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Maximize Your Commute

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Maximize Your Commute

Living today’s always on lifestyle leaves many people feeling like there’s never enough time during the day. And we’re reacting in the worst possible ways. We’re taking time away from sleep to get in more play. We’re taking time away from play to get in more work. What do we end up with? We’re stressed out, always tired, out of shape, and feel like we’re still just getting by.

Now, we’re not purporting to offer a panacea. That’s a fancy way of saying, we’re not going to BS you into thinking that we’ve got the solution to all of your work-life balance problems. We can’t add a 25th hour to your day (though we are proponents of adding an hour to 24 days out of the year on leap years, but that’s a separate crackpot scheme). We also can’t guarantee that your morning commute won’t include an encounter with a wall of snow. What we can offer you is some sound advice (more of that here) on how to get the most out of some of the most soul-crushing hours of your life: your commute.

Whether you commute by car, train, bus or human power, almost all of us could stand to squeeze some more quality time out of our commutes. Here are some of our favorite commuting hacks for arriving at your destination better prepared, better informed, in better shape and just, well, just an all-around better person.


How Do You Commute?

By Car

Mind

Mind

Turn the carpool into a rolling brainstorm. If you commute with others, turning travel time into a time to get to the bottom of a question you’ve been confronting at work can pay off. Being out of the office, taking in other visual stimuli, can help everyone think differently and approach questions with new perspective.

Body

Body

Make a strict no eating rule in the car. Think about the kinds of food many of us eat in the car. Sure, stuff like drive-thru and donuts may be convenient and easy to eat while driving, but they’re not doing your body much good. Not eating in the car lets you be more mindful of your food and that leads to better eating habits.

Soul

Soul

Driving to work alone gives you some dedicated me time every day. Sure, you could use that time listening to TJ and The Bird on The Morning Zoo and get a few chuckles, or you could feed your soul with the award-winning On Being podcast. Host Krista Tippett explores spirituality without all the religiosity. Skipping past all of the points of contention, Tippett searches for common ground and has frank conversations about what it means to be a good person.

By Train/Bus

Mind

Mind

Ever get the feeling that there’s more news than you can follow? Or that you’re so busy with the top stories, you’re missing the really important stuff? Dave Pell’s NextDraft will cure you. Subscribe to the daily email and you’ll get a regular dose of the stories everybody is talking about plus some of the best stories nobody has heard yet. Chock full of links so you can dive deeper on any topic, the emails will get you up to speed by the time you get to the office.

Body

Body

Three days a week, get off at the stop before yours. Hoofing it the last leg of your trip to work, especially if you’ve got a briefcase full of stuff, is a simple way to get a little exercise into your busy schedule. It’s also a great way to catch some rays and get a natural dose of vitamin D on a sunny day.

Soul

Soul

Stress is not good for the mind, body or soul and decompressing can be difficult after a long day. When your mind is still racing from a busy day it can be hard to get out of your mental inbox. That’s where the Noisli app with its relaxing sounds can help you separate work from your regular life. Give yourself a few minutes to settle into your commute and then hit the reset button by turning on Noisli’s relaxation sounds and take a moment to slow down your mind and notice what’s going on right now. Some people call this living in the now. Others call it meditation. We just call it keeping your sanity.

By Manpower

(any mode of transportation from walking to biking to kayaking…seriously, that’s a thing)

Mind

Mind

Listening to The TED Radio Hour podcast is a great way to sharpen your mind. Covering a broad range of topics, listening to this podcast means you will never be at a loss for cocktail party conversation again. Don’t let the show’s name fool you. One episode consists of TED talk excerpts, follow-up interviews, and editorial perspective strung together by a common theme. The talks usually weigh in at around 50 minutes per episode.
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And the best part about these talks, for those whose commute doubles as exercise, is that they really get you thinking. So instead of focusing on the struggle to climb that hill you hate, your mind is elsewhere. Before you know it, you’ve conquered your commute with less effort and you’re more informed than you were when you left for work.

Body

Body

Your commute is already a healthy habit, so you’re moving in the right direction. If you truly want to maximize the health benefits, be sure to keep your schedule consistent. A University of North Texas study found that doing strenuous exercise at the same time of day made a significant difference in how tired subjects felt and how quickly they got tired. In other words, to feel your best, plan to arrive at work at the same time every day.

Soul

Soul

Doing good for others can feed your soul, but it’s not like you can swing by a soup kitchen on your walk to work and dish out a couple of bowls of broth. Still, if you have a human-powered commute, you could be raising money for some worthy causes on your way. Download the Charity Miles app and, for every mile you log, brand sponsors will donate cash to your the charity of your choice. They’ve currently got 37 charities you can donate your commute to so hop to it.

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9 thoughts on “Maximize Your Commute”

  1. I take the bus every morning and I definitely find it a great time to feed my mind and soul. As a Christian believer, I recommend the “Bible In One Year” app https://www.bibleinoneyear.org/ which has a daily dose of Bible excerpts with great commentary. The app has an “audio” button which will read it for you if you just want to sit back and listen. If you do it every morning you’ll have reached the goal of reading the bible from cover to cover in one year. It actually has new and fresh content every year so that you’re not reading/listening to the same deal. Highly recommend it.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      God knows, pun intended, a lot of people intend to read the Bible cover to cover but don’t. This is a good solution. We’re sure other religious texts are available as audio too, for those who are so inclined.

  2. Great advice on getting off one stop early and walking the rest to work.

    I’ll definitely start doing that when the weather gets a little nicer.

    I try to maximize my commute by reading as much as I can. I usually bring two books with me, one for Personal Growth and the other just for fun.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Yeah, what we haven’t really mentioned above is 1) seasonality and 2) your mood. The latter being a major factor on some days, but you clearly come prepared for whatever your commute throws at you. We like your style.

  3. Great article! I also love the NPR Politics and Freakonomics podcast for more of that brain-improving commute time since the TED podcast isn’t a daily drop. This American Life is great as well for entertainment and Serial for some true crime intrigue!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Oh man, don’t get us started on Serial. Intrigue is an understatement for us with that one. Thanks for the added suggestions, D!

  4. Great advice for the mind on the train! I prefer hard-copy books for my commute. It helps me find my center in the morning and disconnect from the digital world in the evening. Not to mention I went from reading maybe a couple of books a year to about 35 just for the 30-40 minutes I spend on the train a day.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Word. A man after our own book-wormed hearts. Not to mention that you just look cooler reading an actual book, but you’re chasing that better lifestyle we’re preaching.

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