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Career, Life

How to Be Productive While Commuting by Train

If you live in a metro area, chances are that you spend a portion of your day commuting.

Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, WNYC has determined that the average travel time to work in the United States is 25.4 minutes. Now, I’m sure you’re saying that’s not too bad. Because it’s not. However, if you’re living in a larger metropolitan area, it’s likely that your average commute time will be much longer.

A benefit of living in a metro area is that although you may have a long commute, you may not have to be driving the entire way. If you live in a city with a good public transportation system, you may have the luxury of being able to take the train to work. While the train may not be the most ideal place to get things done, it holds a lot of potential, especially when you know how to be productive while commuting.

5 Tips on How to Be Productive While Commuting by Train

Read a book

Person Reading on their Commute

Look around your subway car and you’ll clearly see that reading is THE thing to do while commuting. No matter how cramped the train is, it’s likely that you’ll be able to pull out a book or your Kindle and read, even with countless people breathing down your neck.

Compact, easy to pick up and put down and relaxing: reading is the perfect commuting activity. Whether you fancy a romance novel or you want to keep abreast of the latest books in your profession,you’ll be able to easily pass the time.

Catch up on the news

Person reading newspaper on commute

Let’s be honest. There is a lot going on these days and it’s getting harder by the day to keep up with it all. Your commute can be an opportune time to catch up on the latest events. Like reading a book, you can choose to read the news digitally or stick to the good old analog version: the newspaper. Many Metro areas have tiny newspapers available to read in the morning. While they aren’t the Wall Street Journal, they can help you keep a pulse on what’s going on in the world. Plus they’re free!

Write it out

Person writing during their commute

Whether you are brainstorming, creating SMART goals or writing your to-do list, the train can be the perfect time to put your thoughts to paper. Last summer, I spent my commute sketching and brainstorming for Centz, the mobile app design that won me the grand prize in the MyMoneyAppUp Challenge. I found that the concentrated 15 minutes of brainstorming and sketching during each ride really helped me solidify my ideas.

You too can take advantage of this time and be productive. Write a list. Write a book. Create goals. Brainstorm a new business ideas. Whatever you do, make sure you have paper and a pen handy!

Listen to podcasts or audio books

Person Listening to Music or Podcast

Earbuds have become ubiquitous. You’ll see countless people listening to music, audio books or podcasts on the train. By listening in on a podcast or audio book that you downloaded before venturing underground, you can sit and absorb all of the glorious information they contain. Hey, if you’re good at multi-tasking, you could even work on your to-do list while you’re at it!

Don’t do anything

Person Thinking During Their Commute

We all know that the first rule of Fight Club is that you do not talk about Fight Club. Well, sometimes, the first rule of how to be productive while commuting is to not be productive while commuting. At times, the best way to be productive is to not do anything at all. By saving your energy for later or decompressing after a long day, you’re ensuring that later or tomorrow you’ll be on the top of your game.

After all, where else can you get away from almost all of the distractions of modern life? There’s no better place for being out of contact from the world than the train. You’ll emerge above ground refreshed and ready for whatever comes your way.

How do you work productivity into your commute? What’s your favorite way to pass the time on the train?


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