6 More Productive Ways To Spend Your Daily Commute Than Candy Crush

…or Flappy Bird.


Image by @hindmarsh

For most Australians, if you have a job it means you spend a fair bit of time commuting to work.

According to Payscale Australia Research, the average time spent travelling to and from work on a daily basis across our capital cities is whopping 59.8 minutes per day.

That’s 299 minutes per week.

That’s 1300 minutes per month.

That’s 15600 minutes per year, or, the equivalent of 32.5 working days.

Thirty-two-and-a-half working days!

(If you live in Sydney, that figure blows out to 71.5 minutes per day, or 38.8 working days per year.)

So, given that we spend so much of our waking life on trains/buses/trams/ferries, the list of things we could be doing to enrich our lives in that time is virtually endless. We’ve compiled a list of our 6 favourites.

1. Learn a language

Learning language trains your brain, keeping your mind sharp and improving your ability to think critically. Why wouldn’t you want that? The ubiquity of smart phones is a blessing, and there are dozens of ways to learn a language. Our favourite is Duolingo, a completely free app/website, which has been taking the world by storm. It employs scientifically-proven methods for you to learn French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese or German (soon to also include Turkish, Russian, Romanian, Hungarian, Polish and Dutch) all from the comfort of your phone or laptop – and all along it feels like you’re playing a game. Studies have shown that 34 hours of playing Duolingo is the equivalent of a semester of university study. And, again, it is completely free.

2. Work

An increasing number of workplaces are encouraging flexible work arrangements for staff. Depending on the responsibilities of your role, you may be able to negotiate shorter work hours (or, better pay) if you are able to complete some tasks from your laptop while travelling on public transport. There is no harm in speaking with your boss and asking the question.

3. Enjoy a book

An entire world of literature is at your fingertips thanks to smart phones – gone are the days of lugging around heavy hardbacks. Millions of books, publications and periodicals are available to download and read via iTunes or the Google Play store. Better still, hundreds of thousands of them are completely free (largely comprised of literary classics which are out of copyright). Check out Project Gutenberg, which is a growing digitised collection of books.

4. Catch up on world events

Get into the habit of checking your favourite newspaper (print or online) while on your way to work, rather than when you’re at work. You can very easily scan through the headlines on your preferred mobile device, or most online newspapers are now posting bite-sized summaries of the day’s biggest stories in an easy-to-digest format helping you stay in the know.

5. Take a Short Course

If you’re spending up to 5 hours a week just sitting around, why not use that time to broaden your horizons through free online study courtesy of highly regarded universities? Services like iTunes U and Coursera offer short courses in pretty much anything you can think of – from computer programming to song writing to economics to international law. Some of these courses also provide recognised certification at the end of them.

6. Keep a diary/journal

“Write a page everyday and after 356 days you’ve got yourself a novel.” Keeping a diary is not only therapeutic, but also a great way of documenting all those fantastic but fleeting ideas you have in moments of inspiration but forget the second you get to your desk.

What else do you like to do to pass the time during your daily commute? Email us at and we will compile a list of our readers’ favourites to feature here.

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