Send Your Productivity Off The Rails By Working Through Your Commute

Kill two birds with one stone and watch your productivity go off the rails!

Commutes have always been a staple part of city working for many but, as city-based living costs rise, so too do the times we take to commute to and from work every day. In fact, the latest figures show that at least 3.7million of us are commuting at least two hours daily, with average times of around 57.1 minutes each way. That adds up to nearly an entire shift over an average working week!

It’s far from ideal, and it’s taking its toll on morale and passion, especially considering that it’s wasted time from a financial and personal point of view. Luckily, as connectivity becomes more accessible for all, many individuals are managing to find a way through the commuting conundrum without half the heartache. 

A shift towards more remote work focuses means that many of us are now able to dedicate commute times to work itself, and perhaps even leave the office early as a result. At the very least, taking the chance to get things in order during our trip can make our working days easier to manage. 

If you’ve never done it before, though, you may have one pressing question – how the hell are you supposed to concentrate on your work when you’re on a train filled with people?

# 1 – Select somewhere secluded if you can

Anyone who’s been on a rush-hour train will know that secluded is a relative term, but you’re hardly going to be able to concentrate in a jam-packed carriage with noise and distraction all around. As such, you should always at least seek quiet carriages where you can sit slightly away from everyone else. You might even find it worthwhile to ask your boss if you can come in earlier or later to avoid the madness.

The moment you’re away from the rush hour crowd, work should be 100 times easier to achieve. While it might still seem strange at first, you should be able to switch off, zone in, and feel no different here to how you might when at the office. Then, you can get some work of real worth completed in that otherwise wasted hour+-long trip.

# 2 – Keep it discreet

Even if you think you’ve got a carriage to yourself, it’s vital to note that you also need to think about discretion here. You will, after all, be working in a public place, and there’s no telling when someone else will walk in on you. 

With this in mind, a large laptop that anyone can glance at isn’t always the best option for productivity here. As well as risking insider company knowledge this way, you may inadvertently throw adherence to regulations like GDPR out the window. 

To make sure that doesn’t happen, instead consider discretion. Many choose to ditch the laptop for a tablet that they can keep in their laps and thus cover over slightly better. As you can see from this article about ‘Smartphones: what you can do on a boring train journey,’ it’s even possible to work on your phone much of the time thanks to the free wifi promised by companies like Avanti West Coast. This small-screen working technique is about as good as it gets for keeping information well and truly away from prying eyes. Simply make sure that you’re able to complete specific tasks this way, and you should even find that a busy train can’t stop you from getting on with at least some things. 

# 3 – Plan commute work ahead of time

Your train could be as quiet as you like, but you can bet that you’ll still struggle to get into the work zone the way you might when you finally do arrive at the office. As such, you can bet that you’ll always benefit from a little preparation in advance where your commute tasks are concerned. 

We aren’t saying you need to spend hours on this. That would, after all, simply mean more of your spare time lost for that long and tedious journey! Still, something as simple as writing a quick commute to-do list before you leave the office each day should be enough to see you through. 

In an ideal world, you’ll want to consider tasks that don’t require too much creative energy here. Instead, focus on more menial objectives, like admin, tying up loose ends, or sending projects where they need to go. This is also the ideal time for things like editing, neatening up, etc. 

And, when you already know you’ll be doing these things in advance, you can make sure that you’re able to sit down, sign in, and spend the entire hour or so of your journey on a good cause. 

# 4 – Make sure you have access to everything you need

Last but by no means least, you need to make sure that you have access to all the tools necessary to get these tasks done in the first place. You could have the best commute to-do plan in the world, and it won’t help you if you face technical issues or setbacks with everything you try to do. 

This is especially prevalent when using your smartphone for these purposes, as you’ll need to ensure you download essential work apps like Gmail, as well as considering additions such as Evernote, which can help you to keep those commuting tasks in order. Depending on your work focuses, you may even find that you need to download things like Skype, Slack, and more. 

Ultimately, you’re going to need access to the majority of things you use when in the office, so take a little time to download these beforehand. Then, you ensure that your commuting work capabilities are as good as elsewhere. 

A final word

Working on a train isn’t always easy, and trust us when we say that it may take a little time to get used to. When you finally manage it, though, you can, at last, turn that wasted time into a trip well worth taking.


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