Mental Health at Work//

Make the Most of Your Work Commute

Why I'm so obsessed with the new way that I get to work.


I’ve never enjoyed commuting to work. Come to think of it, I don’t even like the way the word “commute” sounds—so dull and routine! But it is possible to make the most of your commute. You just have to be strategic!

Like so many professionals who live outside New York City but travel there to work each day, commuting is a 1.5-hour staple in my five-day work week. My commute recently became a bit longer after I accepted a new job. Initially, I imagined that this extended travel time would mean more time spent staring down at my phone blankly while getting from point A to point B. But then I realized I didn’t want to have a passive commuting experience anymore, so I found a few ways to maximize my time. If you aren’t making the most of your time between home and the office, perhaps these ideas will inspire you.

1. Turn it into an exercise opportunity.

I am not athletically inclined. While I recognize the benefits of being active, there are lots of other things I’d rather be doing than working out. But being active for at least 30 minutes a day is supposed to lessen the symptoms of my autoimmune disease. For this reason, I’ve started power walking to my new job instead of taking the subway. And ironically, both modes of transportation get me to the office in the same amount of time. Turning my commute into an exercise opportunity has been incredibly rewarding. I may not be lifting weights, but I am also not stuck underground on the subway. I am getting to and from where I need to be while getting in a mini-workout and enjoying my surroundings. For me, it’s been a game changer.

2. Schedule a few calls.

On my joyous walks to and from work, I schedule a few personal calls. As many of us know, when your head is in the game at work, it’s often hard to find time to connect with your loved ones. So, I’ve turned my morning commute into an opportunity to call my best friends and I reserve my evening commute for checking in with my family, who are on Pacific Time. It’s quality time that isn’t rushed or cut short. And when I get home after a long day, I can then redirect my attention to my husband. The best part? When you plug your earphones in and call up someone you care about, you find that you are actually being present—rather than looking down at your phone.

3. Enjoy a little alone time.

Speaking of being present, when I’m not chatting with my friends and family, I’ve also taken the opportunity to treat my commute as a little slice of alone time. I am a people-person. My family jokes that I am always “on.” But like anybody else, sometimes I need just a few minutes to be alone with my own thoughts. My commute has made me realize that we need to honor time to ourselves, time in which we are not thinking about the responsibilities we have as employees or family members. Even if your commute doesn’t allow for a nice walk or phone call, take a few minutes to be in your own space on your journey to and from home. 

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