Commuting should be national sport, we’re pretty good at it here in the UK.
On average, we spend about a year of our lives getting to and from our place of work. Since we do a lot of to-ing and fro-ing on a train, albeit aboard a gorgeous, swish LNER train, we thought it was high time to offer up a nifty little strategy to make your time more productive, and get some relaxation and fun along the way.
However long your commute you can use this trick to get things done and leave time for a recharge and a little bit of relaxation. It’s called the 50/50 approach, where you simply slice up your journey time into juicy bitesize chunks, doing 50% work-related chores and 50% swimming in the lake of you; that’s doing whatever takes your fancy – as long as it’s within reason… and the law.
The experts (those dudes in lab coats and ill-fitting trousers) say that you should not spend your whole commute doing work. We agree. Life’s too short, and your journey is even shorter. And you shouldn’t really stare blankly into space, that’ll just freak people out.
So let’s start with a few ideas to get the job done, make it feel a lot less like work, and get you ahead of the game.
Workin' 9 to 5
Clear your inbox
Sound painful, but it’s oh so pleasing. There’s nothing like arriving at the office with your inbox positively glistening. Spending ten minutes going through emails and removing non-essential stuff on your journey can add a good half an hour to your working day. It also gives you quick heads-up on the day ahead. And don’t forget your junk either, tip out all those dodgy 419s, loans, extensions and Russian brides.
Write a to-do list
Your commute is the perfect time to create a to-do list or tickle one you’ve already made. A to-do list made en route gives you one of those helicopter views of your day and you can waltz in with your head held high and a sense of purpose tucked in your britches.
Look for a new job
Do your job-hunting in the safe environment of the train - no-one’s looking over shoulder (apart from Carl with the catering trolley and he doesn’t mind where you go, he just wants you to be happy). You’ll be freeing up valuable evening and weekend time by doing it on the commute.
Pay your bills
Hey, this internet thing has even made doing the dull stuff you’ve got to do so easy. Yep, even your bank will have an app for that. So instead of setting aside time in the evening, or nicking time out of your well-earned lunch break, you can re-arrange your fiscal bits, pay a bill, send your bank a stern email, whatever.
Stick it in your Pocket
There’s an app called Pocket that can save articles (and videos, and pretty much any type of content) in one place to read or view while you voyage into work. Save from your browser, emails, or from over 500 apps including Twitter, Instagram and Flipboard.
Just think how wise you’ll sound and how awesome you’ll be at your job with an extra 20 minutes each day stock piling industry-specific news and commentary. Step aside, Richard, there’s a new guru in town.
Work hard play harder
That wasn’t hard, was it? Now it’s time to switch your mind to play. You’ve accomplished a few tasks (go, you), so now you can kick back and let your brain synapses wander willy-nilly and do what takes their pleasure. Here are a few ideas to get you on your way:
Sharpen your mind
Get your head in gear for the day with online brain training games, puzzles, maths problems, or word conundrums. Do yourself a favour and swipe past mind-numbing and candy-crushing pixel pushers and pick out a crossword puzzle, or other brain game, like Sudoku. It’s worth remembering these kind of mental gymnastics have been shown to head-off age-related memory loss.
Do you speak English?
You’re not alone, 1,500 million people around the world speak English, and for 375 million it’s their native tongue. Your train commute is the perfect vehicle for learning a new language with the help of the right app.
Download a language app, like Duolingo. Each lesson is short, painless, and super visual. Earn points for correct answers, race against the clock, and level up. Their bite-sized lessons really do work. There are others out there, so have a mooch and see which style of learning suits you best.
Listen up - coming in your ears
An audiobook is your route to learning something new in your downtime. And you never know, you could become more interesting than you already are. Here’s a fact, interesting people tend to attract other interesting people. Fact or fiction, an audiobook can be a real escape. You can find classic novels for free on YouTube channels like audiobooksfree or greatest audiobooks. Or go analogue and hop aboard with a proper book with real turning pages. I know, crazy.
Prep up a playlist for your commute. We’re pretty sure you’ll have a catalogue of tunes that stir up fantastic memories of childhood, a relationship (don’t start sobbing) or whisk you back to a great night, or experience. Go ahead, pull together that soundtrack to your life, and roll with it as we take you to work. Spotify have a truckload of playlists covering every human emotion – find some sounds to chill you out, inspire or energise you for the day ahead. Worth checking out SoundCloud too, another solid audio platform.
Oooh that’s crafty
Take a small craft you can do without making a mess and keep it in an oversized bag. Maybe you're not ready to become that person on the train kitting yet--that's fine. Take a notepad and try some fiction writing exercises.
Like it, Pin It, Post it
This is your time to do as you please, so social media is fair game. Interact with your network of friends, find out what people have been up to and share what’s going on with you. Yeah, you.
First stop the Facebook
Some people just log on to gawp and do a bit of judging too. If browsing on your personal social media accounts isn't a part of your job - your commute is a useful place to do just that. It’ll help you resist the urge to do it at work.
Tweet on the twain
Post a timely tweet in the morning and one on your way home; no need to over-expose yourself. No harm in getting involved in Twitter chats on topics relevant to your business.
Buff up business profile
Take out the kinks in your LinkedIn profile; best to do this well away from the work depending on what you do to bring home the bacon. Head to Groups and join a bunch that interest you. Make a commitment to participating there during your commute.
The LNER line is choc-a-bloc with amazing views, urban and rural. So chart a bit of your journey and share on Instagram account, it’s amazing what a bit of lens flare can do to brighten up your passage to work.