The Secret to a Happier Commute

by Barrett

Rushing through Grand Central Terminal is a tell-tale sign that your early morning hours could have gone better. Here’s what I always do to help ensure my commute to New York City gets off to a smooth start.

The last couple of times I met up with a group of colleagues after work, someone was in desperate need of a battery to charge up one of their digital devices. I was happy to offer a quick fix by loaning them my handy-dandy Anker Power Bank, which I always carry in my work bag.

Now, you might be saying, “Wow! Barrett… you’re so organized.”

Well no, not really.

My well-placed battery back-up solution is simply an example of an organizing process I put in place many years ago for my Metro North train commute to New York City, because I knew I needed it.

Mornings can be Rough
To be fair, commuting can be stressful and I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that trying to catch a specific train in the morning can be difficult when you’re also juggling family responsibilities.

All of those variables can create the perfect storm of having to rush through your early morning. And that’s where mistakes get made and forgetfulness bleeds into your experience.

And with hybrid work models, occasional commuting days can be even more challenging, because your morning patterns are not consistent.

It can get pretty crazy.

Plan Ahead
So, to neutralize the morning ‘commuting crazies,’ I realized long ago that I simply had to minimize as many decisions as possible in the early morning and time shift them back to the night before.

  • Choose what you’re going to wear and stage all of your clothes for the next day in an easily accessible place. (Rushing about in search of a matching sock the next morning always feels like amateur hour.)
  • Make sure your work badge/ID is positioned in the exact same spot in your work bag .(That way, you’ll never misplace it again.).
  • Replenish any snacks in your bag that you’ll want to munch on the following the afternoon. (My go-to snack is a mix of almonds, cashews and cranberries.)
  • And of course, pack that portable battery and charging cables for your thirsty tech. (Make sure you don’t forget to charge up your battery after a couple uses!)

What’s for Breakfast?
Breakfast planning is another variable that you should never have to think about in the morning.

If you choose to wait until you get to work, that’s fine, but if you’re fueling up before departure, know exactly what you’re going to do and how long it will take.

Boiling an egg requires eight minutes. Trying to shave off a couple minutes, because you’re rushing will actually take you longer in the end. (Have you ever tried to peel a shell off a partially-cooked egg?)

Keep it Simple
The actual traveling part of a commute can be unpredictable. I can’t help that (though noise-cancelling earbuds on a train are always a joy).

But better preparation can do wonders for your pre-flight checklist as well as the rest of your post-commute day.

Even if you are the most organized human this side of the Milky Way, I think it’s a waste to invest unnecessary brain power on commuting prep when you’re trying to get out the door.

You don’t need a Vulcan mind-meld to help juggle your morning complexities. The secret to a happier commute is obvious. Eliminate the rush by organizing yourself the night before. When you wake up in the morning, there’s nothing left to forget.

Then, you’ve just got to move your body around a bit, as your brain is now free to focus on other challenges in your day ahead. (Just don’t run yourself into any walls!)