that she was in that role for more than a decade and had just spoken up. The good thing is she spoke up. She expressed her desire and interests. And it allowed her to get into a role of her liking within 30 days.

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Ask If They like What They’re Doing

If you, or a team member is frustrated, demotivated, or not performing at their best – one of the questions you should ask is whether they like what they are doing. Then genuinely try to help them get to the role they should be in (whether in the same team/company or not).

There’s a reason why 53% of Americans (and perhaps more or same across the globe) are unhappy at work. A butcher cannot be an ace salad maker. Pursue your passion – and help pave the way for your team. Unlock your potential and theirs. You will command and lead a supercharged team.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs

The Bottom Line

Sometimes, passion has to be ignited. It is dormant, clouded by busy-ness, buried by wrong career choices, and plagued by non-supportive eco-systems. Some will climb out of it, but we as society — and in the case of business teams — incumbent upon the manager/CEO/leader to foster, grow, and nurture the employee.

Teach her the ropes. Show her the path. Advise him as you would yourself. Let them lead, and make mistakes. Do not fear them, rather make them the leader you would want to become.

For your not-so-great team members, understand that it is not personal, it is just not a good fit. Help them move on to the pastures they would be fit to graze on. Hence, hire slow (and fire fast).

Your team is a reflection of you. Boosting their confidence and helping them achieve the impossible is motivation. Focus on that, and you will have a productive team that you and your company will be proud of.

More Resources About Team Management

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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