Here’s a thought. How about the next time you’re commuting, do it without the company of your phone. Switch off your e-mail, Instagram, Facebook and the like, the precious leadership podcasts and e-books, even your relaxing beam-me-away music. Put away your phone all together and have a look around. A scary or just plain stupid thought? After all, commuting is boring and we should make good use of the time. Well how about re-defining ‘good use’?
It’s so easy to kid yourself with thinking that you’re working efficiently when you’re constantly checking your e-mail on that 20-minute bus ride and the two-minute ride down the escalator to the metro. Sure, sometimes they prove to be the most convenient times to check the Twitterverse.
But who are you actually serving when you donate your attention to the endless mind-grabbers lurking in your mobile phone? Whose precious time are you spending?
Reclaim your commute! Make it your time again — not your employer’s, or the attention junkies on social media, or the apps you’ve grown addicted to.
Lately I’ve found that the more I rush from one meeting to another around town, switching from one role to another, the more I need to log out to tune into my next task. I can’t greet a new situation with a fully open mind if it’s still working on something else. Not only do I need the time to refocus and calm down, the people expecting me deserve my attention. Especially the ones waiting at home.
I urge you, as well, to try to put down the phone, even if for only one leg of your journey or for one day a week. Forget about getting stuff done and open your mind to what’s happening around you. See what you can spot through the train or bus window. There’s always something different even in familiar scenery, every single day. There might even be someone on the same ride you might share a smile or word with (go on, dare to face the Finnish nightmare of acknowledging the presence of strangers in close proximity…).
Chances are, you could end up arriving at your destination a bit more focused, a bit more relaxed — and dare I say even a bit more happy — when you’re not concentrating so hard on being somewhere else than you actually are.