The morning and evening commute between home and work can take up a sizable chunk of a person’s day. Depending on the location of the workplace, this time can go up to 3 hours per day. For example, a person living in the suburbs and working downtown might encounter bumper to bumper traffic jams or slow conditions such as during winter snowstorms. For those that rely on public transport, this commuting time can be even worse as they have to wait for the bus and are beholden to long delays or route cancellations. This is the case not only for workers, but for many students who live far from their school and travel miles for a morning class. When making the calculation over a 5 work day period, this can spell between 4 hours up to over 15 hours per week. Over the month, 6 hours to around 60 hours (with those on longer commutes spending approximately two and a half days just in transit). 

Rather than just let thoughts wander or stare into the commuter abyss, it is advisable to use this time productively. Commuting can also become a health and professional issue as countless studies have indicated that the longer the time in transit the greater the chances of depression, the less job satisfaction, the worse the quality of sleep (since workers wake earlier to avoid traffic and arrive to work on time), and greater stress overall. Therefore, whether driving or on public transport, there are many activities that can not only improve the commute but be extremely beneficial to your growth professionally or otherwise. A happier worker is a better worker. 

The most popular activity is listening to music, whether on the car’s stereo or through headphones. It is a great idea to understand your mood in the morning before work and the evening after you clock out. Create a song playlist based on these times. For instance, you may not be a morning person and need energized songs to wake you up and get motivated – like a shot of strong coffee. In the evening on the ride home, more mellow and relaxing music helps calm the nerves, especially after a busy or stressful day. Each person is different, so figure out what type of songs work for you. 

In this same auditory vein, staying informed is extremely beneficial. Many choose to listen to audiobooks or podcasts. This helps stimulate the mind, particularly when sleepy in the morning, and also has the advantage of learning something new. When considering that travel times can go up to 60 hours per month or over 600 hours a work year, there is no telling what skills you can learn. The audiobooks/podcasts can range anywhere from fiction novels/nonfiction, politics, philosophy, language learning, comedy (as laughter is a great mood booster), and guided meditation exercises. 

Regarding meditation, why not use the commute to focus on your thoughts and how to relieve stress? Meditation is terrific for feeling more in tune with yourself and other and less reactionary to any stress inducing events. This is very important when you are heading into a workplace environment. Take the time to concentrate on your body, your breathing, and the sort of things that give you stress. Even if you sneak in a 15 minute meditation session during the commute, this is extremely beneficial. When returning from work, you could also calmly review the day with what went well and what did not while making mental notes on how to improve. Self-reflection in this way is invaluable for understanding yourself and becoming better.

For those on public transport, there are also subtle physical exercises that can be done to strengthen muscles and health. For example, a set of leg lifts or certain stretches. 

Staying informed for those on public transport can also involve bringing reading material, such as a newspaper, magazine, or book. If you want to get in gear for work, you could carry a notepad to record thoughts or brainstorm idea. Even for drivers, there are programs like Google Voice or Alexa that can record your voice and even write emails. 

As virtually everyone owns a smartphone, playing online games or using productive apps is an amazing way to productively pass the commute time – particularly for those on public transport. There are many mind or strategy games available to improve your intellect as well as enjoyable games such as Angry Birds that help reduce stress. Another example is slot games from online casino sites such as Latecasino.com. These online slots are fun, easy to pick up, and immersive with many different themes. Slots such as NetEnt’s ‘Beach’ or Yggdrasil’s ‘Golden Fishtank’ are gorgeous visually and also incredibly meditative to help you relax on the commute. There is generally a straightforward 5 reels, about 3 rows, and a set number of payways. What is more, all these slots are mobile friendly to play for chances to win real money anywhere and at any time. For instance, if it is the middle of freezing winter on a long commute and all you can think about is your holiday vacation getaway to Sunny Mexico, it is a great way to get excited and hang on for the next couple weeks of work by playing the fiesta themed ‘Chilli Heat’ by Pragmatic Play. Online games offer commuters an amazing way to escape the doldrums of schlepping to a stressful job or a class. 

Commuting should not be seen as a horrible necessity, but as an opportunity for improving who you are and learning many exciting things. This is a period where there is an excuse to take time for yourself. It is a moment where no boss is instructing you and your family or social commitments are somewhat on hold. In a year’s time, you could be speaking a new language or become knowledgeable about the Greek myths or even be adding to the travel fund with a jackpot win on an online slot game. The possibilities are endless when the commuter is willing to see getting stuck in traffic or delayed on the bus as a chance for betterment.