Your daily commute. The words alone are enough to give you feelings of dread and stress – and understandably so, regardless of your means of transport. But have you ever thought about how many hours per week you spend commuting to and from work or, perhaps more importantly, how you utilise these precious hours?

For the 67% who travel by car, are the joys of sitting in traffic with a repetitive radio playlist while getting frustrated at fellow road users, all the while knowing that the stand-still is guzzling your petrol. For those unfortunate enough to have to deal with the delights of public transport, there’s the anxiety of hoping that your connect arrives at its scheduled time followed by a cramped and stuffy journey – not to mention the fact that there’s a good chance you’ll be standing for forty minutes whilst trying to retain balance, composure and, if you’re lucky, limited personal space.

I myself am part of the 17% that take public transport to work, and every day I can’t help but notice that the vast majority of us are glued to our devices. I like to think that we’re absorbing meaningful information when we’re staring down at our screens, but the reality is that we’re probably replying to pending emails or mindlessly scrolling through social media. Considering that, on average, we spend anywhere between 1-3 hours commuting to and from work, those invaluable hours quickly rack up.

Time is our most precious commodity, now more than ever — in fact, it’s almost a cliché. But what if we could regain some daily fulfilment and enrichment out of our laborious commute?

If you travel by car, there is probably no better professional to take advice from than our own Director, Phil Jepson. Whilst driving to work, he often listens to podcasts about developing your business and thinking in a more productive way. A quick Google search and a plethora of business podcasts will flood your browser. If this doesn’t get your gears turning (no pun intended) then why not try learning a new language ready for your summer holidays? As taxing as this sounds, language audio-tutors work on an almost subconscious level, so that you learn a new language without fully realising that you have. At the very least you could compile a playlist of some upbeat jazz tunes to get yourself motivated for the working day ahead (Jazz Vibes and Jazz-Hop on Spotify are my personal favourites).

And calling all fellow public transport users: you just gained several weekly hours! Because you don’t need to divert your attention to the road, you can optimise this time even further. For this, I give you a more exhaustive list:

  • On the way to work, plan your day ahead – especially on Monday mornings, as it helps get your head back into work-mode.
  • On the way home from work, evaluate the day that you’ve just had. How productive were you? Did you complete all the tasks that were required of you? Did you learn anything new that you should probably retain for the future? Could you have improved on anything that you did, and if so, how do you plan to implement improvements?
  • Catch up on your daily admin and emails – although experts advise that you don’t dedicate your entire commute to this, as it can lead to increased levels of stress and a lack of a work-life balance.
  • Catch up on a few more pages of a book that you read for leisure to help you unwind, or listen to an audiobook/podcast if you’ve already been staring at a computer for eight hours.
  • You could even do your online grocery shop and free up some time to spend with family.

Your commute doesn’t have to be a dreaded part of your day; it can be as productive or as relaxing as you want it to be. By making the most of out of your commute, you could gain an extra half a day every week that would otherwise be wasted.

So I ask again: how do you spend those invaluable hours?