It’s Monday again and I want to say that without sounding dull or predictable, but can’t seem to manage it. The truth is sitting in a bus with uncomfortable seats for hours tires me out more than anything else. I hope that isn’t the case with you, but if it is even close to how I feel about my commute, this post is definitely for you. I’ve decided that my Monday posts are going to be themed and for August, I’m going with ‘Daily Commute’ (you wouldn’t believe the sheer amount of time I dread it and actually do it).
You will find these standard ways of whiling away time everywhere – either people are glued to their screens even after spending a whole day staring at a different one or bobbing their heads to the music delivered through their earphones. Sleep is another one I chose to leave off my list simply because of how obvious it is. None of the below ways involve the stress of squinting at your phone/tablet/laptop, but rather aim to relax your mind and make your commute an interesting as well as a happy activity. All of these apply to people who use public transport or take a cab but many can be done by those who drive as well.
1. Listen to audiobooks
If the fact that I read in every spare second I can manage is news to you, I suppose you’re new here. This one tops my list because it gives you the joy of reading without the hassle of staring at the screen and straining your precious eyes. Some people don’t seem to count audiobooking as reading, but I believe that reading in any format is still reading. Unfortunately, I discovered that Audible doesn’t work for me, so I’m looking for Indian alternatives, but if any service is available in your country, do put it to good use.
2. Become Sherlock
This is inspired by the BBC show and I find that it is a good way to pass the time. It basically involves looking at random strangers and trying to guess what they do for a living or other obvious facts about them to piece together their “story”. Reading the books or watching the countless adaptations would give you a fair idea on what to look for. It is best played with a friend, much like how the Holmes brothers do a “deduction-off” with a client’s hat in BBC’s Sherlock. This has the added benefit of making you feel clever and engaging your mind.
3. Have an actual conversation
This had to be on the list because I myself find the prospect terrifying, but I’m happy to report that I spent this entire evening’s commute talking. For introverts like me, this is perhaps the most difficult on the list and I know exactly what that feels like. I find that talking to other introverts on long commutes is stimulating and makes me feel great (once I’m past the awkward introduction state), whereas speaking to an extrovert on shorter trips makes the time go by quicker and is entertaining. I’m lucky to travel with friends I’ve known since college or school on both the trips, so it’s a lot easier for me. This also a great way to practice gratitude (if you have a habit of doing that) by focusing on the positives in your conversation or relieving yourself of your stress by talking about the not-so-great things and then forgetting about them so you don’t carry your negativity home.
I obviously don’t mean the actual thing where you’re sitting with your back straight on a yoga mat with your hands in a mudra. The process of meditation either involves focusing intensely on something and tuning everything else out or the exact opposite where you try to achieve a state of “nothingness”. I’m no expert on the subject, but there are mild variations that you can do even as you sit in a comfortable position of your choice, so do keep an eye out for those. I’m not going to go into the benefits of this here because so many other people have said it so much better, but I will say that sometimes this is more relaxing than sleep, so give it a whirl if you’re into this sort of thing.
5. Play a game
I’m going to describe here one that I invented to turn the annoying wait at the red light into a happy one. You can use this or play any of your choice, as long as it accomplishes the same objective. However, substituting this with Candy Crush and the like defeats the purpose, so be mindful of what you choose. My game involves looking for three specific things – something you find beautiful, something funny and something you want – and either jotting them down or snapping a picture. A thing of beauty might be the face of someone on the sidewalk or a building or a tree or the sunset – the possibilities are endless. You can also challenge other people to do it, create a Pinterest board or Instagram post out of it or share it with your friends to spark a conversation.
How do you get from your house to your workplace or your school? Do you employ any of the suggestions on the list on your daily commute? Do you have any other ideas? Let me know in the comments section below.