Change your commute, change your day

The commuting experience is a daily battle for many. You fight your way onto a tube only for your nose to be unfortunately close to someone else’s armpit. The doors close and you maintain your sardine tin impression for what feels like an agonising amount of time until you can file out of the tube station nearest your office. Or you’ve sat in your car on a motorway in a queue of traffic, knowing you’ll start the day late and will have to race through the day’s tasks to catch up. Exhausting. And hardly the ideal way to start the working day.

It is well worth considering any means of improving your commute. Here’s how.

Alternative modes of transport 

Is there any part of your journey that could be done with an alternative method of transport?

Running, cycling, the Thames Clipper and choosing to walk a more scenic route (perhaps through a park) are the most popular alternatives but skateboarding, scootering and rowing/canoeing are options too. Yes, some people have attempted to row to work. Gabe Horchler, a 71 year old, rows and cycles to work every day in Washington and Peter Kimpton canoed 8 miles from Springfield Park in Hackney to his place of work, the Guardian Offices. Introducing some exercise and fresh air wherever possible will make you feel more invigorated and alert when you arrive at work.

To encourage yourself to stick to a more active commute, try putting out the required clothes/ equipment the night before otherwise it can be all too easy to fall back into old habits when your alarm goes off.

Choose entertainment to enjoy your commuting time 

If it’s really not possible to avoid the train or car, treat yourself to great reading material, podcasts, or videos. It’s worth investing in a Kindle or whatever technology/subscriptions you need to provide interesting material for the journey. Perhaps start with Ted’s suggested playlist of interesting talks for commutes, or a daily news podcast. If you google ‘commute podcasts’ you’ll certainly have plenty of options!

You can also choose a new skill or hobby for the commute, like learning a language. I’ve been attempting to learn Greek using online lessons. Why not?

Of course, the commute can be an opportunity to address some emails to ease the burden when you’re in the office, especially if you commute by train. Internet connections are not always reliable, but try asking your company for a mobile Dongle to help get you access.

Explore flexible working options  

This is dependent on your job and the company you work for, but if flexible working can help improve your commute, ask about the policies in place and propose an approach to your manager. Flexible working could mean changing the hours you work or where you do the work. If your hours are determined by a rota, is there a better way of doing the rota that you or your colleagues can suggest to management?

Whatever suggestions you put forward, remember to put yourself in your manager’s shoes and consider the impact on the team, clients and  job responsibilities, suggesting how any challenges might be overcome. The easier you make the decision for your manager, the more likely your request will be approved!

A final suggestion

Have a good song set as your alarm song. Spotify have enlisted the help of a psychologist to recommend the best songs to wake you up and if you set one of these as your alarm, your day will start on the right tone (no pun intended).


  • I turned a 1 hr 30 min walk-train-train-walk into a 45 minute cycle ride. It added exercise and challenge to the day, oxygenated the brain and gave me a new interest. It made a tough job bearable for another 3 years.

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