We’ve all been there; it’s Monday morning and your alarm goes off. The bitter reminder that you have an extremely long commute into the office. One that adds unaccounted time to your already long work day.
So, what’s a girl to do?
Short of requesting that your boss allows you to work from home indefinitely (wouldn’t that be nice?!), you can start by looking at your commuting time a little differently and see it as time to be used, rather than wasted.
To shift my own mindset, I began to think of my morning commute as a ritual.
A ritual, by definition, refers to a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order, arising from convention or habit. As this alludes, I have specific things that I do every morning to prepare myself from when I open my eyes to before I board the bus which will bring me to the stop near my office.
Disclaimer: Now as an Ottawa native, my morning commute is nothing compared to Toronto standards (it takes me about 45 minutes door to door) but for Ottawa standards, that is on the longer side. However, regardless of the length of your commute, these tips are universal and should be adopted if you hope to make the most of your morning commute.
Here’s three ways you can get started:
1. Create a morning routine
As mentioned, I have a series of activities that I do every morning to prepare myself for the day ahead. This includes waking up at the same time, walking my dog, eating my breakfast, making my coffee, and leaving the house at the same time to catch the bus.
However, just like any routine you start, you can’t just snap your fingers and make it so.
For example, my routine currently involves me waking up at 5:50 AM. Before beginning this routine, I used to wake up at 6:30 AM and struggle to do everything I had to do before I caught the bus at 7:30 AM.
Slowly but surely (setting my alarm earlier and earlier every week) I was able to finally build the habit. Now I could do my morning routine with my eyes closed; it’s just that ingrained.
According to a study by a health psychology researcher at the University College in London, named Phillippa Lally, the average time it takes to develop a new habit is 2 months. But, just like anything, this varies from person to person (it can take between 2 and 8 months before a new behaviour becomes automatic). The key is to make baby steps towards your goal until it becomes second nature to you too.
The purpose of creating a morning routine is so that you are in a calm state of mind when beginning your commute as this will help you achieve the next two steps.
2. Set your daily goals and intentions
Now why did I specify goals and intentions?
There is a common misconception that they are the same thing and are often used interchangeably.
Intentions provide you with ways you would like to live your life. Think of things like motivation and inspiration. They often refer to things that are intangible.
Goals, on the other hand, are normally tangible. Think “I want to make X amount of dollars per year”, “I want to lose X pounds by next year”.
Due to their tangible nature, many people understand how to set goals. Intention setting is often where people fail to plan. This could be because to set our intentions, we should be in a state where we are relaxed and less anxious than usual (and why having a morning routine is crucial for achieving this step).
So how do you set a daily intention?
On my own commute, as it relates to work, I like to think: What is the purpose of this day?
For example, I might say “Today, I will be patient when the new person asks me a million questions as this will help them succeed on their learning journey”.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the thought of doing this, you can try to ask yourself some open-ended questions.
For example, “What fears or regrets would I like to release myself from?” or “What positive traits do I have that I would like to strengthen?”
Like beginning a morning routine, be kind to yourself and take your time learning to flex this muscle. However, once you get the hang of it, you’ll find yourself a lot more open to experiencing new ideas and inspiration.
3. Seek Inspiration
When I refer to inspiration, I am talking about becoming a lifelong learner. Living your life this way has many benefits including:
- Greater professional and personal development
- More focus on improving your community
- Increased mental wellbeing
- Living longer
So how can you seek inspiration on your daily commute? This can take many forms including (but not limited to)
- Listening to music or podcasts
- Watching videos
- Reading blogs/news articles/books
- Using Learning Apps
I’m all about finding inspiration in the morning. I will often be that person who you see on the bus at 7:00 AM bobbing their head to a beat, with my nose in a book or glued to my screen reading or watching a video that teaches me something.
Mailing Lists I’ve joined:
Inspiring companies/organizations I follow on Instagram:
Apps I use (on my iPhone):
- Spotify (I don’t pay monthly for a subscription – you can if you want to skip unlimited songs)
- Ted Talks
- Podcasts (Some of my favourites are: Work Party, Tilted, Rants and Randomness with Luvvie Ajayi, Guys We Fucked)
- Netflix (sometimes a girl’s gotta watch her shows)
I hope that this article has given you three easy ways to make the most out of your daily commute. As always, please let me know if you have questions and if there are any things you do on your commute that I need to check out.
To me, there is nothing better than using “dead” commuting time to come alive.
I hope you will join me!