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.

Stephenson’s Rocket [Wikipedia]

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.

Preparation

  • 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
A rare empty train carriage

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.

Husband. Dad to 3 smashing lads. Cub Leader. MAMIL. Group CDIO for Northampton and Kettering Hospitals. Ex NHS Digital. Views own. Always learning.