Are you starting your workday off on the wrong foot? Endless meetings, managing your employees and tight deadlines are all anxiety-provoking realities of life in your office, but these stressors might seem a little worse if you’re already tense from your morning travel. If you’re a ball of nerves before 9 a.m., rethink your commute with these five tips.
- Consider your options. Studies show that people who bike into the office are happier at work than those who drive or take public transit. It makes sense, not only are you avoiding stop-and-go traffic, but you’re getting some fresh air and exercise before the day starts. Cycling might not be an option depending on the length of your commute or the local weather, but take the time to think about what mode of transportation works best for you. Maybe you actually enjoy some alone time in your car, or maybe the chance to read a book on the bus is a great way for you to start the day. Whatever you choose, these next tips should help make it the best commute possible.
- Build in a buffer. There is no denying – mornings are hectic. And when you have an hour commute, but only give yourself 50 minutes of travel time, you’re setting yourself up for stress. Every small roadblock or delay will have your heart racing and your blood boiling. Instead, give yourself an extra 15 or 20 minutes of commute time so you don’t feel rushed. This might require a little planning and an earlier alarm, but starting your day off on the right foot will have lasting benefits. Besides, you don’t want to be caught speeding because you’re crunched for time; the added delay of being pulled over, the price of the ticket and maybe even an increase in your car insurance premium will put you in a way worse mood than waking up a few minutes earlier.
- Take a deep breath. Research is uncovering the undeniable benefits of regular meditation; it helps you relieve stress, increase your productivity, and even improve your physical health. You might not feel like you have the time to develop a regular practice of long, quiet meditation, but you can still take a few deep breaths at the beginning of your commute. When you get in your car, hop on your bike, or find a seat on the bus, take a minute or two to focus on your breathing. Close your eyes and breath in through your nose for a count of four, pause for a moment, and then breath out through your nose for a count of four. Do this five times – or until you feel a little more grounded – and then get going. Whenever you have a stressful moment in your commute, you can return to this breathing practice – just don’t close your eyes if you’re behind the wheel!
- Change the little things. “It’s the little things in life that make you happy,” right? The same can be said for your commute. If you’re stuck in the car for over an hour, you don’t want the extra aggravation of being too hot, too cramped or too hungry. Before you leave the house, make sure you’ve had a chance to use the washroom and eat your breakfast. In the car, make sure your seat is aligned properly, take off your bulky jacket, and set the temperature to something comfortable. Some light stretching before and after might help relieve any tension from sitting too long. On public transportation, you might have less control over the temperature or your fellow passengers strong perfume, but you can pop in headphones to cancel out some of the noise and wear a comfortable pair of shoes (you can change into your work shoes at your desk). Take some time on your next trek into the office to notice the little things that are driving you crazy, and make a plan to change them.
- Turn off distractions. Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of accidents, so if you use your commute as a chance to do your make-up, eat your breakfast or catch up on emails, it’s time to make a change. Like speeding, distracted driving puts you at risk for traffic fines, increased car insurance premiums and life-threatening accidents. You’re morning planning will give you a chance to eat and get ready in the house rather than the car. Your quick meditation will help you sharpen your focus. The next step is to eliminate your distractions – either putting your phone on silent or even hiding it in the glove compartment if you can’t resist incoming notifications. Drivers aren’t the only ones who can be distracted. If you’re on a bike, don’t check your phone and don’t listen to music that is so loud that it draws your attention away from your surroundings. The only time you might need a distraction is if you’re on a bus and don’t want to listen to your seatmates loud phone conversation!
Hopefully these tips will help you arrive to work happier and ready to face the day and crush it as an entrepreneur – regardless of the long meetings and crazy projects that await you.