Strategies for making the most out of your commute

With most of us heading back to the office for at least part of the week, the commute to and from work has again become a daily part of our lives. In fact, Australians spend an average of 54 minutes commuting every day – adding up to roughly 169 hours a year.

Spending this much time sitting in traffic or battling peak-hour public transport, it can really chip away at your work-life balance. But It’s important not to think of your commute as wasted time. Instead, consider it as “me time” when you have the opportunity to get things done.

Opportunities when commuting

To get the most of your commute time, you need to be intentional about how you want to spend it. This might mean learning how to relax as soon as you get in the car, by doing simple stretches and watching your posture as you drive. It’s also worth picking out music or podcasts you want to listen to in advance, so that you actually look forward to being in the car.

And because driving is never fun when the roads are heavy with traffic, you may be able to negotiate slightly earlier or later work hours – to make your commute run as smooth as possible.

Getting more out of your public transport commute

While almost half of Australians drive to work, more than two-fifths take public transport for at least part of their commute. If you’re travelling by train, bus, or ferry, you have the same opportunities to make the most of your commute – and even more so, because you can concentrate completely on yourself instead of on the road.

That means it can be a great time to read, catch up with friends by phone or text, learn that language or skill you’ve been putting off forever, catch up on some life admin, or just take in the scenery.

And with a vast majority of public transport commuters wishing their fellow passengers had better manners (87%) and were friendlier (83%), this is your chance to be the change you want to see. Why not strike up a conversation with the person beside you? You never know if you might make a new friend by the end of your train or bus ride.

How you can make the most of your commute

While each person will have their own unique ideas about how to spend their driving time, here are a few tips for long commutes:

Time to unwind and practise mindfulness

Your morning commute can set the tone for the entire day. One way to get into the right headspace is through the practice of mindfulness, which means simply being connected to the present moment. To do this, tune in to the sights, sounds, and smells around you on the road and try to stay focused on them for the entire commute.

Similarly, your end-of-day commute is a chance to shake off thoughts about work and unwind for the evening. By practising mindfulness throughout your journey, you’ll arrive home in a calm and relaxed state of mind. This can be especially helpful if you’re commuting to and from work using public transport – you can switch off and conserve your energy as you go home.

Get organised mentally

When you have a busy schedule, and are pressed for time, you can make use of your commute to get a head start on things that you need to do for the day. This might be making mental to-do lists, brainstorming new ideas for a work project, or coming up with a business strategy – turning driving time into something creative and productive.

You can even use a voice assistant to dictate and play your thoughts back when you get to the office. By getting organised mentally while in the car, you’ll already be firing on all cylinders by the time you start your workday.

Podcasts and audiobooks

Listening to podcasts and audiobooks is a great way to distract yourself from the grind of the daily commute. An audiobook is usually between eight and 15 hours long, which means you can finish it within a couple of weeks. With audiobook apps, you can now access just about any fiction or non-fiction work.

There is also now a wide range of podcasts to cater to all tastes. For example, for a laugh-out-loud listen, you could try The Moth – the podcast version of a long-running live storytelling event. Or you might want to explore the world through the BBC Documentary Podcast, be inspired by leaders in The Diary of a CEO, or learn from savvy entrepreneurs in How I Built This.

Podcasts and eBooks are also great options if you’re looking for an alternative to listening to music. They can make your travel time more meaningful.

Importance of prioritising safety

No matter how you choose to spend your commute, remember that safety is paramount. If you are going to use your phone – for example, to listen to a podcast or record yourself speaking – set up what you need before you start the car and put it out of reach, so you’re not tempted to look at it while driving. Your eyes and focus should always stay on the road.

To further protect yourself from unexpected costs from car accidents, theft, or damage, it’s essential to have the right insurance coverage. Learn more about Real Car Insurance and get a quote within minutes on our website.