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Making the Most of Your Commute

Making the Most of Your Commute

by Geoff Balmer

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Sydney boasts a smorgasbord of positives; from golden beaches to gastronomic delights, as well as a healthy accounting job market. What is not included in that list of highlights is the time it takes to get to work. A Government research report shows that the average Sydney-sider commutes at least 71 minutes a day and more than a quarter of commuters spend over 90 minutes on the round trip getting to and from work. Proof that travelling has become an inherent part of Sydney’s daily life! Many are able to use this time to simply switch off which is admirable, however there are many alternative ways you can use this time to your advantage and improve personal productivity. We asked a number of leading Accountants how they make the most of their commute and here’s what they said:

Take Time to Plan

Whether on a bus, train, ferry or in a taxi, taking the time to get organised and plan the day ahead was cited as one of the main activities undertaken in a commute. Many of our Accountants check their ‘to-do lists’ and prioritise actions from most important to least pressing, making changes where necessary. This provides a great strategic blueprint on how best to spend work time. Tools such as Evernote, OneNote or Google Keep are great for this, and also store everything you do in the one place because they all sync between mobile devices and your desktop computer.

There are also occasions where you may need to research a specific problem, or need information for an important presentation or meeting that’s coming up. Consider using the commute to search for the solutions to any tasks.

Clearing the Inbox and Taking Phone Calls

For some, the morning commute is the ideal time to tend to messages and take phone calls on the go. Conquering the incessant volume of emails can often feel like a never-ending task. It can also get quite overwhelming and break the momentum of a workday when you are constantly being interrupted by the pop-up ‘You’ve got Mail’. That’s why going through emails on the way to work saves many Accountants precious time in the morning – up to an hour for some. When there is no internet access, creating a draft copy that can be sent off once in the office is another good idea. As an Accountant you may need to be conscious of privacy and what is suitable to view on public transport, however as long as you’re checking your communications safely (and you aren’t likely to annoy fellow passengers!), this is an effective way to get ahead and start the day productively.

Podcasts or Audiobooks

When you have had enough of screen time, it could be time to let your ears take charge and using your commute time to catch up on informative podcasts or entertaining audiobooks. This downtime can help to expand your knowledge and develop new insights, and can be done on any form of transport, even driving so long as it is done hands-free.

For the traditionalists out there, actual books have not been discounted either! Some of the Accountants we spoke to find the tactile feel of a book comforting, and a great vehicle for both escape and education.

Expand Your Skillset

If you’re feeling particularly ambitious in using your commute, you might want to use the time to learn new skills. There are a multitude of great online course providers available to help you learn essentially anything you wish to, some of which are even free (such as Coursera). A number of our interviewees have even taken this time to explore new languages. Apps like Duolingo make it easy to practice your newly found linguistic skills out loud, and the car is the perfect place to do so.

If you’re on your phone, the Pocket or Instapaper mobile apps can also save articles or videos in one place to read on your commute when you have more time. If you prefer to use your laptop, bookmark the articles you want to read for later, or save them on other platforms like Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn Pulse to name a few.

Set Goals

One of the best ways to continue achieving goals is to constantly check and nurture them. Using your travelling time to see how you are tracking is a great way to stay on top of your progress, and digital tools like Coach.me make it easier to not only set work targets, but personal ones too.

Carpool with Colleagues

It was enlightening to find out that quite a few people carpool for their commute. In what might be a surprise, the principal driver for this was not to save financially, but for environmental reasons and to strengthen team relationships, discuss projects or to gain greater insights into their Accounting role from a more experienced colleague. So, find a mentor and offer them a ride! It could be a great way to elevate your career.

Beat the Rush

If the image of a bottleneck of scrambling crowds vying for position on the bus strikes dread into you every day, then it’s time to rethink your game-plan. Leaving home earlier than usual is a great way to beat the rush and enjoy your journey. Planning your attire, packing your bag and preparing anything else you might need the night before saves a great deal of time in the morning, maybe giving you an opportunity to try out a new café on the way to work! A few people  even get off a few stops before their destination and walk the rest of the way, often taking new routes.

Summary

A stressful daily commute to work seems to be as big a part of Sydney’s way of life as the iconic Opera House, but it doesn’t have to be like this! Though travel times aren’t  getting any shorter and many of us would prefer to divest ourselves of this seemingly unpleasant start to the day, there are ways to make the most of this daily pilgrimage. Plan your day, listen to a podcast or read your favourite Sydney Accounting Blog! Give it a try and let us know how you go. Who knows, you may even forget you are commuting!

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