6 Best Ways to Stay Productive on Commutes

Almost everyone I know commutes every day be it for school, work, or whatever purpose. Of course, if you have a car, you're exempted but let's talk about the majority. Everybody gets on idle mode during commutes. What people don't know is they're throwing away precious time while on transit. I say throwing because people practically don't do anything at this time. Either they recharge or think, that's totally fine. However, for the most part, people stare at the windows doing nothing. Personally, I find being idle as a sin, and doing so will make me regret why I'm doing nothing.


I'm residing here in the Philippines and Metro Manila has one of the worst traffics in Asia. Even a distance of 5km could take an hour. Idleness causes loss of productivity and it's estimated to cost $56M (PHP3B) per month. Imagine if that money could've gone to fund projects and programs to support the less fortunate. Traffic is inevitable in Metro Manila people need to learn how to maximize their time especially on times like these.


Let's give the benefit of the doubt. Because of this, I tend to discover ways to stay productive. This is the reason why I love commuting. Despite being hands-free on wheels, you get to do other things on the passenger seat. Not to mention, there's less carbon footprint and ride-sharing lessens the traffic. I've tried dozens of ways from books, podcasts, and articles so I know which works and which doesn't. Allow me to share what I've learned. These methods will transform the way you think of commute for good in which you'll start loving the traffic.

Huge credits to Tim Ferris for showing the best ways of productivity!

Note: Before I start, let me clarify that productivity is defined as an act of doing something (not subconsciously like breathing lolz). This may or may not be part of being progressive in a sense that it always has to do with learning (but I believe any content you consume involves learning even entertainment). You may sleep and call it productive. What I'm about to show relates to your personal growth or if not, progression on hobbies.


1. Read books/ebooks

This is my favorite part of my commute. I always bring a book with me. If not, I buy ebooks from Kindle. I read whenever I wait in the queue and during the trip. I try to accomplish one book per week as part of my personal goals. Recently, I just launched my book on Kindle and with that, I got to explore the Kindle space. Kindle offers so many e-books that I got tempted to buy some of my wait-listed books. The best part? They are way cheaper! At first, I am not a fan of e-books because it's digital and psychology says that reading a physical book has a better cognitive impact. However, I proved it to be wrong because I normally check my phone for stuff. I know it's not healthy but I converted it into something positive by making the action to learning.


My phone is huge (Note 8 - not an ad) so it gives the best experience for reading. What I like about it is it seems to give the best features for reading because you can highlight and take down notes if something caught your attention. Since then, I've accomplished a lot of ebooks that it feels like I've learned a lot in just a short span of time.

Everyone has their own preference so it's up to you if you'd pick a book or an ebook. Either way, it's suited for learning!


2. Listen to Podcasts

I love listening to podcasts. Listening to podcasts has increased its popularity and with the help of smartphones, anyone can start looking up their favorite topics and turn up the volume. You could learn from all the notable professionals out there and you could choose from players such as Spotify, Outcast, Pocket Cast, and iTunes Podcast.

My favorite shows are Tim Ferris Show, Freakonomics, and Joe Harbinger Show.


3. Playing games

Who says playing games ain't productive? Everyone needs to de-stress once in a while so playing games can be a good way to release those nerves. I don't play many games before unlike my teenage days but thanks to the power of smartphones, it's portable to play games. I am very picky in terms of what I play and I normally love games that became popular from the past (GTA, FF series, etc). I haven't played some popular games back then so I feel like it's time to catch up with what I've left behind. Fortunately, Play Store/App Store has ported popular games into mobile devices so there's a reason to get into the game.

GTA San Andreas. I'm catching up!


I use a portable Bluetooth controller. It feels like bringing a Nintendo switch but more compact. I love the experience better with a controller as it becomes easy to manipulate.


4. Watch Videos

This is the most popular method of commute productivity. You will see people catching up with their favorite series on transit. I believe this is still worth mentioning so you could aware of the option. There is a wide variety of videos to watch from. YouTube, Netflix, and Udemy to name a few.




5. Tick off emails/notifs/phone calls

People say it's bad to check emails and notifs during work or at least have 15 mins from 8 hours to do so. Commutes are the best times to check those mails so that you don't occupy too much time on unnecessary messages. If you need phone calls, might as well include it. Whenever I listen to a podcast, I include in my time to multi-task on checking unread messages. Try to reduce clutters as much as possible before starting your work.

6. Read the Current Headlines

There's no reason to be left behind on the current news. Whenever you check your social media, there are some of your friends sharing about what happened today. Read and educate yourselves. Don't be ignorant of current affairs.


You'll notice I did not include checking of social media apps (FB, Twitter, etc). It's because we impulsively check on it every 2 hours and it's an unspoken rule to include them in our habits. It's not worth mentioning since social media for me, is counter-productive due to the endless scrolling of news feed.

So far, I'm enjoying these things and it has helped me become less dull on downtimes. As much as I wanted to sleep, I tend to overcome drowsiness to the excitement of progress. What do you think are your best ways of productivity? Let me know on the comments!

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