4 Ways to Make Sure Your Morning Commute to Work Isn’t a Waste of Time

Joanne Poh



Singaporeans might think they’re becoming more gracious, but you can bet that whoever conducted that survey in the papers didn’t ask the respondents what they thought about local behaviour on public transport and in traffic. Everyone hates commuting, and the ever-present threat of the MRT breaking down, having seats snatched from right under your butt and having to punch at least 10 people to squeeze onto the train make commuting one of the most stressful events in a Singaporean’s life. In fact, in a recent survey, 44% of the business professionals surveyed said the commute to work stressed them out.

While asking you to enjoy your journey to work might be a bit of a stretch, the very least you can do is to make sure those one or two hours in transit each day do not become wasted time, precious hours that get lost in an abyss of angry fellow commuters. Here are 4 ways to make the most of that time.


Get work done

If you take public transport and are one of those people who’s forced to work overtime virtually every day, it’s a good idea to get a head start by clearing work-related tasks on your commute to and from work. By shifting some of your work from your cubicle to the MRT cabin, you can spend less time in the office.

Admittedly, this isn’t the easiest thing to do, considering that these days you’re more likely to strike Toto than get a seat on the train during rush hour, making laptop use impossible. To get around this, you’ll have to identify tasks that can be done on the move and then do a bit of preparation at the office.

For instance, if part of your job involves reviewing documents, print them out at the office and then take the hard copies with you on the train, making edits with a pen. Got a million emails to respond to? Do so on the go using your smartphone rather than waste precious hours in the office. Also, you don’t necessarily have to actually do work but just taking the time to plan the day ahead before you hit the ground running in the office can have a profound effect on your productivity for the day.


Become an Uber driver

If you drive to and from work regularly, make a bit of spare cash on your way to the office by becoming an Uber driver. During the morning rush hour, when office workers who overslept desperately try to get a cab, it is extremely easy to find customers.

When you knock off, link up with a customer who’s headed your way to make a few extra bucks on the way back. It’s a great way to subsidise the hundreds you pay each month to drive to work and park near the office.


Get some exercise

Those who are lucky enough to live less than 10 km from their workplaces might be able to turn their daily commute into an opportunity for exercise.

If you can walk to work in under an hour or live close enough for it to be reasonable to cycle, you can do away with your gym membership and still count on being lean and fit by the time you move on to your next job. If you have a foldable bicycle, consider cycling to the MRT station and then transporting your bike to the office on the train. The obvious cost savings aside, this is a great way to get more out of your morning trip.


Learn something new

Take a look around you on the MRT and you’ll notice lots of vacant eyes glazing over as they stare at the Candy Crush display on their smartphone screens, or follow some vapid drama serial.

Instead of spending 1-2 hours every day zoning out on public transport, learn a new skill or work on mastering a hobby as you travel to work. If you spend just one hour a day learning how to code, googling new recipes to try in the kitchen or planning to take over the world, you’ll be a lot better off than if you had let those hours on public transport go to waste.

How do you make use of your commuting time? Tell us in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.