This blog is prompted by a comment from someone on Twitter asking for tips on how best to work on the train. I don’t know if this is the best, but having worked on trains for at least 4 days every week for nearly 5 years, this is what works for me.
TL;DR: It’s not Rocket science. TRAIN TIME IS WORK TIME. Be prepared. Have some goals.
To give some context, my journey time is sometime between 1h 15 mins and 1h 40 mins, depending on the train I catch and I’m fortunate that is very rare for me not to be able to sit at a table seat.
- Everything in the same pockets in my rucksack (including the all-important season ticket)
- Phone enabled to act as a mobile hotspot
- Laptop and headphones charged the night before
Once on the train
- Once I’m on the train, I’m into work mode. I get my laptop out, put headphones on, connect to the internet (East Midlands Railway have just started offering free Wi-Fi, but I also can use my mobile as a hotspot).
- I find it helpful to have goals on what I want to achieve on the journey. I have a priority order:
- 1. Reports: Sometimes I know I have some papers I need to review for the day ahead or a report to write and I find my journey is sufficient to get through the papers for a Board meeting, or make a decent start on writing a report structure.
- 2. Looking Ahead: I look at my calendar and look to see what meetings are ahead and see if I have any prep to do for today or tomorrow.
- 3. Emails: Doing emails is the last resort, and generally get more attention on my going home commute than on the way.
- NEVER PHONE CALLS. Who wants to listen to my waffle? Who could be listening? And besides, the signal is really rubbish on my journey. In my view, to take a call is to miss out on the interrupted opportunity a train journey gives you.
Getting off the train
- I’ve got quite good at maximising my time, and working out of how much time I actually need to pack up once the train starts to slow down. I’ve got so I can have less than 10 seconds “dead” time now. It’s a small moment in my life of living dangerously!
It’s Not Rocket Science
None of what I’ve said will be very revolutionary. I think the key is to get your head in the space that train time is work time. Everything thereafter falls into place.