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6 ways to make your commute work for you

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The commute to and from work can seem like time wasted, but that might be more of a matter of choice than anything else.

My commute to work in the morning averages just over half an hour on a good day. That’s half an hour spent doing nothing except wondering why people insist on squeezing into the train when the next one is due to pull into the station in two minutes or less.

But there are definitely better things I can do on my journey, like plan what healthy lunch I should have that day (can’t risk gaining 3kg every year of work!)

Here are six more things I’m going to make an effort to do every morning and evening to hopefully help ease my daily workload.

Morning commute

1. Go through emails and prioritise

The first part of my commute involves a 15 minute bus ride from home to the train station, which is plenty of time to scan through my inbox and flag the more pressing messages.

This will not only save me a few minutes every morning when I get to the office, but also prepare me for any urgent issues I might have to attend to as soon as I get in. It will also give me a better idea of how my day will pan out and eliminate (or at least minimise) any unexpected challenges.

Public Safety Announcement: This is something only commuters on public transport or those being driven have the luxury of doing. Please don’t text or email when you’re behind the wheel.

2. Listen to pumped up music

Yes, this probably has little to do with actual work but getting to the office in the right frame of mind can make the world of a difference. Starting the day with your favourite music can get rid of that morning slump and even empower you to hit the ground running as soon as you get to your desk.

If you need a little inspiration, Human Resources’ editor Rebecca Lewis has a playlist lined up.

3. Read up

The morning commute is the perfect time to catch up on the morning news or stories which broke overnight, or read materials to help you develop a new skill. Listen to an audio tape to pick up a new language, read a journal on employee psychology or refresh your knowledge on something you learned a while back.

And with the influx of educational and news apps on mobile devices these days, the possibilities are truly endless.

Evening commute

4. Reflect, reflect, reflect

Spending a few minutes every evening on the way home to recognise the best and worst parts of the day will help you identify how you can do better tomorrow. This also ensures mistakes or failures transform into learning opportunities for you and your team.

5. Prepare for tomorrow

The evening commute is also a good time to plan for the next day. Spend a few minutes thinking about what needs to be done tomorrow, who you might be meeting and places you may need to visit. Even if you’re not actively strategising for the day, knowing what to expect will help manage your expectation and stress levels.

6. Respond to non-urgent emails

I usually leave replying to catch up or non-urgent emails at the end of the day, and can probably do this on my commute home rather than spending that extra half an hour in the office. These emails are usually lighter in nature and make for a nice way to end the day.

How do you spend your commute and what tips would you share?

Image: Shutterstock

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Sabrina Zolkifi
Deputy editor
Human Resources Magazine Singapore

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