Manila, Philippines

11 Things To Do For A Productive Commuting

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Are you among those who spend hours commuting to and from work? How can we make these hours spent more productive? Tired of just staring blankly outside the windows?

Imagine this breakdown of a 24-hour working day and tell me if it sounds familiar to you: 10hrs in the office, 5hrs of sleep, 5hrs of commuting, 4hrs eating, preparing, taking a bath and leisure time (TV late night news, internet surfing, etc). If you’ve been under a similar routine for quite some time now, then chances are you want a more productive use of at least the 5 hours spent commuting. Here are some ideas from yours truly:


People usually sleep when they are in the shuttle vans and FX. This is probably the easiest thing to do, and for one to recover from daily sleep deprivation. Take some power naps. But this is not always the most productive thing to do, and when you commute via MRT, buses or jeepneys, then sleeping is not really the wisest thing to do.


When you look at your fellow commuters, for every 10 people there’s likely at least 3 of them with earphones on. Listen to your downloaded songs, or to your favorite FM station to perk up your day and your mood. Too bad cellphones don’t have AM stations, so that one can listen to the news. Check as well what your driver is tuned into. Suggest you try audio-books too.



Talk to your colleagues, friends and relatives who commute with you to and from work. Time to catch-up on non-work stuff! Engage stranger-seatmates into healthy discussions. Get to know new friends and do some networking on the road. Of course you just have to be careful with who you talk to and what you say. Send text messages to friends and family to check on them and show them you remembered them. Do phone calls to family members you see at home but don’t really get to spend time talking with them about anything under the sun.


If you’re not biyahilo. A number of people watch videos and TV series as well while commuting. More for entertainment value really but definitely, one can easily turn this into productive viewing.


Read blogs, newspapers, books, ebooks. Be updated on latest happenings via your usual social networks (just make sure though that your FB and twitter time remains productive). In this highly mobile world, this is very easy to do. Try to learn something new via reading. Read on the stocks you are following for any buy or sell leads. This will only be hard for people who get dizzy reading while in a moving vehicle. Might want to check its effect on your eyes too.



Write posts for your blog, write a book, write posts on your social networks. You can do this via your gadgets or via old school pen and paper, but more practically the former. I find this easier, eye-friendly and not dizzying compared to readings. It’s very much like composing a very long text message.


Update your calendar and planner. This is best done during early morning while you’re on your way to work, or homebound. See what’s in store for you today and in the weeks to come, and come up with things to look forward to. Set your planned tasks for the weeks to come. Word of advice: maintain a single planner for both work and non-work. This helps you achieve work-life balance and allows you to manage your time well. Avoids conflicting schedules as well. After all, you’re just one person with only 24 hours per day, albeit your multiple roles in life.



Yeah yeah you might say but I already spend 10 hours in the office! Well just in case you have other work to do such as part-time jobs or freelancing or sideline. Send emails to your customers or suppliers. Close deals. Network with your circle. Do marketing blitz via text or web, spread word-on-web. Just determine at which time of the day your target market is likely to pay attention to your messages: early morning or at night. Know as well whether they are also commuters or not.



Time to catch breakfast on the go or for some light dinner on your way home. Just make sure the vehicles you’re riding allows this and be mindful of other commuters as well. They’ll appreciate it if your food does not smell (much!) and is not spill-prone. Care to share? Also, watch your health since not all on-the-go foods are healthy.


Just be discreet on this, and be mindful that observing is actually different from staring blankly. Observing is looking with a purpose of digesting valuable information. Observe the other commuters, what are they up to? What do they usually do? Observe your way to work and your way home. Any developments, any new ads, anything new being constructed? Any new product selling like hotcakes? Any alternative route or new terminals that might be more efficient for you? Do company shopping! Just try to avoid the usual eyesores of course.



After all that has been said and done, it is actually good to have a prayer habit during commuting. A time to reflect and settle down, and see whether we are still happy with our path in life, and whether we still have that close relationship with God we used to have back in college. This might be the most productive alternative for those who believe that everything and anything, despite all our humanly efforts, still depends on the grace of God.

In this world of ours, it is not really the lack of options or alternatives that makes us unproductive. There is a world of possibilities out there, even considering the limitations of commuting. I think the reason is more of the lack of drive, will and attitude to be productive. 

That’s why we’d rather sleep on it.

Tumatakbo ang oras! Hindi na maibabalik ang oras na lumipas! (Time is running! And one can never bring back time that has passed!)  When you look back at the years of your life, ask yourself:

What have I done in my past (insert your age here) years of existence?

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