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7 Productive Things You Can Do During Your Commute

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We spend a lot of time commuting.

Editor’s note: Even more when our trains break down.

In Singapore, 60% of our working population depends on public transport, and the median commute time is 30 to 45 minutes. That’s a whopping 7.5 hours that we spend on the move each week and 390 hours (16 days) per year*.

Instead of aimlessly scrolling through social media, here are some suggestions on productive things that you can do during your commute:

* If we count a return journey, and base it on a 5-day work week.

Complete personal administrative tasks

With smartphones that are as powerful as ever today, we have quick and easy access to our emails and the Internet at our fingertips.

This makes your time on-the-go perfect for settling personal administrative tasks that you’ve been putting off:

  • making a dinner reservation on the restaurant’s online reservation form or a reservation booking platform like Chope
  • drafting an email to customer service enquiries
  • setting up a doctor’s appointment on their online e-appointment systems
  • finishing up administrative tasks for volunteer groups you are actively involved in

I find it helpful to keep a running note on my phone to remind me of the personal errands I need to do, and working on what I can act when I am on the move.

Learn a new skill

Expand your vocabulary, learn a new language, or even coding, when you are commuting.

You can easily download apps to pick up new languages, and learn to code, or store learning materials on your phone. I find that learning that involve memory work or mental calculations are the best since you don’t need a pen and paper to work out a solution.

If you don’t feel like studying, you can play ‘games’ like Elevate, Lumosity, and Peak to keep your mind sharp. These apps aim to improve your cognitive functions, including your memory, processing speed, and problem solving skills, and help maintain your psychological well-being.

Turn your time to cash

You can turn your time on commute into money.

Online surveys, offered through portals like Mysurvey will give you cash vouchers or money for completing their surveys. Other ways include coming up with snazzy descriptions of items you would like to sell online on C2C platforms like Carousell, and leaving reviews for online purchases on platforms like Qoo10 which give you points that you can redeem for discounts.

Read the news, or build up knowledge on a topic

It pays to be a more well-read person – it is great for making conversation, networking, and helps you project yourself as a more intellectual individual.

News apps, like News App or Flipboard, or email news round-ups from newspapers like The New York Times and The Straits Times, are great for aggregating the day’s worth of news highlights.

Articles from news publications like The Economist and Time Magazine, and business-centric pieces from publications like Harvard Business Review and think tanks like McKinsey Global Institute are also great for building depth on your knowledge of key news and business issues.

Apart from the news, you can also read e-books, or listen to an audiobook on topics that interest you. Be sure to also check out the wide selection of e-books that you can borrow for free from the National Library Board.

Brainstorming new ideas

J.K. Rowling came up with the idea of Harry Potter while she was stuck on the train for 4 hours – and this turned into a best-selling book that grew into a $25 billion franchise, and changed her life forever.

Studies have shown that flashes of insight tend to come when the brain is relaxed. This makes your time on commute a great time for a new idea to pop into your head. If you don’t feel like doing anything that generates immediate concrete output, let your mind wander, but be sure to record down any new thoughts or ideas you have. It could be just the beginnings of the next earth-shattering idea.

Check up on a friend or talk to a stranger

We lead busy lives, but that does not mean that we should neglect our personal relationships. Why not use the time on your commute to send an encouraging message to a close friend who is struggling, or drop a message to an old friend you haven’t spoken to in a while? This could make someone’s day.

Alternatively, why not connect with the world around you instead of getting sucked up in your own little world on the train?

If appropriate, try striking up a conversation with a stranger sitting next to you.  There is a lot you can learn from a discussion with someone new, and you never know if that person could be a valuable contact for you in the future.

Take time to reflect

In midst of all the busyness, we sometimes forget to take the time to reflect on our lives.

You could take the time during your commute to step out of the rat race and do some serious reflection – where are you now, and what do you want out of life? If you’re grappling with any particular issue, you can also read self-help articles or books, or even inspirational quotes, to get some guidance.

Seedly Contributor: Charlene Ng

Charlene is a young professional working in Singapore and enjoys writing in her free time.

She hopes to share her experiences and lessons learnt as she navigates adult life to help others become more financially savvy.

Editor’s note: The above is a really insightful article by Charlene who is a part of our Seedly community. For readers who are interested in the lifestyle aspect of personal finance, check out Seedly’s content on Lifestyle!

Localised content on lifestyle hacks and personal finance tips, takes a swipe at making content “very Singaporean” over at Seedly's Instagram Account.

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