All over the world, people are commuting to and from work every day as part of the global rat race. Whether you’re commuting by foot, on public transport or by car, you may have resigned yourself to the fact that commuting is “dead time” – time spent simply trying to get from A to B. This is true for many people even for long commutes of half an hour or more. But what if you could harness that dead time and make it a productive part of your day? When circumstances allow, many people read books or newspapers on their commute, but what if you could use this time to learn a new skill or make something? Changing the way you look at your daily commute can really help make what seems like wasted time into one of the most productive parts of your day. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Learn a new language
If you commute by public transport, why not use the time to pick up a new language or maintain your knowledge of one you’re already learning? Apps like Innovative language and Duolingo are the perfect way of fitting short language lessons into your commute. You can listen to phrases or conversations, complete exercises, etc. All you need is a phone and a good pair of headphones (see dextroaudio.com for some ideas).
Of course, there are apps for learning more than just languages. Why not use your commute time to learn how to read music instead? The key is to keep things short and fun, so that you’re not overloading your brain. Most people are still waking up while on the way to work and are exhausted at the end, so you want your study experience to feel more like an entertaining educational game than a full-on course.
If your commute involves driving, you can still use the time to learn a new language. There are plenty of CDs available that are audio oriented, rather than visual. Why not use the time in traffic to practice your French?
Some crafts lend themselves to public transport – cross stitching, knitting and crochet are all fun crafts that can be easily adapted to your commute. You may not be able to give your craft your full attention while you’re travelling, but even knitting a simple scarf can turn a dull commute into a productive time that will leave you with a useful item of clothing. If there’s nowhere in your area who can teach you the basics of your chosen craft in person, there are plenty of free online videos that are almost as good. Spend an hour learning the basics at home and you should be good to go for practicing on your journey.
Work on your own projects
Do you dream of one day leaving the rat race and doing your own thing? Do you have a pet project you wish to pursue? If circumstances allow, why not use some of your commute to work out stuff you need to advance your own objectives? You might not be able to balance a laptop on your lap when tightly squeezed among people on the metro, but you can definitely make an appointment with yourself to use this time for contemplation, note-taking, etc.
Using your commute to relax may appear less productive than the rest of these suggestions, but there’s a lot to be said for chilling out. Arriving at work relaxed and leaving your day behind when you leave the office are important for making the rest of your day or evening more productive. You can use your commute to listen to guided relaxation or meditation tapes or choose relaxing music to counteract any stresses you may encounter along the way. Learning to create your own island of calm in the middle of a busy commute is a brilliant way of taking control of your own emotions and will help you deal with a stressful work environment, too.
If you’d like to use your time to relax, avoid reading newspapers and non-fiction books and opt for fiction instead. Both novels and short stories can give you a much needed escape during your commute, so that you can somewhat detach from your journey. If you’d rather read non-fiction, you can choose a self-help book that deals with relaxation or achieving calmness, so you could be picking up this skill instead of concentrating too hard on a subject that interests you. Of course, if you’d rather be productive than work on relaxation, non-fiction books are your best option.