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Forget scrolling through social media, here are 4 ways to make your commute productive

Commuting, for a lot of people, is often treated as boring and a total waste of time and seconds slip into the void as we wait, tired-eyed for our turn to get to where we need to be.

We’ve all been there, where our journey to and from work can often induce stress rather than relaxation and Zen. You tell colleagues or boss your commute is 30 minutes each way, but every single day there’s some sort of delay. You’re stuck at a red light or there’s an accident due to inclement weather that causes a three-hour stand-still traffic backup (hours lost from an already jam-packed day at work).

Life hackers and productivity gurus will often tell you that every minute that ticks by that you spend while commuting is wasted by scrolling through social media, eavesdropping on your neighbour’s frustration, using your fellow commuters as pillows (awkward), moving a new level on Candy Crush -for non-drivers- and petty frustrations at the first sign of brake lights in the distance.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Luckily, here are a number of ways to make the most of your commute, to jump on the day, learn something new and boost your general well-being.

1. Plan ahead and set daily goals.

If you’re not driving to work, take advantage of your commute time to clear your head and think about what you need to do for the day. With your thoughts and ideas sorted, create a to-do list and jot down top priorities for the day and the items that have been lingering on your to-do list. Figure out a plan of action as to how you are going to get them done and set targets to ensure you’ll stay focused during the day. This will help you prepare for the day, make you less flustered when you arrive at work and it ensures you’re using your time efficiently.

2. Learn a new language

Mastering a new language is a valuable skill in the workplace and helpful if you’re a travel junkie (which most of us seem to be these days) and the commute is the perfect time to get you started. Consider downloading a language app (like Duolingo), listening to podcasts and YouTube videos and start learning. It may not seem like that much at first glance, but remember time is valuable only when you add value to it.

3. Listen to podcasts and Educational Audiobooks

If the thought of reading makes you feel queasy because you’re too tired or your commute consists of driving, you can listen to a podcast or audiobook instead. It’s an ideal start to a day when you dive deeper into subjects/topics that were holding you back from reaching your full potential. Podcasts can be a convenient and entertaining way to stay up-to-date with the latest news, business and you could also squeeze some more reading time into your life with a light-hearted audiobook. With the breadth of topics out there, there’s sure to be a podcast for you, no matter what niche or mood.

4. Work on a project you are passionate about

The bus/matatu may not seem like a calm oasis, but in reality, it is completely free of interruptions from rogue meetings and conversations, constant phone-calls, many family obligations and general life admin. Whether you’ve always wanted to write a short story or poem, start your memoir or you have a personal side project you want to work on- use your commute as a time to write, plan, organize or work on whatever side project you have on your plate and it can be a great way to decompress after work.

Whether you drive to work or take public transportation, you can incorporate some of the things mentioned above into your routine along with other tasks you have been meaning to tackle and hey- you might even start looking forward to your tips to and from the office.

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