Kick-start Your Commute!

By mattbuck (category) (Own work by mattbuck.) [CC BY-SA 2.0 or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

I had flown to London, for a meeting at one of the main financial centers, Canary Wharf. Realizing I'd hit the rush hour and remembering my days of working in the city, I knew I had to watch my step or get out of the way; fellow commuters en route to work would behave like robots, eyes closed, or focused on one fixed point (usually their paper), then getting off the tube and walking straight to the office looking neither left nor right. They had the potential to trample right over you, should you accidentally fall out of line or God forbid, fall over. I did in fact once trip on the underground stairs, and the lady who helped me scramble to my feet encouraged me with: "Quick, get up, get UP, THEY'RE COMING! " Back to Canary Wharf; there I was, wearing a cream mackintosh, like a lone white chess piece surrounded by black suited pawns. I smiled at the scenario, as although I was still on the chessboard of the working world, living in relatively quiet Geneva, I was no longer involved in the "game" in quite the same way as before. I could now really see the commute from an outsider's perspective. It was like a sci-fi movie; the futuristic buildings, with what looked like zombified clones moving past me, just focusing on getting to their destination. They appeared devoid of life, non-human; expressionless faces, vacant eyes. I had to phone someone to share what I was witnessing! Which brings me to the point of my article:

It's so easy to take the same route to work day after day and fall into a routine. Of course there's nothing wrong with routine, as long as it's serving you well. Routine can help give us structure and stability. However, it can also stagnate us if it leaves us drifting through life with a loss of awareness. When routine becomes stagnant, it's easy to become "programmed", as the clone-like commuters at Canary Wharf, traveling in a trance like state because you've done this journey a thousand times before, only to wake up when take your first sip of coffee at your desk.

So, here is some inspiration to refresh your trip to work and enliven you!

1. Change your route: Do you always take the same route to work? The quickest, fasted, most efficient one perhaps? The one that lets you have a little longer in bed? I invite you to change it. If you travel overland by car or bike, pick another route, perhaps a prettier more scenic one, even if it is a little longer. If you take public transport, particularly the underground/metro, and have the option, pick a different station to change trains or buses. If you have no choice, get off a stop or few earlier and walk the remaining way to work. If you are lucky enough to be close enough to walk, go a different way, just for fun!

2. Change your mode of transport: I realize this wont be possible for everyone but for those who can; do something else for a change. Instead of driving, take the bus. Instead of taking the bus, cycle or walk. You'll get a different perspective. If you are always traveling on your own, by being on public transport you will get to be with other people. If you are often on public transport and decide to walk or cycle you will get some time on your own. The pace and environment in which you travel will also change and you will have a completely different experience.

3. Change your entertainment/activity: If you are normally a reader, or have your head buried in your phone, do something else (for example listen to music, or a podcast). If you always read the paper, take a novel with you or do a crossword. If you have a hobby that's portable take it with you: perhaps you like writing, so start writing. If you have your hands free and some space, you could even do some craftwork! Which leads me on to the next point, you could just...

4. Look around you: If you don't have to have your eyes on the road, and are walking or on public transport look around you. If you normally look down, look up: notice the sky, the architecture or the trees. If you are normally in your thoughts, look at the different people who pass you buy. Pick something different to notice each time you travel. Pay attention, you may be amazed by what you see.

5. Meditate: Perhaps you are a super active person using every spare second to do or think about something. In this case you could use your journey to meditate. This is different to just zoning out. Actively use your time to focus on your breathing, and creating a calm space for yourself in the midst of the flurry. Perhaps you would like to repeat a positive statement in your mind to set your intention for the day. e.g. "Today I intend to be calm and peaceful".

6. Talk to someone: (I mean a real person not a virtual one!). Perhaps you sit on public transport with your head in your book or typing messages on your phone. Look at the people around you. Notice what's going on. If you feel comfortable with the person you are near to, start a conversation. Find out about your fellow man or woman. Just smiling at another person can put their day and yours to a great start and you never know, you might make a new friend or business contact, or who knows, even a romance!

7. Don't go straight to work: Wake up earlier, and stop off on your way to work, Perhaps you could have breakfast in a different cafe to the one you normally do? Maybe you normally eat breakfast at home or at your desk, so just going to a cafe would be a novelty. Perhaps you'd like to meet a friend also on their way to work at a mid-point? Some cities offer early morning lectures or concerts, see if there is one going on near your home or office. If there's a beautiful view or place on route, stop off and spend some time there.

What's the purpose of all this? Why shake up what's working? By all means if what your doing is working keep it going! Here's my question: How do you feel on your way to work work? Excited? Full of energy? Alert and aware? How do you feel when you walk into the office? Happy to be alive? Or does it take you the first cup of coffee to get into gear? How about if you walked through the doors of the building full of energy because you felt fully alive having already started seizing the day?

For those of you who already love their journey to work, please do share, I'd love to hear about what works for you and your ideas could help others. For those of you who feel that something needs to shift, I invite you to try some of these ideas out and let me know how you do. If nothing changes with regard to how you feel, I would I'd love to have a conversation with you to find out what really needs to happen to spark you up!

If you wish to contact me directly you can reach me at or via my website.