11 Ways to Make Your Commute More Bearable

Unfortunately for many of us, the daily commute is an unavoidable part of our working day.

Squeezing between other sleepy public transport users, battling it out for the last seat on the subway, and cursing the selfish guy next to you who is taking up about 75 per cent of it, are the all-too familiar commuter scenarios that send our pulses racing.

So if you feel like you’re exhausted before 9 am, it’s time to reclaim your mornings and evenings.

By trying out some of these commuter pursuits, you can not only survive your journey – but actually enjoy it.

No deep breathing required.

Get yourself some noise cancelling headphones, stick on a podcast, and take yourself far far away from the noise and body odor of your subway car. If you still haven’t listen to Serial yet (seriously, wtf?) get on that pronto. Or if you’re looking for the next best thing, try Freakonomics, for an economic look at every aspect of human life. There’s also Radio Lab, Woman of the Hour from Lena Dunham, and the Black Tapes Podcast.

Listen to an Audiobook
No one has read to us since bedtime as a kid, but there’s something seriously soothing about it. Often the author will provide the audio to their own book, so you could have Tina Fey reading her autobiography, Bossy Pants, or you really can’t beat Stephen Fry narrating the Harry Potter series. Audible has an app which allows you to listen from your phone, with the option to adjust reading speed – and for a subscription fee you can choose one title a month.

You could complete a crossword, learn a new language, or become a chess master supreme, all in the time it takes you to get to and from your office. Check out the huge selection of apps available on iTunes or for Android and find something that interests you, that will keep your occupied even when a sleeping commuter is drooling on your shoulder.

To those who say, “I’d love to, but reading on transport makes me travel sick” – I call BS. If we can look at our phones on trains and subways without a break then we can also make a huge dent into a bestseller during our daily commute. If you don’t love carting a heavy book around in your bag all day, pick a lighter paperback to read, or invest in a kindle or e-reader so you can tote War and Peace around without giving yourself back ache.

Stream TV
There’s no getting round it, Netflix and other streaming sites of choice are here to stay. That doesn’t make you a bad or uneducated person, but if you feel like it’s sucking up a substantial part of your evening then get some done on your way to and from work. You might even find yourself wishing your commute was a little bit longer, so you could catch the last little bit of House of Cards.

Plan Your Next Trip
A vacation to Thailand or mainland Europe is never going to seem more appealing than when you’re squeezed into a crowded streetcar, between a very contagious female flu-sufferer and a commuter who’s a fan of man-spreading. So instead of getting mad, put that energy into planning your next escape. Surf TripAdvisor or Airbnb for the best hostels and guesthouses, or if service is patchy, go old school and make notes in the margins of your Lonely Planet.

Make To-Do Lists
As soon as you get home and slump onto the sofa, all good intentions you had of making the most of your evening have a habit of flying out the door. But if you streamline your goals by making some to-do lists while you’re on the train, you’re chances of completing them are infinitely higher. Make a shopping list, an errands list or a goals for the week list – just making one will make you feel (slightly) better about being stuck in no-man’s land, between two sweaty businessmen.

Create a Playlist
If you don’t listen to the radio it can be hard to keep up with the latest artists on the music scene, and easy to listen to your go-to’s on repeat. So spend some time making a cool playlist on Spotify or Google Play for your commute, adding bands and singers you’ve been meaning to check out but never got around to. You can adapt these to your mood, by making an upbeat morning playlist, or a chilled out acoustic one for your wind down on your way home.

If you regularly hear yourself telling miffed friends, “I could have sworn I replied to your text message”, then perhaps you should set aside your commuting time to responding to them. We get it – you’re super popular. But if you’re too busy to ever reply people will just stop bothering, so use this free time to inform your mother that you’re still alive. Then once you get home you can be uber-productive – or at the very least, feel less guilty.

Read a Magazine
Magazines aren’t just for plane rides and holidays – but there is something indulgent about flicking through the glossy covers of your favourite copy. If you don’t have the concentration span for a novel, magazines are the perfect reading-lite option for your journey to the office. You can get them on your tablet too, but we recommend going for the genuine article for full enjoyment.

You’re 30 years old – stop telling yourself tonight is the night you’re going to bed at 9 pm. It isn’t going to happen, so grab a bit of shut-eye at the times when you need it the most – on your boring-ass commute to work. Power naps can be very restorative, so if you normally get a seat try planning ahead, by bringing a scarf or blanket and settling into a short sleep on your journey. Just be sure to set an alarm…