4 Productive Things Successful People Do During Their Commute

March 2019

On average, Britons spend 38 working days a year on their commute. Long daily journeys are one of the key factors in making urban lives more miserable and reducing job satisfaction. And despite all the advances in remote and flexible working, Londoners still wrestle with an average 81-minute commute, while the rest of the country spends around two hours a day travelling to and from work.

    Stop squandering on social media and staring at a stranger’s shoes. It’s possible to put your daily journeys to better use and here are a few quick tips that will help make the commute work for you.  

Set your day’s goals

It’s easy to succumb to distractions or have your day hijacked by someone else’s agenda when you don’t set clear daily goals. The thing about setting goals is that we force the brain to visualise exactly what needs to be done and why it matters. Take athletes for example. Numerous studies have shown that visualisation boosts athletic performance by improving motivation, coordination and concentration. Michael Phelps, the most successful and most decorated Olympian of all time, is renowned for having practised something known as mental rehearsal. It’s an established technique to achieve peak performance in nearly every endeavour – all you need to do is visualise yourself accomplishing the goal and overcoming obstacles. As Michael Phelps’ coach, Bob Bowan, put it, “as a leader and an individual who wants to achieve peak performance – it’s more important to pursue excellence every day and to remind yourself (or remind your team) of the ultimate vision.” So whether you have a long train journey or a half-hour tube ride, don’t waste your time with a flaky wifi – open a to-do list app on your phone or take out your notebook and write down three things you want to achieve by the end of the day. Long-term success starts with simple daily habits.  

Squeeze in exercise

Exercise gives us the space to think and be creative. But no matter how much we want to flex our muscles, sometimes life just gets in the way. The daily commute can be the perfect opportunity to squeeze in a bit of a workout before you hit the office. Studies frequently find that employees report being more productive on days they exercise compared to days they do not. Surely, there’s no better way to find out than try it yourself? If you can only swap your car or bus for a bike once a week, that’s still better than never. Keep in mind that all Fora residency options include free secure bike storage and access to shower and changing facilities, so no matter which location you’re working from that day, you can cycle in, park your bike, take a shower and kick off your day fully energised. Smooth. For rail riders who face longer commutes, there are two simple options: Get off a couple of stops early and hire a bike or enjoy a bonus 15-minute stroll. Fora’s workspaces are in central locations, within a few minutes walk from the nearest bike docking station, so no excuse will suffice.   Listen to something useful A well-chosen podcast, Ted Talk or audiobook is an excellent breakfast for your brain. Whether you choose something cultural, educational or business-focused, you are guaranteed to never be bored on your commute again and actually enjoy the ride. The best thing about podcasts? You can plug in your headphones and immerse yourself in another world while walking, sitting, cycling or jogging. Why not start with something like the Freakonomics Radio, Revisionist History or Hidden Brain?  

Feed your brain

Do you keep saving interesting articles ‘to read later’ but never have the time to sit down and actually do it? The morning commute is the ideal time to catch up on some reading – whether you’re reading for work or for fun, this practice will help awaken your mind and prepare you for an active day ahead. One study found that reading for as little as six minutes a day can reduce stress by 68%. Making time for learning and personal growth is key to staying abreast with emerging trends and ideas, both within your industry and beyond.   Since there’s no escaping the daily commute, the sensible thing is to transform it into something useful. It’s not so difficult to use the travel time to plan and organise your day, exercise, learn or feed your brain.