Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

Conquering the commute

The commute to university or work can seem like such a drag and truthfully, such a waste of time. There are various ways the journey can be made a useful one, so make your time productive and start your day off right. With many students making the commute from Leamington Spa to Warwick Campus, twice a day, a forty minute journey is precious time to waste by simply scrolling through Instagram. Here are some of the ways in which you can have a productive commute.

Recharge and Revitalise

If getting stuff done on the commute isn’t on your agenda, why not take the time out to recharge and revitalise? Maybe you were up late the night before, running on minimal hours of sleep, take the time to catch some rest. Pop on some chilled-out music, put your headphones in and shut out the world, just for 30 or 40 minutes. Headspace is a great app to soothe and relax you, it helps to calm the mind and prepares you for a productive day. Taking some time to recharge and complete some self-care is just as important on your schedule as your work is, so if you struggle with finding time for a break, I would thoroughly recommend you to do so on the commute to university. This time is good for reflection. “Taking time each week during your commute to check in on your goals is a great way to stay on track and make adjustments,” says Teri Hockett, chief executive of What’s For Work? You can’t do your best if you’re not at your best, so make time to grab a break.

Catch up on Reading

Trying to find thirty minutes to spend catching up on the reading can seem somewhat impossible, so why not take the time on your commute to get your head down? In an ideal world we would all stick to our carefully planned timetables and hit the books the minute we walk through the door, but sometimes diving under the covers instead seems just that little bit more appealing. So why can’t we have the best of both worlds? Get your reading done on the way home, and then snuggle into the sofa or into bed feeling guilt-free and ready to conquer the world! Not only are you making the most of your commute and being productive, but you’ll probably find the time just flies by. The drive home can seem tedious, scrolling through the same posts until your Instagram pops up to let you know ‘You’re all caught up for today!’ Immersing yourself in a book, either for pleasure or for study, can make you lose track of time, and you’ll step off that bus knowing your upcoming rest will be well-deserved. If this still doesn’t seem convincing, just think of all the awkward conversations and small talk with the stranger in the next seat you could avoid by appearing to be busy.


Check in with Friends and Family

In the hustle and bustle of university, it can be so easy to touch forget to stay in touch with friends and family back at home. If you grab a quiet moment on the commute why not give them a call, or even drop a text to let them know how you’re doing. Staying in touch with family can sometimes be pushed to the back of our minds and we often prioritise work and meeting deadlines over contacting the ones we care about, so making this happen is just as important as your studies.  If you are living far from home, chances are you won’t have much time to physically catch-up with loved ones, so the commute can be the perfect time to do so. It’s likely that they will also be on their way to university or to work so they should also be free to talk. A good catch-up is often what we need to remind ourselves of why we are working so hard, so this chat can really shape your day and put you in the mood to face the world. Your friends and family will want to hear from you, so cherish the time you have on the commute to make that call.

It’s common knowledge that final year is a difficult and stressful time and being only four weeks in, I fully understand why. With three grad scheme rejections already in my pocket, pressure for a dissertation question looming and just the general stress from a degree, final year is living up to its reputation.

Listen to a Podcast

When you’re tired of the mindless conversations you can often catch on the U1, the Thursday morning after a Wednesday POP session, put in your earphones and involve yourself in a good ole’ podcast. Whilst we all love to eavesdrop on some bus gossip, sometimes you just need to escape from the general chit chat and listen to a new voice, gain a new view or perspective on a topic. Podcasts have become so popular over the recent years, so you’ll never run out of things to listen to, and I can guarantee you’ll never be bored on the commute again. Whether you choose something educational, cultural or even an interview, listening to something you can enjoy gives you a head start for the day, sparking your creativity and mentally preparing you for the day ahead. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the amount of reading you have left on your list, why not download an ebook? Sometimes listening to the book itself can help you to understand and process the content in ways you may not have realised before. As well as that, I think we can all agree that popping your headphones is far less daunting than scrolling through pages upon pages of work!

Train your Brain

If you’re just not in the mood to hit the books, and want a break from intense study, you should know that you can indeed stay productive, and make it fun all at the same time. The answer to a working break I hear you ask? Brain training! Whilst I’m not encouraging for you to dig out the old Nintendo DS with Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training game, there’s so many educational and stimulating apps you can download on your phone. Elevate is an app I try to use every day. It keeps track of your daily activity and shows you just how much you have progressed across your time using the app. Downloading one of these apps for the commute to university in the morning can really get your brain into gear and get you ready to tackle the day ahead. If brain training isn’t your cup of tea, why not try Duolingo and teach yourself a new language? Even something as simple as starting a crossword or sudoku can help. Researcher Ann Lukits claims that solving a crossword on a regular basis can “improve memory and brain function”, so why not give it a go!

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