By Susan Douglas

What are the best and worst commutes from home to work you've ever experienced? My best commute was a 10 minutes' walk from Golden Square London to Brook Street London. I arrived at work feeling refreshed. Years later, when my home and work locations changed, my worst journey involved a 20 minutes' walk, a train, two tubes, and another 10 minutes' walk. I arrived at work feeling exhausted! It wasn't the length of journey that was a challenge. It was daily fight to get on a train or tube that had squashed standing room only. I do things differently now but there is always room for improvement. Commutes can give or take energy away. Commutes can impact careers and businesses.

I digress to Morocco because this is where my latest learning about how to improve commuting experiences (and therefore wellbeing and productivity) has come from!

The Learning Experience

Many things grabbed my attention when in Marrakesh. In particular the similarities and differences to travelling, whether on foot or by car, in and around the Medina compared with London.

Whilst I have learnt the art of walking at speed through Central London's train and tube stations during peak hour without bumping into people, getting injured or injuring others, I do so with 100% attention. In the Medina, I didn't do so well because my attention was split between:

· Weaving my way through the maze of cobbled streets whilst trying to keep my Guide in sight so as not to get lost;

· Listening to my Guide as I didn't want to miss what he had to say;

· Soaking up the sensory experience of the Medina such as the sight of brightly coloured wares, the scent of many different spices, to the noise of many people, animals, and vehicles surrounding us; as well as,

· Navigating safe paths between locals, tourists, donkeys, horses, carts, vans, cars, motorcycles, and cyclists.

"Close your eyes and pray to God when crossing roads!" was the advice given by the Guide. It was advice I didn't take as I believe in taking responsibility for my actions! However, when I found myself between a rock and a hard place, his advice made sense! All of a sudden, I was surrounded by speedy carts pulled by horses and donkeys, motorcycles threading their way around me, and lots of old Mercedes going everywhere. I was stuck without a centimetre of room to move in. My choice was literally, what's the lightest thing to be knocked down by! That's when a local stopped his running horses for a split second to allow me an escape route.


Learning Takeaways

Be aware of what values you act on

My Guide advised Moroccans are encouraged to pray for health, rather than other things such as riches. Operating to high-end values such as health compared with low-end values such as, who is right and wrong in commuting challenges produces different results. The former, boosts your resilience and well-being. The latter triggers a stress reaction which can lead to road or pedestrian-rage. I prefer the former approach as most do, and would love to see even more of that in road culture, work culture, and so on, in the UK. It's a healthier place to be.

2. Respect self and others, make situations a win-win where you can

The locals seemed to collaborate and work together to enable all to get from A to B. Men regularly got off their carts to help others move items so as to free up road space and enable all to travel. This was done swiftly each time - there was no need for words, people just seemed to automatically react in that way. They were in control of the situation, the chaos, not the situation in control of them. People were gracious with one another when faced with commuting challenges. Perhaps it's easier to jump out of a cart in the sunshine to help someone rather than jump out a car in the cold and rain! However, I think there is more to it. Respecting self and others is assertive behaviour - a life and work skill.

3. Prioritize what you pay attention to in new environments! Don't get side-tracked by shiny objects! Distractions can be dangerous.

How does your commute make you feel? Does it help or hinder your well-being and therefore your productivity at work? If it hinders, consider just one of the above. Would it make a difference if you were 1% more conscious of the well-being of self and others? Would it make for a less stressful commute? Escapism activities such as reading and listening to music help, but addressing values can be a game-changer in home and work-life. Here's to making your commute to work, work for, not against you!

You will find more articles with tips to improve well-being and productivity here: Susan Douglas runs Work-Life Flow, a skills development business. She is passionate about helping people make the most of their work-life.