11 Ways to Make Time Fly On Your Commute

Hannah Watkins
Hannah Watkins|

Ah, the commute. Officially considered one of the most stressful components of a typical Londoner’s day. Whilst the average travel time in the UK stands at a painful 54 minutes (already quarter of an hour longer than the worldwide average), those in the capital endure an excruciating 74 minutes, each way, every day.

london underground tube sign

A simple bit of maths: that two and a half hours a day spent travelling equates to 12 and a half hours a week. That in turn scales up to the best part of four whole weeks a year – which is basically an entire month you’re squashed against a sweaty stranger whose music is too loud. It doesn’t bear thinking about how much that adds up to over a lifetime.

And with a long commute identified as one of the most unpleasant elements of the London lifestyle, with those enduring long commutes more likely to suffer from stress and depression, the thought of the Northern Line doesn’t necessarily make you to want to jump out of bed in the morning.

So, how can we make the most of this huge proportion of our time? What easy tweaks can we make to our daily routine to ensure that these hours aren’t wasted? Here are a few ideas from the Hubble team:

1. Listen to podcasts

The Hubble team are big podcast fans. And with so many genres and subject matters to choose from, it’s not hard to find one that suits you. Listening to podcasts can help you get inspired, stay educated and informed, learn new things or even just escape. They’re free, you can listen offline, and they’re an easy way to dip your toe into topics you’d never previously given much thought.

people in suits going down public transit escalator

Our co-founders Tom and Tushar are huge podcast advocates; their particular favourites including everything from a16z, to How I Built This, to Hip Hop Saved My Life.

2. Read actual books

With work still to be done on the dodgy underground WiFi, the commute is a good time to read an actual book. Let’s face it – no one’s talking, so you’re less likely to be as distracted – and it’ll help you avoid the awkward eye contact despised by any self-respecting commuter. You could also do with giving your eyes a rest from looking at a screen – you’ll probably have enough of that before your return journey.

If you’re looking for some literary inspiration, our team finds new reads from sites such as Goodreads, or subscriptions with Libreria – the fantastic bookshop of innovative workspace Second Home.

library bookstore libraria by second home

3. Bookmark and read articles

Rather than feeling like your only choice is to resort to some sort of free newspaper, why not spend your time perusing articles you actually want to read? Using the Pocket app, you can save all manner of articles in one place for easy reading on your commute. Get content from a number of places: directly from your browser, emails, or from over 500 apps like Twitter, Flipboard, Pulse, and Zite.

4. Discover new music

If reading and clinging onto a handrail at the same time sounds like more hassle than it’s worth, then why not keep your music taste fresh and use the commute as your time to discover new tunes. Spotify’s Discover Weekly feature is a great way to find music of your taste, or use the time to give a new album a chance.

On a similar note, audio books are also a good shout – and are a particularly good idea if you’re prone to travel sickness. You can download and listen to books on Audible at any time, with or without internet, making it perfect for the commute.

london double decker bus in front of big ben

5. Get ahead on life admin

There’s always life admin to be done. Emails to reply to, texts to send, calendars to update. Use your commute time get ahead on it all – these tasks can all be done offline, and they’ll sync when you’re connected again. You can also utilise apps like Wunderlist and Evernote to sort your to-do lists; or if your phone memory is struggling, just go back to basics with some good old-fashioned pen and paper.

6. Set goals for the day

If you feel that sometimes it can take a little while to get into the swing of things when you arrive at work, then maybe it’s a good idea to start setting some goals whilst you’re in transit. Early in the morning, simply processing what jobs you actually have to do can be a task in itself. By using the time on your commute to contemplate exactly what you want to achieve in the day ahead, you’ll have a running start for when you arrive at your desk. You just need to be clear what needs to be done, and the steps you’ll need to take to achieve such goals. If you’ve sorted that on the tube, you’re halfway there already.

businesswoman writing in notebook

7. Learn a new skill

Take that average time spent commuting above, and imagine what you could achieve if you ploughed it into learning how to do something new. Given the space restrictions on the Jubilee line, learning a new instrument or sport might be off the cards. But how about trying out a new language?

If you don’t think you’re up to a 74-minute session of Russian grammar at 7.30am on a Monday morning, then try an app like DuoLingo. A session only takes 15 minutes, but that’s enough time to make some serious progress, and feel like you’ve done something valuable before your working day has even officially begun.

8. Meditate

In a hectic, technology-based world, it can be hard to switch off sometimes. That’s why many are turning to meditation as a way to clear their heads – in fact, consumer spending for the top 10 self-care mobile apps is already up 40% on 2017. As ironic as it may seem to resort to a smartphone app in order to escape the digital world, the reality is: if it’s pretty unavoidable anyway, why not use it for good? Apps such as Headspace, Calm, and the Mindfulness App are amongst the most popular, it doesn’t take long at all to have an impact, and users swear by it.

london underground

 9. Up your steps

Working in an office can often lead to a sedentary lifestyle – yet another cause of stress and depression. Kill two birds with one stone: get off the tube/bus/train a stop or two early and walk that last few minutes to work. As well as increasing your step count, getting some nice “fresh” London air can wake you up and make you feel more ready for the day ahead.

10. Chill out

Being productive every minute of the day is great – in theory. But everyone needs a bit of downtime every so often. Don’t be afraid to take that time to chill. Scroll through Instagram. Enjoy some memes. Play some games.

A large contingent of the Hubble team are big fans of playing Kingdom Rush, but just do something that makes you feel good – and don’t feel bad about it.

11. Find an office closer to your work

If all else fails, why not trace the problem back to the source? Find an office that’s closer to home, and make the commute shorter in the first place.

And as it so happens, that’s something we can help you with!


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