6 ways to be productive during long hours of commute


In a world where time is luxury, losing hours on commute can be quite painful. It affects both the body and the mind. Be it long distances or slow moving traffic, stress is inevitable when you have a destination to get to. Mental inactivity draws out time, making commute seem longer than it already is, and physical inactivity makes one’s body stiff and rigid.

No matter how much we want it, getting time off the road will remain a dream until the invention of teleportation. Since that won’t happen anywhere in the near future, it’s time to accept, adapt and use our time better. Here are some ways in which you can be productive in those otherwise wasted, but precious, minutes.

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Convert commute time to work-out time

This is especially applicable to those who ride or drive to work. Why not cycle to work? A Harvard study suggests that one can lose over 240 calories from just 30 minutes of cycling. Besides weight changes, you will see improved stamina, reduced stress and an overall healthy body and mind. You’re missing out on a lot by letting those engines take control.

If public transport is a more practical option for you, get off a few stops prior to your destination. You can shake off the stress and stiffness from just 15 minutes of speed walking.

Work your mind

Whether you are an Olympian reader who wants to get back on track or just someone wanting to give reading a chance, here’s the time for it. If not from a book, one could always read out of phones, tablets and kindles. Not only does reading transport you – the next best thing to actual teleportation – it has a way of changing your perception of time, making it enjoyable even. You might just wish for longer hours on the road. You could also, at the very least, catch up on local and global news.

If reading while moving doesn’t work for you, you have abundant audio books or podcasts at your disposal. One can also use commute time to enrol in online courses and watch educational videos. Another great way to indulge that mind is to learn a new language. Science has shown that multilingual people have better attention and steady concentration. There’s a lot you can do with that time if you’re willing to learn.

Improve your relationships

We have all put off calling that old friend or a distant relative under the pretext of lack of time. Commute gives you more time than you asked for. So why not use it to get back in touch with people that matter? You could also call a not-so-old friend or a not-so-distant relative, someone whom you talk to regularly. This way you won’t need to make time for personal relationships and will be able to give them all the attention they deserve.


Getting to know yourself, your deeds and your intentions is the surest way of staying mentally healthy. Busy lifestyles that leave no room for this make it all more important to introspect. Commute gives you a few hours of undisturbed introspection time where you could delve into your thoughts. Although we do this naturally when we daydream, doing so consciously will fetch you better results.

Recent research has shown that when we let our minds wander we activate a neural pathway called the Default Mode Network (DMN). This network uses our experiential memories to form a self-image which we then connect to our past and future. In other words, we are constantly using this network to make sense of our lives – past, present and future. Tap into this system and know yourself better. Use commute time to jot down some turbulent thoughts.

Back to the future

You could simply plan for the day or the evening ahead when you’re on the road. This involves setting small goals for either work or chores at home.You could also use the time to visualise and thereby prepare for difficult conversations or presentations. Planning for the future could also be as elaborate as planning vacations or your life goals. This gives you a sense of control where a tiring commute would leave you with a sense of helplessness.

Be an observer

If you’re a writer or an artist, there’s no better time and place to find your inspiration. If there’s an advantage to slow moving commute, it is this – it slows the world down for you to observe.Sharpen your eyes and perk your ears up (eavesdropping is forgiven) because you will find fascinating personalities and stimulating situations that will be too good to forego.You could also step outside the role of an observer and actually interact with someone.

There’s always a lot that one can do if they stop trying to find time and make it instead.


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