Woody Allen once said that ‘80% of success is just turning up’. Whether Woody’s maths is entirely accurate aside, this clearly irrefutable statistic is likely to be of some consolation to the thousands of commuters shunted through London’s tubes and along its tracks for hours just to sit at a desk.
Indeed, much of the world is urbanised, with job pools colossal in major cities compared to further out in the sticks. So, in cities where there are more jobs than homes, how do the more geographically challenged of us fare?
Honestly? Badly. But stay with me, this has a happy-ish ending. In 2011 Eric Jaffe released an article with citylab that drew on the grim statistic that those who take from half an hour to an hour and a half to get to work were more prone poor sleep quality, general health issues and exhaustion. The overall mental health of those involved in the survey also suffered.
Also, not to rub salt in the wound but this study was undertaken in Sweden, one of the happiest nations in the world. Not even the blissful Scandinavian lifestyle is equipped to deal with the drudge of the worker’s commute. We are all in it together.
With actually being at work probably one of the most important components of your capacity to actually do your work, though, it really isn’t something we can toss aside like a bad habit.
Still, viewing it as something to be obediently endured is just as detrimental to your health. Instead, (and I know this is a huge ask) see the time you spend commuting as free time, something that is yours. The effort it takes to remember your route is minimal so dedicate some time to a book or some music.
Easier than that is customising your space. Bring a pillow on the train if you like; it’ll put you at something akin to ease. Don’t go insane obviously, lugging a duvet between tube stations like an enormous, cosy health hazard.
I suppose the thrust of this piece is that it’s easy to be cynical about commutes, but they aren’t going anywhere and neither are we, so we need to find some way to get along with them.