Surviving the Daily Commute

Regular readers will have heard me complain a lot recently about long days spent working.  The major reason for this complaint is that I live in rural Oxfordshire and spend at least three days a week working in London.

These days are long and arduous; the need to save money means that my commute is close to three hours each way; the overpacked, smelly, hot trains sandwiching a long day of work.

I’m not going to lie, it is exhausting.  I spent a long time working on the trains; sandwiching my work day with more work – clever I know.   It didn’t give my brain time to switch off and unwind and I felt that I had no personal time to relax and unwind during the week.  My stress levels rose and my enjoyment levels plummeted.

Yet there are ways to navigate the over-crowded commute without losing personal time or sacrificing self-care practices.  So I thought I’d put a few of these together for you.

How to Survive Your Commute - commuting tips and plus size workwear
Coat TrousersCamisole (similar)Bag (similar)Boots (similar)

1. Turn off the work email

This may sound obvious but we are connected all of the time. I flew to New York earlier in the year and was even able to manage work emails mid-flight.   I know that some people love the in-flight wifi but I feel it adds pressure to be responsive to work’s every beck-and-call.

Trains are no different – they all gave wifi.  They mean we can stay connected.  The very fact that we can be connected means that we feel we must be connected.  But really, does answering that query half an hour later really mean that the world is going to fall apart?

Most of us aren’t doctors.   For the majority of us, no-one will die if we’re out of touch for a few hours.

How to Survive Your Commute - commuting tips and plus size workwear

How to Survive Your Commute - commuting tips and plus size workwear

How to Survive Your Commute - commuting tips and plus size workwear

How to Survive Your Commute - commuting tips and plus size workwear

2. Use the time to discover …

Now that you’ve disconnected from you work email, take those hours spent on the train to discover something new or be creative.

I love listening to podcasts.   They open new doors in my mind and allow me to escape into other worlds, engage with international affairs, think about a topic in another way.  They also block out the noises of fellow commuters: no-one want to hear what they have planned for dinner on a daily basis.

My current favourite podcasts are:

  • What Page Are You On?   A book podcast by Bethanny Rutter and Alice Slater that focuses on their favourite reads based around a certain theme or topic.  They’ve given me so much book-aspiration lately.
  • Reveal.  An American investigative journalism podcast create by the The Centre for Investigative Reporting.  They give a really in-depth analysis of the topics they cover and have really made me thing about things like migration and drug addiction in a way I previously hadn’t.
  • Lore. You may have heard of this podcast as its just been turned into an Amazon Prime TV show.   I advise staying away from the TV version which just felt clunky and lost a lot of the flow and background found in the podcast which focuses on archival histories of creepy and unexplained occurrences across the globe.   It is a fascinating podcast and it makes me journey’s go so much quicker!

How to Survive Your Commute - commuting tips and plus size workwear

How to Survive Your Commute - commuting tips and plus size workwear

How to Survive Your Commute - commuting tips and plus size workwear

3. Or to be more creative … 

I’ve begun carrying a notebook and pen everywhere I go.   On those rare occasions, I can get a seat, I spend my journeys scribbling down thoughts and feelings.

I’ve always found writing incredibly cathartic and, given all the stresses of life at the moment, I’ve found expressing myself on paper to be so helpful for my own self-preservation.

You don’t need to write to be creative, you can get lost in a good book (check out my Commuter Reading List Amazon reading list for world’s to get lost in), sketch, knit, sew.  Anything that lets you relax, unwind, and switch off from those dreadful meetings.

4.  Talk … 

This is really pushing people’s comfort zones.   Especially if you are a born and bred Londoner.

People on public transport just don’t talk!

Yet, on catching someones eye, I frequently smile and say hello.   I’ve had some fantastic conversations on my journeys to and from work.   I’ve met people from all walks of life and learnt about their likes and interests, their families and their woes.   It makes me feel more of a person – less of a worker drone.   It switches of my mind and makes me feel more me … try it, I dare you!

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Do you have any commuter ideas?

C x

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35 thoughts on “Surviving the Daily Commute

  1. Loving the blue coat on you but that’s a bit beside the point! lol I am super glad I no longer have to commute, I think your idea to learn something new is really god, I also love podcasts but I have to admit when on a long journey I normally read a trash novel, so I can just disconnect. Mich x

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  2. That does sound like a killer commute tbh. If it makes you feel better I used to have to get on a rickety train to Bolton every morning which smelt like wet dog – so I do feel your pain. Podcasts were my savior and I agree with you that you can use the time to discover new things.

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  3. I love this outfit! I definitely found with working that when I was on the train my boss would often expect me to be available via email, but of course, if I was driving, I had an “excuse”, but I shouldn’t need an excuse if work hasn’t started yet! I love listening to audiobooks on the morning commute, as I don’t have much time for reading anymore.

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  4. I used to love a Friday commuting when I would meet my sister, and we would have a gin in a tin on the way home to celebrate the end of the week! Those days are behind me now, but your post reminded me of how stressful they could be. I think I would definitely be listening to plenty of podcasts nowadays too should I ever do any commuting again! 🙂

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  5. Wow that’s a long commute, I can’t say I envy you. I do think that reading or listening to a podcast/ audio book is a nice way to survive and not feel like you’re always working x

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  6. I have recently started to commute on the train a lot (luckily less than an hour each way and not 3!) and podcasts have been a lifesaver!

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  7. I adore the colour of that coat! I usually spend commuting time lost in a book. I find even trains can make me feel a bit travel sick if I try to type or email so something like Lord of The Rings, or Wuthering Heights is great. Love your ideas about podcasts though. Never actually tried listening to these.

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  8. I commuted an hour each way every day for 10 years. I didn’t realize just how exhausting it was until I started working from home. When I was in the car by myself I, like you, really enjoyed listening to podcasts or I’d make phone calls to my mom or friends. On the days I rode with someone else, I used it to catch up on reading. x

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  9. 3 hour commute each way? My goodness! That’s dedication. What you said about turning off the phone really resonates with me. I’m always on my phone every free moment I have, and there’s something so freeing about any time my battery runs out of power.

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  10. I have been for a week in London recently and oh my, I don’t know how Londoners manager that commute every day! It took me ages to get from one place to another and there’s no internet on the tube. Listening to a podcast is actually a great idea when you commute if you download it on your phone!

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  11. I travel on the train several times a month for work and I assume I’ll be doing more work on my laptop on the way home without really thinking about it, regardless of what time in the evening it is. Next trip I think I might just try to resist the urge to turn on my wifi!

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  12. Sounds like I’m doing a very similar commute to you, as I go from Twyford to Paddington on a slow train that calls at every stop 😦 unfortunately I do this 5 days a week – the time isn’t my biggest bugbear though, it’s the cost! Just under £500 a month for the privilege of not getting a seat on most trains (if a train isn’t cancelled, that is). But on the flip side, living outside London means I can afford a house! X

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  13. So true about always being connected, I’ve started turning off my wifi but downloading shows on the Netflix app and watching those on my journey. The time passes so quickly because I’m not thinking about the journey 🙂

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  14. Love this blue coat! I also try to disconnect when I’m on my commute. I enjoy listening to music and just zoning out or reading a book. I think my rested mind thanks me once I get into the manic office lol

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  15. You are stunning dear! I love these tips! I like to listen to podcasts when I am commuting from place to place. I like growing knowledge during that time.

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  16. Gorgeous shade of blue. And I totally agree about the TV version of Lore – podcast so much better (I think the fact that you have to visualise it yourself with the podcast makes it so much spookier).

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