How To Get The Best Out Of Your Commute To Work Getting to work daily can become a tedious task, but it comes with some unexpected upsides

By Vaibhav Joshi

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Do you often find yourself wishing that your office was just a little bit closer to your home as you wait for the huge traffic jam in front of you to clear up? Do the words "rush hour' fill you with a feeling of instant dread? Whether it's having to drive extremely slowly on jam-packed roads or spending hours standing in crowded buses and metros travelling to and from work, the perils of a lengthy work commute are well known to most of us.

The negative impact of this long journey goes well beyond the feeling of frustration we all experience when we're on the move. A lengthy work commute is a major contributing factor in people leaving their jobs in favour of one that's more convenient, reports a survey commissioned by employment and staffing firm Robert Half. Having recorded responses from 2,800 workers over 18 in 28 U.S. cities, the researchers found that 23 per cent of workers have left a job because of the inordinately long journey to get to work.

It's Not All Negative

Given how physically and mentally draining a lengthy work commute can be, it's hard to find any positives in the journey. However, recent research suggests that upsides do exist and they serve to make your commute a little less taxing. Here's how you can use it to your advantage.

Use Your Head

Do you find your mind drifting to negative or even aimless thoughts on your way to work in the morning? There's no denying that this long journey can leave you feeling exhausted even before you reach the office, but research conducted by Jon Jachimowicz at Columbia Business School has revealed that using this time for some constructive thinking can help avoid this feeling.

In his research paper entitled "Between Home and Work: Commuting as an Opportunity for Role Transitions,' he advises role-clarifying prospection—thoughts about your upcoming work duties as well as your future career path. The research reveals that people who indulge in this manner of thinking and planning are less likely to be negatively affected by lengthy commutes to work, and also exhibit greater job satisfaction throughout the day.

Self Improvement

When you have all that free time and nothing to do, why not use it to better yourself? A study conducted at the University of Surrey Business School suggests that spaced learning, i.e. periods of intense learning punctuated by short breaks is the best way to study. This makes your daily commute the ideal setting to read an informative new book, watch an educational video or even try your hand at learning a new language.

In the study, 600 business students were divided into three groups before covering the same material for a module on advertising. One group learned in the traditional manner via lectures and seminars, another directed their own learning and the third group engaged in spaced learning which comprised an hour-long lecture with 10-minute breaks in which they completed tasks unrelated to the lecture.

After a week, students took a three-part test to determine what they learned and whether they could successfully apply it and extend it to material not covered in the course. Spaced learners scored higher than the other groups on every part of the test, remembering more than the other groups and also scoring higher on applying their knowledge. They also scored higher on extending the material to other situations, further strengthening the case in favour of spaced learning.

Get Into Shape

If you favour public transport in your daily commute as opposed to using your own personal vehicle to get to work, you're going to enjoy reading the following information. According to a study of Taiwanese commuters published in the Journal of Transport & Health in June 2016, you're 15 per cent less likely to be overweight than your colleagues who drive to work. Although it's not a substitute for your regular gym session, the researchers believe that the daily stroll to the bus stop or the train station builds up to make a positive difference in your fitness levels.

Vaibhav Joshi

Entrepreneur Staff

Features Writer, Entrepreneur Asia-Pacific

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