Woman standing on train platform as train rushes past

If you’re creative on your commute, you probably live in Scotland

The most creative commuters live in Scotland, a new study has revealed.

Workers in the UK spend an average of 54 minutes getting to the office – about a year of their lives in total – and nearly half of that time (46%) is spent coming up with new ideas or starting projects, the survey by Microsoft found.

People commuting in Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff were most likely to feel inspired by their journey, the research revealed, followed by the English cities of Sheffield and London.

Leeds emerged as home to the most inspired people overall, followed by Plymouth, Belfast, Sheffield, Southampton and Edinburgh.

People in the UK found that the daily commute sparked their creativity, as they revealed they are more than three times as likely to feel inspired when they’re out and about (23%) than at work (7%), with a quarter (24%) of commuters seeing something on their journey that has inspired them.

Suli Breaks, a spoken word artist who along with composer David William Hearn was tasked with using a Microsoft Surface Pro to create a piece of poetry set to music, said: “Inspiration can strike at any time, so it’s important people don’t limit how and where they express their creativity. However you make your journey, the commute can be a great opportunity to reignite that creative flame and people should use this time wisely. The Ode to the Commute lyrics are aimed at capturing this for people in an interpretable way.”

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Microsoft Surface Pro

In London, the Metropolitan emerged as the most inspiring Underground line, with one-in-six saying they have found inspiration on the route. Met users spend an average of 53% of their time on creative pursuits such as drawing or writing.

The Circle and Waterloo & City lines were populated by the least creative people.

The survey of 2,000 people in the UK revealed that the commute was a time when people could concentrate on something other than work and home life. Fifteen percent said they had come up with new creative design ideas for their home, 17% had started to plan new projects and 13% had created a blueprint for starting their own business.

Blueprints for a house

Fifteen percent of people said they had come up with new creative design ideas for their home while commuting

Finding the time to be creative was a big issue overall, with commuters saying they needed an extra two hours and 13 minutes every day to get everything done. A fifth also admitted to avoiding creative activities due to a fear of failure, while a sixth (14%) claimed they didn’t have the right tools.

Women were 20% more likely to find that time at a desk limits creativity, and were 19% more likely to feel creative between 5pm and 11pm. Men said they hit the peak of their innovation between 5am and 9am.

There was also an age split: those aged between 18 and 34 were 31% more likely to feel creative in the evening, while those aged 55 and over were 31% more likely to feel creative before 9am.

Surface Studio on a desk, it's night-time outside

People aged between 18 and 34 were 31% more likely to feel creative in the evening

“It was really interesting to see just how far creativity reaches into all aspects of our lives, from reducing stress to making the most of the commute,” said Ellie Richardson, Surface Consumer Lead at Microsoft.

“Whether you’re a musician, writer, business person or just want to make the most of your free time, wherever you find your inspiration, it’s important that you have the right technology to capture and fuel your creative ambitions”.

Dr Sara Jones, Course Director for the Masters in Innovation, Creativity and Leadership at Cass Business School and a Senior Lecturer in Creative Interactive System Design, said a change of scenery can often lead to great ideas.

“The environment outside of the office can be a rich source of inspiration, and research tells us that environments that include natural features, such as trees and plants, can boost creativity,” she said. “A simple change of environment can be helpful for increasing creative productivity, as can the physical activity that is often involved in being out and about.

“Time spent commuting can also function as time for incubation, a part of the creative process in which the unconscious mind can get to work on developing new ideas, so its perhaps not surprising that many people have their best ideas when away from the office.”