Hacks To Make Going Back To Office Easier (Part 4) – The Commute

7 ways to keep yourself occupied productively when taking a trip to the office.

By Chris Ong        18 January 2022

These are the more common things that some of us, if not most of us, do on public transport while on the way to work.

Lol-ing at TikTok challenges, scrolling through Instagram for some visuals to like, or uwu-ing at cute cat vids. Tapping furiously on your mobile game, watching some silly variety show on YouTube, or window-shopping mindlessly on a shopping platform. Catching your 40 winks or just daydreaming.

There is nothing wrong with doing all of these; there isn’t much one can do while on the train or bus to the workplace, is there?

Wrong. There are lots more productive and beneficial activities you can actually engage in. Start your journey to work afresh for 2022 – when and if you need to return to the office – by trying out these ones out while bussing it, on the MRT or even during your hailed ride.

(Complete the “Back To The Office” series by reading Parts 1, 2 and 3.)

1. Read A Magazine

It may be old school, but it helps infuse some of the “slow life” benefits into your daily grind. Flipping the physical pages of a mag helps to start your day easy, by either bringing your mind into focus steadily or settling you down into your zone of calm before the office frenzy begins.

Our top reco: Subscribe to some neat-o Nat Geo (National Geographic in full) titles for an educational read. It’s your smarter choice, considering how the non-profit organisation’s magazines are well-written repositories of informative content about science, world culture, history, geography and nature.

Titles to nourish your grey matter: the National Geographic main magazine (it’s available in digital format, too), National Geographic History, and National Geographic Special Issues (these ones deal with a specific thought-provoking theme or subject). And, as a plus for those of us with kiddos, there are its Kids and Little Kids magazines to subscribe along with yours, too!

Visit www.natgeosubscriptions.com to find out the rates and how to subscribe.

BONUS: SAFRA members get to enjoy up to 49% off selected National Geographic magazine titles, as well as a Family Bundle Deal for subscriptions to National Geographic magazines at MagEZ Classic. Click here for more information.

2. Read More Finer Print

If magazines aren’t quite your speed, then maybe you would like takes things even “slower” by perusing a book, then.

While you can pick up the latest fictional page-turner or work from your favourite author, you can also explore books from other genres that could help you professionally, or for your well-being.

Think self-help books, instructional titles on hobbies such as plant-growing or cooking, autobiographies, or books related to your area of expertise. The number of non-fiction books are endless, as are their benefits to all aspects of your life, including your career. Whether you choose to go traditional print or digital, it’s your call.

3. Search For Courses To Take

Upgrading and upskilling yourself while you’re still at a job can be done with some clever time management. As is looking for one, while on the way to your day occupation.

Make the most of your commute by searching for educational or professional courses, programmes or workshops to take (online or otherwise). For starters, try Skills Future Singapore or any of the local tertiary education institutions that offer courses that are open to the public.

Or, if you’re a SAFRA member, look to SAFRA’s own Bond-Free Education Scheme, that provides opportunities and sponsorships for applications for various bond-free diploma, degree and master courses at renowned institutions. While the application period’s closed for now, you can click here to find out more and to keep yourself updated.

And, when you’ve settled and started on a course, we shouldn’t need to tell you to do this: You can make it work by studying on your long-haul trip to work!

4. Get Newsy

Leave all the online and digital amusement and entertainment for during the weekends, days off or on the way home from the office. Instead, get clued in on the going-ons in Singapore and around the world by catching up on the latest news during your early morning ride.

It may be an “adulting” thing-to-do, but reading the news while on the go can help psyche you up to go into your serious “work” mode and is quicker for you to absorb since its usually written up in digestible reportage.

Plus, consuming a daily diet of quality journalism (or some convenient and up-to-date newsfeeds or trustworthy social media platforms, if you are really squeezed for time) gives you the current social-economic knowledge you might need for the industry you’re in, as well as for informal office conversations with colleagues.

5. Listen To Podcasts

Here’s one great way to sponge up topical information, culture and news: Plug into a podcast.

If you’re the type that might be too blurry-eyed or rushed to take in visual text in the AM or get a headache from wordy articles in a publication while on moving transport, it makes sense to just listen to a podcast instead.

And, there are loads to choose from. Take your time to hear out a few before picking a favourite; try some from the ever-dependable BBC Sounds stable, or any from the larger news networks or organisations to get your news A-game on. Or, just dive in and open your ears (and expand your mind) to interviews, crimes and mysteries, and a myriad of other shows in the podcasting world.

6. Tune Up With Music

If you can’t deal with all that chatter either on podcasts or around you physically, just tune in to some music. It’s a social habit as old as when the Walkman first came into prominence (some of us might need to Google this).

Getting into your Spotify list or into your musical headspace while shutting out ambient traffic noise can help relax you, to actually deal with whatever that could land up on your desk during your workday.

7. Plan For The Weekend

Yes, planning for fun can make for a productive activity on your ride, too.

It may be a little daydreamy, frivolous even, but figuring out your off-work agenda while jostling with the crowd on the bus or train is perfectly fine if it helps with making you labour harder during office hours, so that you can look forward to playing harder during your days off.

So, feel free and go ahead to WhatsApp your friends and family to discuss your plans, set dates on your Google Calendar, or create all of your “to-do” lists without guilt. Consider it your personal admin and HR work for your own company called “My Social Life”.