I'm doing my commute somewhat differently this morning. Same wake time, same destination, and many of the same trains, but a special event necessitated a different pattern. It's amazing how much this shift has thrown me out of sync with my day. Not in a bad way, but in the way that I was sort of jittery about missing my train in a way that my normal patter has really ceased to evoke.
I told my fellow commuter that, while I could probably live without the time expenditure of the commute I'd grown fond of the rhythm and structure of the commute. It's nice to have my body in programmed to get up at a specific time, it's nice to have a fixed departure time to encourage me to get work done early and effectively, it's even nice to have some firewalled time on the train to get things done like emails and blogging. Obviously if it was possible to change some things, I would, but all in all its not as bad as it could be or as it may sound.
The main take away lesson from this is: that habits and patterns make it easier for us to cope with the world. And not just in a "habits make stressful situations, like commutes and compulsions easier to live," but having a routine established make it easier to spend your available time and brain cycles doing things you really care about rather than on keeping your head above water.
Also, I think as a secondary point, being able to take a block of available time and accomplish something concrete is an incredibly valuable skill. One of my biggest frustrations is with "dead time" where I'm waiting for something to happen, and I can't do anything with that time. Some technology helps with this: long battery life and systems that suspend/resume quickly and preserve "state" are great. Having a list of things that you can do that are easy to pick up and for a number of different situations, with different amounts of free time. Ideally, you don't want to have to spend time that you could be doing something, on thinking about what you ought to be doing.
Which I suppose is just another way of approaching habits.