How To Optimize Your Commute for Productivity

It is a kind of ‘non-time’, neither home nor work, neither public nor private, neither purposeless nor intrinsically useful.

The Italian writer Italo Calvino famously described the nondescript outskirts of every modern city – neither urban nor agricultural, neither full nor empty, neither inhabited nor uninhabited – as a ‘non-place’.

Commuting, a bridge between house and office, is to the workday what Calvino’s ‘non-place’ is to the city. It is a kind of ‘non-time’, neither home nor work, neither public nor private, neither purposeless nor intrinsically useful.

It is a fact, however, that there is no law telling us that time spent commuting has to be entirely unproductive. On the contrary. There is the option of beginning your workday early by taking your device from your pocket and scanning your emails and appointments. It is perfectly possible to go over your agenda for the day. To prepare for your meetings and calls; sketch documents and pitches; consider how to approach important conversations and queries.

But if we’re calling the daily commute ‘a bridge’, then let’s follow the metaphor through.

But if we’re calling the daily commute ‘a bridge’, then let’s follow the metaphor through.

If commuting is an extended moment of enforced inactivity before you arrive at the workplace and the action of the workday begins, this is a perfect time to strategize. Think of this strategizing as the building of a bridge between your current professional circumstances and the achievement of career or work goals.

Strategizing for your career or business is a matter of checking in with your current circumstances and your goals, of considering what must happen if they are to be achieved.

You might prepare a list of articles you want to read, or podcasts you want to listen to, with the intention of expanding your understanding of the context in which your business is operating or your work is performed. This might be material related to your industry. Being on top of things is generally a requirement for progress in the career or marketplace. A sense of the wider context, however, is incalculably valuable to progress.

The aim here is to prevent stagnation. To continue questioning. The sum of the world’s TED talks and discussions on politics, literature, cosmology, neuroscience or environment are potentially there to help you.

Of course, you might simply grasp the nettle and strategize your workday by considering the day’s obligations and objectives, reflecting on how they might be achieved.

While the actual business of work has a momentum of its own, being clear in intention at the outset of the day is a key skill in guiding that momentum usefully. And so, stuck in a train or a bus, we can do a daily review – simply a matter of considering what our most important goals are for the day and putting them at the top of the to-do list. Approaching the strategizing of tasks and obligations with a sense of playfulness opens the possibility of making the daily commute enjoyable. Even inspirational.

Our ADAPT Line of headsets can make this time useful and comfortable. Our headphones are designed to withstand years of the tightest-packed commute, with no sound leakage to disturb others. And active-noise-cancellation so you can stay focused and concentrate while working on the go.