Productivity hacks: make the most of your commute

Productivity hacks: make the most of your commute

A lot of articles on productivity focus on what happens in the office, but what about all that time you spend getting to and from work?

For a lot of people it’s dead time, whether driving, walking or rubbing shoulders with the masses on public transport.

Commuting is not necessarily the time to be churning out reports, but it’s a great opportunity to feed your brain with the latest thinking in your field. You need new ideas to get in if you want to get the best ideas out. Here are some suggestions on turning commuting dead time into feed-your-thinking time.


Clearly, it’s not possible to read whilst in command of a vehicle (and if you’re doing it now, we recommend that you put the screen down immediately)! However, thanks to the rise of the audiobook and the podcast, an abundance of hands-free, eyes-on-the-road brain food is at your fingertips.

Radio National’s business podcast, Best Practice, covers topics as diverse as gender equity, performance reviews and even the reasons why we work in the first place. The Harvard Business Review, TED, the BBC and Australia’s ABC all have several podcasts devoted to business. Industry-based career podcasts discuss topics such as psychology and civil engineering, and general careers advice is available from shows like Career Tools.


Once more, not recommended for drivers (or walkers), but if someone else has the wheel, you can check out TED talks on video. Browse by topic, language and duration to find the talk that fits your needs, and get some new approaches to business, technology, science and social justice. You might find new ideas for your business, or fresh approaches to running your office.


Unless you’re really efficient at using social media to follow trends in your industry, forget whiling away your public transport commute on Facebook and Twitter.

Instead, get some reading done – on your industry or on business thinking.

Apple devices have a handy function not only to bookmark a web article or blog post for later, but to add it to a reading list in a format that’s easier on the eyes – just tap on the image to the left of the address field to convert the web page to a document-style format.

Besides finding your own industry-related blogs to follow, you can read up on how to make the most of your business’s social media approach at Socially Sorted, work safety issues at the clearly named Safety At Work Blog, or Kat Read’s insights into strategy and analytics at Kat’s Insights.

There are plenty of autobiographies and books on careers and business that are available as audiobooks as well.


Do you miss reading? Do you have a secret passion for history that has nothing to do with your job? Do you just like to listen to Stephen Fry reading Harry Potter at you for hours? You don’t have to be hyper-efficient every minute of the day. Commuting can offer a little down-time to nourish your brain with non-work input.

If you find yourself so busy you don’t have time for more pleasurable pursuits, you could be putting strain on your body and mind. That’s not good for your daily efficiency (or your health).

On public transport, get into that juicy murder mystery or the latest bestseller you never find time to read. Some digital book readers can read the text aloud if you prefer someone to read to you.

You can listen to audiobooks, dramatisations and podcasts however you commute. Get on board with the latest true crime exposés in Making a Murderer or get a feminist perspective on fantasy and science fiction with Galactic Suburbia. Radio serials have also made a comeback with shows like Welcome to Night Vale.

Reanimated Dead Time

There are so many ways to breathe life into that commuting dead time: you can expand your knowledge, get fresh ideas for your office or your career, or give your mind a break with non-work input.

Share your thinking

What are the best business, career and even just-for-fun podcasts and blogs? Share your ideas with us in the comments.


Image: Tram by Wimkantona (CC 0.1.0)