Whether its train, car, bus or bike, the commute to work fills us with a combination of dread, fear and loathing. It is often an experience more like the 12 labours of Hercules than a pleasure cruise. Train stations filled with a plethora of strange characters. Eyes firmly fixed to the ground or hypnotised by the latest smart phone. Ear phones in listening to warm music cutting through the damp chill of a far too early morning. Although whatever tune comes through your Beats, all you can hear is AC/DC's Highway to Hell.
With trains getting more and more congested and backpacks smashing into you with metronomic regularity, its little wonder that people cite the daily commute as the most stressful part of their lives. What's more, you end up seeing more body parts thrust into your face in a week than a seasoned physician does in a lifetime.
And its not just public transport that adds to the daily drudgery. In spite of environmental concerns, more people than ever are using the car to head to work. Hoping that being on your own encased in your steel box on wheels would bring an element of relief to the nose to tail congestion but alas the stress levels continue to rise.
So the question that is begging to be answered is why do we do this and how do we survive this horror show? Well of course we endure all of this because we need the money the job provides. More often than not we are chasing the big bucks in the big smoke but cant really afford the pricetag of living in the big city. So we inevitably move further out to find affordable accommodation but the price we pay is paid in hours of travel travails. So unless we decide to relocate, change job or work from home exclusively, we are left with the lengthy commute and many of us will do this for the entirety of our career, until retirement finally brings the curtain down on this never ending theatrical nightmare.
There is an answer to all this though. A way we can grasp the commute by the scruff of the neck and instead of having it be the source of all your ills, make it the catalyst for change to supercharge your career and indeed your life!
According to official figures in the UK (ONS figures) the average daily commute is just under 1 hour. With 2 hour commutes becoming more of the norm. Instead of staring vacantly into space, tutting in tune to the dull bass booming away from the earphones next to us, we can use this time to plan our work, learn a language, study a new subject, write a book.....the list is endless. Even if you spend just 1 hour a day on the commute that equates to 5 hours a week. Or to put it more bluntly, accounting for holiday time, it comes out at just under 10 days a year commuting to work. Our excuse that I just don't have time to complete a project, learn French, study Napoleonic wars or write that roller coaster of a novel just doesn't wash anymore.
So what are the vital ingredients that will help you master the commute to your own advantage?
Firstly, work out how much time you have on the train, bus, car etc. Then create a plan of action over the week. Each hour of your commute on each day should be allocated to a prescribed task. A mixture of work related projects and your personal growth project. The importance of getting into a routine is vital. Because then it will become second nature to dedicate your commute time to learning that language or writing your blog rather than just snoozing the entire journey.
If you are on the train then a laptop of Ipad will be the order of the day. Finding an area you can type on will become vital and if you struggle for a seat then there are amazing gadgets you can buy on amazon that can be your temporary laptop table!
"I drive to work though" I hear you cry. Have no fear. There is an audio book for you! And you can literally name your subject. When I first started my sales career one of the more experienced (and as it happens most successful) sales people in the company, gave me a set of audio tapes from Zig Ziglar. It was a complete set of sales training. I became hooked so quickly. The reassuring southern drawl captivated me and made me think just how useful the time travelling can be. Over the years I have invested in tapes, cd's, downloads, podcasts et al on just about every subject that has interested me. And there is the point. Whatever it is that you often say to your friends on the golf course, at work or to your family at home that you wish you had more time to learn, it's there for you to grasp. You simply have to grab the opportunity with both hands and accept what life is providing for you.
Make the commute time the time that you set aside for your projects. Not only will the sense of achievement bring you more confidence and calm but you will find that you suddenly start having more time for every aspect of your life. You will be ahead of the game. Ahead of all your tasks in the office. Make more time to spend with the family. It truly opens up life for you.
Of course it wont happen overnight. And indeed the most vital component in all of this will be patience. This is a lifetime of learning that you are about to embark on. Its not going to seem much of a change in the first couple of weeks. But in the next couple of months it will. And imagine just how much you will succeed a year later that literally weeks of learning will give you.
You will no longer be the hostage of the commute. Rather the commute will at last liberate you.
I have myself undertaken the 2 hour commute from home to work. 4 hours every day simply to go to and from work. People would look at me incredulously as to how I could do it and not be incarcerated in an institution.
But I knew what I was achieving on my travels and above all I knew this one thing also. And here is the final vital piece of advice. It matters not how long or short your commute is if you aren't passionate about your job. Because if you hate your job then a 10 minute commute to work will be the longest journey that you will ever have to make in your life.