How Do You Use Your Commute Time Effectively? 7 Best Tips

Traveling to and from work can be a drag sometimes; however, it doesn’t have to be depending on your commute time. Whether you are an employee or someone who runs their business at an office, some of us need to commute. If your commute times are long, that’s the best time to do things that matter. How do you use your commute time? I’ll share some tips in this article on how to make the most of your commute.

What to do during your commute?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau (based on numbers from 2006), the average travel time was around 25 minutes. Also, the average one-way commute in 2019 bumped up to around 27.6 minutes.

For some individuals, their commute times end up being a lot longer (i.e. 1 hour or longer). The time spent commuting (when we can be doing other things) is what I consider “dead time”. While you’re traveling, you have open time in which to do things.

If you’re someone who has long commutes into the office, there are plenty of things that you can do during that time traveling. I will share seven things that you can do to make the most out of your commute.

  1. Journaling (Writing Out Your Thoughts)
  2. Listen To Audiobooks
  3. Make Your To-Do List Out Loud
  4. Practice Speeches And Presentations On The Go
  5. Watch Webinars Or Videos To Learn New Skills
  6. Prepare Notes Or Outlines For Projects
  7. Learn A New Language
  8. What NOT To Do During Your Commute

Journaling (Writing out your thoughts)

{Do if you are carpooling or taking public transportation}

If you’re in a rush to get out of the door, plan out your day ahead by journaling. It helps to write out what you need to get done on a given day, or simply plan ahead of time.

For example, I write out a priority list when it comes to writing out my daily activities. What are the most important things you need to do today? 

Even better, I like to narrow it down to just three things. If you can focus on one-three tasks per day, that’s still a win if you don’t get to other stuff you wanted to get through.

How do you use your commute time? Taking the time to journal while commuting can help you prepare for the day ahead.

Listen to audiobooks

This one is very common for those who regularly commute. If you’re not a reader, maybe listening to audio is better suited for you. 

There are a lot of people I know of who often say “I don’t have time to read ”. When in fact, they may be able to carve out some time for reading activities.

Even if it’s for 10-20 minutes a day, that’s still a good amount of time to read or listen to a book. Personally, I love listening to audiobooks.

When I commute, I’ll listen to a good audiobook while I go to work and then on my way back home. It’s a great way to utilize my time, especially if I’m not someone who regularly sits down and reads a book every day.

I have a subscription to Audible, where I have downloaded a couple of books to listen to. If you’re interested, consider checking out Audible and start a 30-day free trial today.

Make your to-do list out loud

{Do this activity if you’re driving}

If you drive to/from work, it can help when you can’t write things down at the moment. If your mobile phone is set up through your car (i.e. a Bluetooth connection), you can say all of the things out loud while driving.

I know someone who has something set up in his car, where he can say things out loud. When he does that, his to-do list is typed out inside the notes app on his phone. 

It helps him a lot to get lists set up, especially when he’s short on time. When you’re short on time or cannot sit down to write out a list, doing that while driving can help out a lot.

How do you use your commute time? Saying your to-do list out loud can help out while driving.

Practice speeches and presentations on the go

If you have a presentation one day (or giving a big speech), it doesn’t hurt to practice and review your notes. If you’re someone who gets nervous about public speaking, it can be another good way to prepare for big presentations.

If you’re driving, say your practice lines out loud (as weird as it may sound). If it’s something you can memorize while driving, it’ll help you prepare to speak better in front of others.

If you take public transit, read and review any notes or outlines you may have written out. It doesn’t hurt to look them over again, as it’ll help you feel more prepared prior to speaking.

Watch webinars or videos to learn new skills

Doing that can be a good use of your commute. If you’ve wanted to learn a new skill, utilize that time to develop yourself further. 

Or if you want to expand on a particular skill set, that’s another thing you can do as well. Whether that’s personal development, or something you have a passion for, watching those educational videos can be helpful.

If you happen to watch videos that can help you perform better in your profession, that’s a bonus as well. If it can help you do better at your current job, you can become more valuable at work.

How do you use your commute time? Educational videos can be a good way to spend time while traveling.

What I Did: Watching videos

I had one job in the past where my commutes were almost 90 minutes long (i.e. three hours a day). To fill out some of that time, I used it to watch videos through a platform I’m currently subscribed to. 

