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6 ways to turn your daily commute into quality time

Person with headphones on the street

If you run a 6-11 business alongside your 9-5 job, every hour counts. Use these tips to get a surprising amount of awesomeness out of your daily journey.

1. Top up your skills with a MOOC

On the train, bus or tram? It’s the perfect time to study with a Harvard professor. Just fire up your tablet, laptop or smartphone and explore the world of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). Offered by universities, colleges and other institutions, MOOCs are a type of distance learning that’s accessible to everyone, sometimes free of charge.

You can work at your own pace through pre-recorded lectures and videos, and most MOOCs come as a series of modules, so they’re excellent for dipping into during a regular commute. Check out, Coursera and for courses on everything from accounting to photography

2. Become a podcast connoisseur

If you drive to work or have to stand on the train or bus, podcasts could be the answer. They were once a bit of a niche interest, but podcasts have exploded into popular culture thanks to addictive hits like Serial. In 2008, under 1,000 podcasts per month were launched on iTunes, rising to around 6,000 in 2015, according to sociologist Josh Morgan . Comedy, chat, reportage, fiction, drama and dispatches from deliciously nerdy corners of culture such as video games, grammar and woodworking.

Apps like Stitcher give you a world of free podcasts to explore on your smartphone. And some streaming services like Spotify have podcasts included in their subscription packages, so you don’t even need to download an extra app to listen.

3. Do some micro-exercise

Tone your body and generate some feel-good endorphins, even in the tightest of spaces. You may not be able to get any cardio routines going – unless you have some very understanding carriage-mates – but you can stretch and work muscle groups like your core, lower back, pelvic floor, calf and thigh muscles while standing or even sitting still. Here’s a list of 12 on-the-go exercises from Active Times.

4. Plan your working evening

As soon as you board your ride home, flip open your Notebook  or open a notes app on your smartphone and plan out the time you’ll spend on your 6 – 11 business that evening. It’s not only a great way to shake off the working day and focus your mind, it gives you something to refer back to after you’ve stepped through the front door into 1,001 distractions from pets, family, cooking or mail. A bullet journal is a great way to accomplish this if you’re short on time.

5. Create a memory palace

If you do the same old commute every day, you could use it as the foundations of a memory palace. It’s a technique that dates back to ancient Rome, and has been used by fictional super-brains like Sherlock Holmes and Hannibal Lecter, but it’s really easy to do.

To build a memory palace, you associate facts with physical locations, either in reality or in your mind’s eye. If your commute includes certain stops, landmarks, buildings or people, you can use them as ‘locations’ to leave useful information, like your PIN number or password, words in a language you’re learning, or happy memories you’d like to look back on. Creating a weird and wacky mental image at each location acts as a ‘key’ to open the memory palace doors.

6. Try some bite-sized meditation techniques

You don’t need to be sitting on a meditation cushion among clouds of incense to add mindful awareness into your day. As little as 10 minutes of meditation a day can help boost mood, soothe aches and pains and improve sleep, according to mindbodygreen.

Sitting on a bus or train isn’t necessarily peaceful, but you can put on some headphones and use white noise as a backdrop to your mindfulness practice, or download some guided meditation recordings to use. There are a whole host of 5 and 10 minute guided meditations on YouTube.

Get your ideas down on (beautiful Munken Kristall) paper – wherever the day takes you.

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