5 reasons why a long commute on public transport isn’t a total disaster (and how it can be useful).
I have been moaning about the commute for years. When I started my job last year I’d leave the house at 6:20 to catch 3 trams across town to work and then do the same back in the evening. My total commute door-to-door was 3 hours. 3 hours on a sweat infested tube pressed up against grey faced commuters. I was one of them.
I couldn’t do it anymore and so I moved my family to the other side of the city and suddenly my commute was cut to a 35 minute pleasant walk each way. I could get the bus and it would take 15 minutes but honestly, I enjoy walking.
A year later and my move (and my job) hasn’t worked out and while I haven’t handed in my resignation yet, I have just moved into a new apartment near where I used to live and so on Monday it’s back to the same old commute.
I decided to research the effects of long commutes on wellbeing and according to The Guardian people who travel by tram (and underground) we’re most like to be anxious while those with commutes of between an hour and 90 minutes have the least life satisfaction (closely followed by my 3 hour commute).
These stats made for grim reading with my imminent return to the long commute. Last week I found myself on the commute while on the way to pick up the keys to my new apartment.
As I stared vacantly out the window watching the trees and houses race by, I began to think up ways in which being trapped in a confined space for a lengthy period could be a good thing.
Here are the 5 reasons I came up with as to why a long commute isn’t the end of the world:
- I mingle with the public. Your’e not stuck in the sanitised bubble of your car. You see the good and the bad. If you write or do anything creative then the characters you see can be a gold mine. I’ve seen love, friendship, kindness. I’ve also seen theft, drug abuse and medical emergencies. All fascinating to me as a writer.
- It’s me time. When I’m at work I’m expected to do work. When I’m at home I’m expected to do chores. The commute has no expectations of me — it allows me the time to read, listen to audiobooks, or write and nobody can moan at me to do anything because I’m “commuting”. It can’t be helped. I need to do it to either get to work to do stuff or get home to do stuff. While the people who expect things of me chalk it up to dead time, I’ve cultivated into much needed me time.
- It’s good for the environment. I’m not clogging up the roads like the droves of single drivers in their 5 door cars pumping pollution into the atmosphere. I can sit (or more normally, stand) smug in the knowledge that that smog, isn’t me.
- I’m up earlier. Since living close to work I have become lazier, often snoozing a few times after a full 8 hours sleep. With a looming commute I’m up and out, eager to avoid the madness as much as possible. The upside is is that if I leave at 6am I get to work before 8 and that means I can finish earlier and salvage some of the evening that a long commute can quickly eat up. If you commute a long way and don’t have a job with flexitime. Get one!
- I can work on my side hustle. I’m trying to develop my own business so that I can leave the 9–5 life and this commuting time is an opportunity for me to do some research, to work on a project or connect with collaborators. I know from experience that by the time I home in after a long day of commuting and work, I’m exhausted and just want to eat and veg. I can do neither on the tram, so I might as well use it productively.
Having written that list I already feel more positive about Monday morning. Why don’t you put into practice some of these points and see if you too can begin to find some usefulness in your daily commute.
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