These classes were almost an hour-long, so I learned some new things while sharpening my skills. If I did not have these long commutes, I would have to find another time to watch them later.

Prepare notes or outlines for projects

If you take public transit, make sure to have a notebook on hand to prepare notes for a big project. Oftentimes, you can use your phone or tablet to do some research. 

One thing I did during my long commutes is I did research for some articles I’ve written on this website. I would prepare some outlines that help me write out the posts to be published.

I believed it helped out immensely while saving me a lot of time. If I had not done it on my commutes, I would have to wait until the evenings to get all that together. Some days, you may feel tired to do some of those activities at the end of the day.

Learn a new language

There’s nothing wrong with learning a second language. It can help you become more valuable in business, or even help you find a better job.

What is very common today is people who speak English and Spanish at a lot of office jobs. I know one place I worked where the receptionists spoke Spanish. So that helped when we had customers come, where their primary language would be Spanish.

So learning another language can open up plenty of opportunities for development. If you can do that during your commutes, it’s another way to utilize that dead time.

What NOT to do during your commute

Very quickly, I want to list some things I don’t recommend doing while commuting. Here are some things I consider to be unnecessary time-fillers:

How do you use your commute time? While traveling, watching random videos online is not the best use of time.
  • Watching/scrolling through random YouTube videos (i.e. cat videos)

It’s something that a lot of people will do during their spare time. Unless you’re watching educational materials, YouTube can end up being a big-time waster.

  • Scrolling on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok)

I’m no fan of social media these days- for good reasons. If you’re just scrolling and mindlessly going through posts or news feeds, that’s another time waster. 

  • Checking your email

A lot of people will check their email while commuting. I’m no fan of checking email first thing in the morning (or even doing it multiple times).

My recommendation is to schedule time (i.e. 1-2 times a day) to check email, and then move on to other things.

Final Words

If you commute to work daily, making use of your time is vital. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t make the most out of their commute time. 

If you have long commutes, I believe it’s best to do things that will help you be more valuable. If you don’t have sufficient time to do those activities, why not invest some time while commuting?

If you can be more time-proficient (while developing yourself as an individual), you’re already one step ahead of the game. You’d be amazed at how much you can get done during your long commutes.

Your Turn: What do you do during your commute time?

I would like to get your thoughts on this topic. If you commute regularly, how do you spend that time?

Which of the activities listed earlier do you like the best? Is there anything that you do differently while traveling?

Feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below. I look forward to reading your responses, and I’ll gladly respond promptly.

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Eric is a content writer and the site owner of He takes great pride in helping people manage their time and grow their businesses. Eric is a firm believer in time freedom, as he believes in taking ownership of time. 

“Time is your most important asset. It can be your best friend or worst enemy. How you use your time can shape the future you desire to have.” In his leisure time, Eric loves to write and read whenever possible. He enjoys going for long walks outdoors while doing in-home workout videos every week. You can follow Eric on LinkedIn.

Self Photo 2019: Here's a picture at a building in downtown Chicago.

2 thoughts on “How Do You Use Your Commute Time Effectively? 7 Best Tips”

  1. Having a long commute to the office can mean that you have time to be productive in doing things, that you might not otherwise have time for. With so many apps available these days, even if one is driving, with voice recognition one can talk and record your thoughts at the same time. 

    In one of my previous jobs, my boss used to give us recorded notes on things that had to be done. That meant he was using his time productively while commuting. 

    I started learning Italian during my commute to the office. By turning on the disk player, it was very easy to listen and learn while driving. So it is possible to be productive while commuting. 

    • Hi,

      For those who have long commutes, that’s definitely worth the time to do things that matter. As I mentioned earlier, that’s “dead time” in my opinion.

      It amazes me that some people don’t utilize their commute time well. Even if it’s listening to an audiobook (or learning a new language), it’s still an accomplishment.

      That’s interesting to know what your boss did, especially with voice recognition. That’s very effective when it comes to preparing for work.

      I’m glad you learned a new language during the commute time. Learning that type of skill can do you wonders- so why not take the time during your commute?

      Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts- they’re greatly appreciated.


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