On average, people who live near big cities spend nearly two hours each day commuting to work and back. This adds up to more than 500 hours—or around 21 days—per year!  That means most of us spend up to three weeks of our year on commuting to and from work. Geez.
However, it doesn’t all have to be lost time. You can use your morning and evening commutes to add a little something extra to your day. Here are 10 practical ways to make your commute a productive one.
(Of course, some of these will depend on your form of transportation. If you’re a passenger in a vehicle or on a train, you have more options. If not, use your best judgment and always drive responsibly.)
10. Listening to audiobooks or podcasts
Commuting gives you more time to learn new things about all sorts of topics. First, you can listen to work-related podcasts to hear about the latest industry trends. If that’s not your bag, listening to audiobooks is also a very pleasant way to make use of the time. There are many online audiobook libraries where you can find thousands of interesting titles. If you can’t seem to make room for books during the day, this is a great way to blast through your reading list.
9. Read company news
Company news is usually valuable info, but few of us pause to read the updates during busy office hours. Still, those announcements could help you discover and appreciate new developments in your organization. Take some time while commuting to review the corporate blog and social media profiles. It can reveal valuable knowledge that will help you stand out from the rest of your colleagues and feel more connected to your workplace.
8. Plan out your day
You probably don’t start a single project without a decent plan, and there’s no better opportunity to set your daily schedule than while you’re riding public transportation. You can use a mobile notepad to create your plan, then stick to the scheduled activities to increase your everyday efficiency.
7. Check your email & compose drafts
We usually check our emails throughout the day as we complete more important tasks. However, commuting gives you the chance to start your workday a bit earlier. You can check your emails while traveling and save regular business hours for serious work. For an even bigger boost, you can compose draft replies to the most important messages then send them when you get to the office.
6. Learn a language
Learning new languages can truly enrich your understanding of the world. If you’d like to get started, choose a language that suits your personal interests, whether it’s a place you’d like to visit one day or a language spoken by people you know. You can also study a language that improves your career prospects. Whichever way you choose to go, there are more than enough high-quality language learning apps to help you build fluency.
5. Brainstorm problem solutions
Most likely, you have to deal with numerous problems in your job. Coming up with the best solutions can be demanding and time-consuming, and the stress can dampen your creativity. Your old familiar commute gives your brain a chance to relax and come up with creative ideas. Without disturbances from your colleagues, you can have a few moments to ruminate on the biggest problem you want to solve that day.
4. Practice meditation
Meditation has gained popularity recently due to its various health benefits. It can help you relax and set your mind free from everyday stress. Plus, there are lots of apps and videos that provide guided meditation and soundscapes. The biggest challenge for commuters here is to ignore all the surrounding noise. But, as you keep practicing, you will soon find that you can meditate in any environment, regardless of external distractions.
3. Listen to music
Music has the power to inspire you in the morning and help you relax at night. We all have our favorite songs and artists, so of course, build yourself a playlist based on personal preferences. Additionally, I suggest that you try some chill-out music such as classical, lounge, or even lo-fi hip-hop. Using mobile radio apps, you can get a wide variety of free music channels. It’s the perfect way to add a little culture to your commuting hours.
2. Make a list of your goals
Who says that daydreaming is always bad? If you have big dreams about your career or personal life but never enough time to think about them, take the first step by creating a list of your goals. It’s a well-known fact that people who write down their objectives have a much higher chance of achieving them. Give it a try, and let your goals motivate you as you move through the day.
1. Record your achievements
Not only should you create a list of your goals, you should also keep track of your achievements. This is important for boosting both motivation and confidence. Seeing your progress will make you proud and eager to carry on. It also gives you a good recap to share with your manager whenever you discuss your performance and career aspirations.
Commuting to work every day isn’t always easy or fun. We all spend a lot of time traveling, so it’s worth it to find a way to use it productively. Try some of these ideas and see how it improves your productivity and the quality of your day.