Making the most of the grind

It might say in your employment contract that you work 9–5 hours, but did you ever do the math to calculate how many hours you really work? The truth of the matter is that many of us are working a 9–5 that actually turns out to be closer to a 7–7. That’s about 12 hours! The alarm goes off at 7 a.m., you spend the next hour showering, gulping down coffee, catching the latest news headlines and perfecting your beauty routine (or gulping down more coffee) before you’re out of the door and into your chosen mode of transport. You then work your shift and do the same commute in reverse before you get back home at 7 p.m. That’s a pretty long day!

Make your work schedule work better

That’s the 9–5 myth, and you’re living it every day. According to research, 3 in 5 Americans believe that the 9–5 day is a thing of the past, and they are probably right. But what can you do? How can you escape such long hours? Well, you might not be able to change your work pattern, but you can certainly make your work pattern work better for you. With a little clever tweaking of your commute, you can learn to make the most of that time so that it becomes rewarding and even enjoyable.

Learn a new skill

Come on, put that trash mag down. You can save that for the end of the day. First thing in the morning your brain is ready for some mental gymnastics to keep it stimulated and ready for the day ahead. Now, we know what you are thinking. It’s impossible to learn a new skill on the commute unless it’s ‘How to Avoid Making Eye Contact With Strangers’ or ‘The Art of Reading Somebody Else’s Newspaper Over Their Shoulder’. The good news is that you really can learn something useful while commuting. From a new language to origami, there is a wealth of new skills out there waiting to be discovered.

Start a gratitude journal

When was the last time you were thankful? Perhaps it was this morning when you grabbed your regular coffee order from the barista, or maybe it was yesterday when out of nowhere a parking space suddenly appeared when you needed one the most. Keeping a gratitude journal is a great way to document the wonderful things in our lives, whether they simply make our day or give our lives true meaning. Taking a step back and seeing the good things can really keep you grounded. What’s more, writing your journal on the train or bus can really lift your spirits and focus you for the new day.

Catch up on the news

It can be a challenge to take in the latest news while you have a slice of toast in one hand and a hair dryer or shaver in the other. Save the world’s latest happenings for when you have more time to focus. News websites like CNN and BBC deliver news in easy-to-read chunks, or why not download your favorite newspaper over Wi-Fi at home so it’s ready to read on the commute?

Jump into a reading challenge

When was the last time you read a really good book? If it was just yesterday then good for you! You are a regular bookworm who could teach the rest of us a thing or two. For most, reading an entire book is something of a challenge if you don’t have much free time to spare. That’s why the commute is the perfect time to expand or indulge the ol’ gray matter. If you really want to set the bar high, why not jump into a reading challenge? A monthly target of five books or a literary journey through the best 100 novels will have you chomping through the bestseller list in no time.

It’s your time: Use it wisely

Your work day doesn’t officially start until your contractual hours start. You might not be able to escape the commute, but you can certainly get the best from your journey into work. By taking some time to focus on the things you enjoy or which just make life easier, you’ll arrive at work feeling more productive, more focused and, most importantly, like you’re not selling your soul day in and day out.

So, the question is, what will you do today to bust that 9–5 myth and make it work for you? Let me know in the comments below.