Commuting gives me time for myself and makes me feel good.
I have always been afraid of committing to long commuting as it often results in time spent either sitting in cars or on public transport, what a nerve-wrecking experience!
As most human beings in the Western world, I also like the comfort of cars and the loud radio while driving with the window open in summer. The time spent behind the wheel feels empowering but it is also time requiring a high level of attention and high responsibility… Commuting by care is time in which you cannot do anything else. A few years ago, I have decided not to purchase a car. This is still regarded like an unusual choice by many friends and colleagues who drive even small distances without considering the environment or the risk associated with the traffic. On occasion, I rent a car and can thus buy humongous pieces of furniture or head to remote destinations. The adrenaline of driving a new clean car each time has no price! Well, it has but is not regularly draining my finances and absorbing my time with reparations and maintenance, scratching the ice in winter, and cleaning.
Funny to say, but working one hour away from home has both made me feel guilty for leaving my child in daycare a bit longer than needed and given me those precious 20–30 minutes twice a day to relax, write, piece my thoughts together with no interruption.
An option to reduce commuting while not compromising on job opportunities, is remote working. Remote working improves commitment, job satisfaction and well‐being. When possible, remote working helps to counteract the stress of being in the traffic and in the crowd, freeing the unpaid time spent commuting for family time and hobbies.
When commuting is necessary and working remote is not possible, a change in perspective can help together with turning this time from a wasted stressful period of the day into a high-value moment.
I srated asking myself some basic questions to put the impact of commuting on my daily routine and exploring how it can turn to my advantage.
How important is to me to be at work asap?
Do I prefer to spend 10 min driving or 20 min reading a book sitting in the train/bus?
Which other activities can I do while commuting?
Do I prefer sitting alone in my car, or have some social interaction during the commuting?
Is the view of the road more entertaining than the other passengers?
Cognitive re-framing and gaining control of the situation are the first important steps. On a way to regain control over the time spent commuting, a few questions to asses the activities that match our values. Activities that add value to the minutes spent commuting are those that result in self-growth and in self-awareness. I have seen people doing meditation in the train… what a fresh breeze they brought!
After excluding the idea of commuting by car and after reconsidering commuting as time I could invest in activities of my choice, commuting started shining under a new light and become more acceptable.
I am lucky enough to live in a country with good public transport and thus I commute by train or bus. I consider this as a small sightseeing tour sometimes, and an occasion to decompress from work. If the sun is shining, it is an energising trip in which I don’t have to do anything and I can relax!
Activities that I have identified as compatible with commuting range from reading to writing on the phone messages to friends. Listening to podcasts is another of my favourites. Keeping a regular contact with friends puts always a smile on my face! By writing a paragraph per day, a short novel can slowly assemble by the end of the month. Taking notes or pictures of landscape and people’s outfit offers a chance of blogging.Knitting and crocheting are hobbies taking very little space. Mindfulness and meditation exercises can also be done on the way and provide that me-time mums always long for, even if for only 10 min.
Over the years, my blog has become my favourite hobby and writing poetry and posting photos fill my 20 min travelling in the train. I have read far more books than I thought and this has given me also discussion topics with my colleagues. Although not real-time chatting, the contacts with friends living far away have increased and I feel less of an expat.
Commuting has impacted my life in so many aspects and not all are negative. It has added a positive sustainability touch, it has helped to keep money from escaping my wallet towards purchasing a car, and has given me an unpredicted short stretch of me-time I have a good excuse for.