The commute…

How long is your morning commute? If it’s less than 30 minutes, you’re one of the lucky ones. The average New Yorker has 38.4 minutes of commute per day, surpassing every other major American city. That’s about an hour and fifteen minutes of your life…trying to go from one place to another.

During my college and medical school years, I had about a two hour commute to and from the hospital. At the time, I thought it was nuts, but according to Business Week, supercommuters are becoming more and more common.

Here are a couple of things I’ve learned along the way:

star Relax: Think about it. You’re underground/on a bus/on the train. Who is going to be able to get through to call you here? No one. Work is probably either behind or ahead of you. Your family at home are miles away. This is your time and yours alone. Turn up the music and enjoy the moment while it’s present.

star Don’t go with the flow: Because if you live in New York City, “the flow” is generally rushing, pushiness, stair-skipping, shoving nonsense. Who needs that? Unless you have a subsequent appointment to make, what are you rushing for? If you miss your next train, there will always be another one after it. Rushing will only cause unnecessary stress. As long as you’ve left your house on time, everything else is beyond your control.

star Bring entertainment in a bag: I’m surprised by how much reading I’m able to get done during my commute. I often have a book or two with me to keep me company and sometimes I’ll even take a sketchpad or journal. Some people swear by printable logic puzzles and sudoku. The best thing is to do something non-work related but mind-stimulating.

star Meditate: Mentally prepare yourself for the work day or reflect on what you have accomplished and where you’re headed. When surveyed, professional athletes admit that visualizing the event beforehand helps them make the win.

star Grab a coffee: Coffee tastes so much better in the morning and when I go to the hospital, I’m already pumped up and ready to dive in. I don’t need to dwaddle around and schlump through rounds. Keep a small, healthy snack in your bag to eat on the afternoon commute. Why go hungry and make a nose dive for the junk food when you get home? Nourish yourself now! The commute will be a lot more bearable.

Bottom line: On the commute, you are virtually off the radar. It’s an opportunity for reflection that we may not have readily given ourselves had it not been forced by habitation circumstances.

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