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Tips to survive a super commute (90+ minutes)

trevornemanic profile image Trevor Nemanic Originally published at trevornemanic.com ・Updated on ・2 min read

Super commuters commit at least 90 minutes grinding their way to and from work. The commute creates unnecessary stress and upsets work-life balance. This post is aimed at improving the lives super commuters by giving them useful day-to-day techniques. Personally, I have been super commuting for 11 months and have developed several tips out of necessity. They support me in a variety of ways, including lowering stress, improving productivity, and saving valuable time at home.

1. Focus on work while commuting to work.
I work on the train and it prepares me to be ready to hit the ground running in the office. The Harvard Business School found this practice of "pre-work" to ease mentally switching between home-life and work-life. They also found that listening to music or browsing social media may increase chances for a stressful work day. On your next commute, spend time catching up on emails and doing whatever sets you up to be successful. If you're in a car, you can use an email reader to listen to your emails out loud, and write your responses in a voice note.

2. De-stress on your way home.
This will prepare you to transition back into your home life and negate the side-effects of commuting. I have been practicing mindfulness with Headspace and it helps me de-stress in only three to ten minutes. Once practiced, it is more effective than trying to rest or zone out.

3. Have an end goal in mind.
One of the worst parts about super commuting is the feeling that you have committed the rest of your life to living in limbo. Instead, have a long term plan for reducing the distance and time between you and your job. Whether it be to increase your income so you can move closer or improve your job so it can be physically closer to you, make sure you have something in mind. Then, you can have a more positive outlook on the future.

4. Make a to-do list of things you want to do at both work and home.
This will separate the two concerns and increase productivity. I prefer to keep my personal list on my phone and work list on my laptop. Therefore, I stay focused on whichever part of my life I am presently at.

5. Set reminders in your phone to help you switch focus.
Super commuting eats away your free time, so it is important to judiciously utilize your commute time. When I have a stressful day at work, I will set a calendar appointment to use Headspace right when I get to my train. Then, I will feel refreshed and can focus the remaining hour and 15 minutes on productive home tasks (planning the next vacation, what I'm doing for dinner, etc).

I hope these tips are as beneficial to you as they are to me. Did I miss something which makes your super commute effective? Let me know in the comments! You can also follow me on Twitter

Further reading:

  1. Harvard Business School https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/stuck-in-commuter-hell-you-can-still-be-productive?cid=wk-rss

Discussion

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gualtierofr profile image
Gualtiero Frigerio

I once had a commute of about 1 hour and 45 minutes, so 3.5 hours each day.
I usually met friends on the morning train so at least the first part of the commute was dedicated to chitchats and that was ok. The rest of the commute was jumping on and off the metro or walking, so no time for useful stuff. Getting back home I usually listened to music if I didn't meet anyone on the train.
Now my commute is only 50-55 minutes and I always listen to podcasts.
The train is good if you want to get something done, like reading something or watching a video. My long commute was more than 10 years ago, so there was no iPad. If I had to commute on the train today I'd bring a tablet and watch online courses or read blogs or the news. Podcasts are great when you have a commute like mine with 3 different metro lines and walks, as there is no time to sit and read.

I think it is a good idea to make a good use of the time otherwise wasted while commuting, but remote jobs or leaving close to the office are way better alternatives. If public transport isn't an option and you have to drive to the office that time is a complete waste. I know you can have your email read by the phone, but while driving you're supposed to pay attention to other cars so I'm not sure you can fully concentrate on the task. I find taking phone calls to be a better option while driving, and you can always listen to the news on the radio, not work related but at least you can resist the urge to read an online paper at office.

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lucasgracia profile image
LucasGracia

I've been doing this for nearly a year and I wish that I was able to do my commute on public transport so that I could make better use of the time. Commuting via public transport would make my super commute even longer :(.

The thing that helps me the most is making myself actively pursue my hobbies on the downtime that I do get. It can be hard to find the motivation at times but I always feel much better when I step out of the sleep-eat-commute-work-commute-eat-sleep cycle!