Many globally successful companies originally started out as side projects. By seizing control of the free time on your commute, what could you achieve?
You could be doing more than staring out of a window or browsing social media on your commute. According to recent research by ethical car recycling company Scrap Car Network, the average British commuter spends 58 minutes going to and from work, and 27% of us use this commuting time for self-education. Choosing to become one of them means you have plenty of time to hit some pretty impressive achievements in just 12 months – all without cutting into your workday or personal time. For example, you could…
1. Learn a new language
Learning a new language is a highly popular use of spare commuting time here in the UK. European languages like French, German and Spanish are amongst the most popular – understandable, since they’re all spoken by multiple countries worldwide. Language apps are frequently used by many of those who take the train or bus to work, while audio CDs and educational podcasts are the preferred options for drivers. As per Scrap Car Network’s research, an hour a day is more than enough time to listen to the entire Duolingo Spanish podcast series, taking up just 11 days of commuting time.
2. Study for an undergraduate degree
Rail commuters, especially tend to have a lot of time on their hands, with the Trade Unions Congress estimates that the average rail commute is a round-trip of two hours, eleven minutes. That’s plenty of time to read a serious amount of books – and they don’t have to be fiction, either. With that amount of time, an average rail commuter could get through the entire undergraduate reading list for a Philosophy, Politics and Economics degree at the University of Oxford, in just 167 hours (about 86 days).
3. Get your life organised
It may not be the most exciting notion, but that doesn’t make it the least important. Your commuting time is the perfect opportunity to sort out your personal or work emails, organise your finances, or deal with any niggling little tasks that you might not have had time to spare for during the evening. Even digital tidying is scientifically proven to reduce underlying anxiety, as it helps you to feel more in control of your time and environment – which is why the fabled Inbox Zero is often portrayed as an achievable, desirable goal. You can even use it to get a head-start on your working day, so you’ve freed up productive time before you’ve even set foot in the office.
Meditation is a deceptively hard practice to master. It’s not as simple as closing your eyes and becoming instantly calm. It actually takes a lot of time and practice before you can start to properly feel the benefits. The otherwise dead time of your commute is a perfect opportunity to get some practice in, and apps like Headspace can help, too.
5. Learn how to code
In today’s increasingly digitised world, IT proficiency is a more valuable and versatile skill than ever before. There are all sorts of ways to learn, from good old-fashioned books, to audio podcasts, to learning-based apps. Or, you could opt for the Python essential training course on LinkedIn, which only takes four hours and 45 minutes to complete. That’s less than a week of your commute!
6. Write a book
Seriously. There are 233 working days in a UK year (261, minus 28 for statutory holidays. If you commit to writing just 350 words each day – for most rail commuters, that’s an hour each way to write 175 words – then in the course of just one year, you’ll have written over 80,000 words. That’s a full-length novel manuscript. There’s still editing and negotiating with publishers to contend with, but don’t forget how many novels never get further than an idea.
7. Become a qualified first aider
First aid is another exceptionally invaluable skill which you’ll never regret learning, and you can earn your own qualification with the Red Cross first aid course in just 2 hours and 10 minutes, or three day average commuting time to complete.
8. Learn an instrument
We’re not proposing you take your guitar onto the train with you; it might not make you many friends amongst fellow passengers! Musical theory, though, is a key part of learning if you want to properly master any instrument, and commuting time is a perfect way to supplement your physical practice. Often, much of the knowledge is even transferable, if you ever want to learn another.
9. Teach yourself to draw
Drawing is another versatile skill; not only can you better express yourself artistically, but you might even find it comes in handy at work, for effectively conveying creative ideas or business plans. There’s no shortage of books on tips and tricks to start drawing effectively, and you’ve got plenty of time to try, fail and improve as you while away the time to work.
10. Learn a work-related skill and pave the way to promotion
Depending on your industry, there could be any number of relevant skills or courses you may want to consider learning. It may be just the thing you need to get that promotion, or the pay-rise you’ve been after. Even just some background reading on your industry and current news and events might present a valuable business opportunity, such as new sales leads or local events you can get involved in.
Impressing your boss with this knowledge is always a smart career move, while specialist skills (such as the coding we touched on above) can be extraordinarily helpful in leveraging a future job offer.
Don’t forget, some of the most globally successful companies originally started out as side projects, including Apple and Etsy. If you take control of the time you’ve got available, what could you achieve?