A daily commute to and from work is regarded at best as a waste of time – and at worst as a drain on the commuter’s emotional and physical wellbeing. Optimising an unavoidable commute in order to be more productive and relaxed is what most people would like to achieve. What tricks are there to make the most of a long commute by public transport, to arrive at our workplace feeling our best? This article contains some ideas and the technology that can help us.

Tackling Work Or Switching Off?

With our smartphones, tablets, and other portable electronic devices always to hand, it is easy to engage in work when we’re on the move. The morning train ride seems like the ideal time to get stared on our work – especially if we have a smartphone like the new BlackBerry z10, which is optimised for business This way, when we get to the office, we’re already halfway through our To Do list!

On the other hand, turning off our mobile devices and using the free time to relax will allow us to reach the workplace in a calmer frame of mind. When work consumes all of our “down time”, we start to become stressed and unhappy.

For longer commutes, it might be sensible to divide the morning commute in half: the first part is devoted to waking up, getting the brain focussed and relaxed; in the second part, smartphones can be switched on to look at our work email inbox.

Non-Work Activities

When you’re in a state of relaxation with your mind off work, of course that is the time when inspiration strikes! If you have a lot of brilliant ideas on the way to work, consider downloading a simple note-taking app – for example, Noted works on BlackBerry smartphones and allows you to quickly type up and categorise your notes.

A good way to get your mind into the right frame for work is to read a newspaper, tackle a Sudoku puzzle or enjoy a couple of book chapters. If you’re not comfortable switching off your electronic devices, then don’t worry – the majority of newspapers and magazines now offer special smartphone and tablet apps for subscribers to access their electronic content.

The simplest way to lower your stress levels? Take some deep breaths. Allocating just five minutes of your morning commute to breathing exercises will invigorate you, freshening your brain for the tasks ahead. If you’re finding it hard to let go of your worries – or worry that closing your eyes will cause you to go back to sleep! – there are plenty of meditation apps. For the iPhone, there are apps for guided meditation (‘Take A Break!’) or basic meditation timers (‘Zazen (Lite)’).

Another easy trick is to sniff aromatherapy oils such as lavender or lemon oil. Both are well-known as stress relievers. If you want to wake up and kick your brain into gear, rosemary and peppermint are great stimulants. Dabbing a couple of essential oil drops onto a handkerchief, scarf, or your wrists will be enough.

Work Activities

Once you’ve properly woken up, it is time to mentally prepare for work.

To reduce your early morning stress, plan your schedule from the comfort of the train carriage. Write up your To Do lists or update your business calendar. This way, by the time you reach the office you will have a clear idea of what needs doing, and in what order.

Every morning seems to bring a new tide of emails to sift through. Some are more important than others, but checking them all takes time. By sorting your email inbox out on the commute, you will be able to filter out the ‘important’, ‘urgent’, and ‘non-important’ communications and deal with them accordingly.


Whether you utilize your commute-time for relaxation or work, there are plenty of tools out there to help you make the most of that portion of your day. Happy commuting!