Don’t discount that 30-minute commute each day. Yes, it’s a good time to check Twitter and Instagram. Perhaps you spend time calculating how you are going to spend the money you save thanks to your commuter benefits. If you can find a way to catch some sleep, that’s not always the worst idea either.
However, researchers have found the commute can be a productive time for us, both mentally and emotionally. That’s good news since we are spending longer on our daily journeys to work.
It’s no secret that commutes are getting longer. The website Visual Capitalist says the 10 longest one-way commutes in the US are all about 30 minutes long.
So if you wanted to read all those books you bought from Amazon in the past year, it’s a good place to do it. You could read or listen to a 100,000-word book in the five-plus hours you are commuting. You could easily finish dozens of books in a year.
Here are a couple of mental exercises backed by research that should help you use your commute time wisely.
Focus on your way to work
People who spend time focusing on tasks for work and goals for the future during the commute are less likely to be affected by long morning commutes, according to a study led by Jon Jachimowicz.
The opposite holds true for those who do not. Morning commutes are harder on employees who have work-family conflict, lower self-control and tend to not focus in the mornings. In this group, there is greater job dissatisfaction and increased turnover.
The research says that by using your commute time to transition between your non-work and work roles, you can reduce stress and be more productive once you get to the office.
Reflect on your way home
On the way home, you’re thinking dinner, pick up the kids, Netflix, your weekly recreational team game, etc. However, another researcher says you should be focusing on something entirely different.
Harvard Business School’s Francesa Gino conducted a study that had IT trainees spend 15 minutes at the end of the day to reflect on what they had accomplished. The group did 20 percent better than the group that spent time doing additional work.
How you spend your commute time is your choice. However, make sure you aren’t paying the full cost of your commute. Ask your employer to offer commuter benefits so you can save up to 40 percent on your commute. Check out our website at commuterbenefits.com.
Let your employer know you want commuter benefits. Don’t worry, your request will be anonymous!