In a true manic-pixie-dream-girl fashion, I sometimes spend my time on the road writing – or rather, typing on my phone. Diary entries, thoughts for my social media posts, or even, when I am feeling super dramatic, little fiction pieces about my fellow commuters, sometimes – even a poem or two. I know I probably don’t get kudos for it because I am still on my phone, but it’s not about appearances only, right?
Striving to complete my 10,000 steps routine, I commute between work and home mostly on foot, casting the next song of the month. And when I take the subway, I either inspect people's boots (if tired) or solve sudoku (if energized). Of these two, I prefer the second option, as the look of a finished puzzle gives me the feeling of accomplishment. In the good times, I also used to learn Italian on Duolingo – the three-station route was enough to practice the language for 10 minutes and call it a day.
In the mornings, when I’m much more awake – and sitting! – I like to use this time to catch up on my reading, whereas evenings with its rush-hour trains call for some hands-free activities, such as listening to podcasts – history podcasts for me now. What I’ve not realized up until recently is that the best way to make the most out of my commute is to actually plan it to the detail, as control freaky as it might sound. So now, I try my best to choose what I’m going to do/read/listen to on my daily commutes beforehand.
Since on an average day, my head feels like a disjointed mess of appointments, deadlines, and errands, I’ve come to view the commute as a good time to calm down and get a grip. There is something inherently relaxing about being on the road, isn’t there? That's when I pull out my trusty planner (or just the notes on my phone when it's crowded) and try to make some sense of the day ahead.
One of my favorite ways to spend the commute is letting my subconscious work on an idea. The trick here is to formulate a specific request – a different angle, next steps, a new solution – and then forget about it and let your mind wonder as you make your way to work. There’s a good chance that you’ll get a sudden flash of insight as you walk past your favorite building or see a useful clue in the world around you. My dad taught me this trick over thirty years ago – he worked by the Summer Gardens and used to take thea train from Ozerki to Finland Station specifically for this “idea incubation” experience – and I still use it today.