Mornings! Right? Very few of us pull into our office parking lot looking as happy as this girl pictured above. It's understandable: There are so many things that happen to us between waking up and walking into our office. A lot of these things are out of our control (the torrential downpour that came out of nowhere, the inexplicable traffic you hit on the highway, your toddler's meltdown over his socks being orange).
Luckily, though, there are a few things you can control. One of those things? How enjoyable your morning commute happens to be! Try these tips for a better getting-to-work experience.
1. Get your go-bag ready the night before.
No, not the go-bag you'd use in the case of an emergency — the bag of stuff you need for the next day. Pack your bag with your keys, gym clothes, important work folders, and anything else you'll need. This way, you don't start the day off frantically hunting something down when you should already be out the door. Oh, and if you're packing lunch, get as much done as possible the night before and then leave yourself a note on top of your bag so you remember to grab it from the fridge.
2. Leave a little earlier.
The biggest anxiety-inducing part of most mornings is traffic or unexpected delays. By leaving a little earlier than usual (even if it's just 10 or 15 minutes), you'll get a slight buffer that should help alleviate the stress if you hit a snag somewhere along the way. If you get to work early, well, there are worse things in the world.
3. Talk to strangers.
According to research conducted by behavioral scientists at the University of Chicago, mingling with strangers on your morning commute can help you enjoy the ride. If you're feeling up to it, tell your neighbor that you like her shoes or ask her if she knows if it's supposed to rain later. Try engaging in some small talk and you might have a better experience.
4. Or bring your own entertainment.
Don't feel like making small talk? That's totally fine! Instead of staring off into space, make sure you have something to read or listen to. Download some food-themed podcasts to listen to while you drive or stand awkwardly on the subway. Or throw a new cookbook in your bag and flip through it if you're lucky enough to get a seat on the train.
Some suggestions: The 10 Best Food Podcasts
5. Or enjoy some zen time.
There's nothing wrong with staring off into space if that's what you want to do, of course. If you just need some downtime, use your commute to practice some mindfulness (think about what your body is doing and the sounds you hear, for example) or just sit there and think about nothing. After all, once your day gets going, you're probably not going to have many opportunities to have some time to yourself.
6. Be courteous to others.
Someone will cut you off when you're driving on the highway or riding along a bike path. It's inevitable. Resist the urge to get angry. It happened and now you just need to let it go. (No beeping or bell-ringing — unless you're in a dangerous position — and no obscene gestures!) And maybe you'll accidentally step on the heels of a fellow train rider. Apologize. It really is that simple. If you stew on things, it'll point the morning in a bad direction. And if you're nice to people, they'll be nice to you.
7. Take your tea or coffee with you.
We're all nicer and happier once we've had our morning cup of coffee. Instead of waiting to have it once you're in the office (or buying it from a too-expensive shop on your way in), make it at home and bring it with you to enjoy during your ride or drive.
8. Switch up your route.
Try going to work a different way a few days this week. Take a different train line or drive on the back roads instead of the highway. You'll get your brain thinking more creatively, which could trickle down once you start thinking about work — and that's always a good thing. Bonus: You might even find a faster or more enjoyable route.
What do you do to make your morning commute as good as possible?