How to Take Advantage of Your Commute on Public Transportation


By Staff Writer Published on May 3, 2018

Whether it’s to work or to school, commuting has become pretty commonplace today. It’s easy to think of a long commute as a gigantic waste of time, time that could be spent sleeping in or eating a healthy breakfast. But it doesn’t matter if it’s 20 minutes on a bus or 45 minutes on a train, how you spend your commute can affect the rest of your day.

Thankfully, there are several things you can do to spend that time wisely, and lots of apps to help you do them. So instead of scrolling mindlessly through social media for half an hour, here are six easy ways to make your commute more productive, and maybe even more enjoyable.

1. Organize your inbox.

It’s something you always mean to stay on top of, but somehow it tends to get away from you. But arriving at the office with a freshly cleaned inbox makes you feel like you’re already on top of your day, and it’s easy to do while you’re sitting on the train. If you’re driving, there are apps to read your emails out loud for you, such as the free app ASAM. This app even gives you the option to dictate a reply.

2. Make a to-do list.

Organizing your day first thing in the morning is a great feeling. So spend some time thinking about the things you want or need to get done that day. There are a number of apps that can help you with this, such as Wunderlist and Evernote. They allow you to prioritize tasks, categorize them, set reminders and due dates, sync between mobile devices and computers, and even share lists with others. If you are driving, there are apps that allow you to dictate your to-do list, such as Dragon Dictation.

3. Learn a language.

You probably remember a bit of Spanish or French from high school or college, but chances are you haven’t practiced at all since you graduated. Learning a new language is a goal for many people, and for good reason. Challenging your brain with puzzles or a new language is a great way to keep you sharp and thinking quickly. And depending on the language you pick, it may just come in handy one day. Duolingo is an excellent free app that really nails the fun aspect. The lessons are short and very visual, and Duolingo has mastered the art of gamification—completing lessons gains you points and increases your rank, with scoreboards to show how you compare to other users in the world.

4. Read a book.

Whether it’s an ebook or an actual book, that daily commute is a great time to get back into the habit of reading for leisure. And with the ubiquitousness of e-readers, finding a book to read has never been easier or faster. These days libraries have online databases where you can check out and download an ebook for a specified length of time, or you can pay to join a service like Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited, where you pay a fee each month and gain access to their huge ebook database.

5. Catch up on articles you’ve saved.

We all do it—we stumble across an article that sounds interesting but don’t have time to read it at that moment. So we tuck the link away into a folder to read later, but then we never actually click on that folder to go back to them. So make it a goal to catch up on your saved articles while you commute! With an app like Pocket, you can save articles, videos, and just about any other type of content into one place to access easily later. It works with your browser and a whole horde of other apps such as Twitter and Facebook.

6. Listen to a podcast.

If you tend to get motion sickness, or you just don’t want to spend more time staring at a screen than you have to, then podcasts or audiobooks are a great option. There are so many fascinating, educational, or just plain entertaining podcasts out there—the options really are endless. If audiobooks are more your thing, most public libraries have an online component that allows you to “check out” audiobooks just like regular library books. Or you can join Audible, a vast online database of audiobooks.

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