Commuting. It is one of those things that many have had to experience at some point. Some are lucky with their short commutes – in fact, Portugal has one of the shortest commutes in Europe, while others have much longer commutes – Turkey, for example, is on average 48 minutes long. Looking at Europe more generally, 39% of Europeans spend more than 45 minutes commuting. That’s a great deal of people spending a lot of time travelling. To be more specific that is approximately 3.75 days a month used to simply commute to and from work.

Did you know the theory that it takes 30 days to form a habit? Matt Cutts, a Google engineer, argues that if there’s something that you’ve always wanted to do but you just haven’t, you should just try it for 30 days. After that, you’ll have formed a habit and it will become second nature. So for that boost in your own productivity, here are 5 ways to get the very most out of your commute (no matter how short it may be):

1. Learn a language

With 45 minutes on your hands each way, it’s the perfect time to listen to an audiobook or a podcast in a foreign language. Using your commuting time to learn a skill will add a little flair to your CV and put you in good stead for the future. They say it takes 600 hours to learn a language and with those numbers you could be fluent in French in just 400 journeys or 24 weeks!

2. Use the time to work

For some commuters, the 45 minute commute is a great excuse to get some work related tasks complete. 39% of European commuters spend more than 45 minutes commuting but only half of those actually use that time to get some work done. In particular, the countries which report to work the most while commuting  include Turkey (68%), Italy  (60%) and Switzerland (60%) The time alone means no disruptions in the office, no noise for those commuting via public transportation and no phone calls or meetings. The perfect chance to optimise time and get some of those little tasks that never seem to leave your to do list done.

3. Clear your inbox

Emails, emails, emails. Sometimes it is as though our inboxes never stop feeding us more. Getting to work and seeing a sea of unread emails can mean your day is already starting off on an unproductive foot. Use your commute to tackle the important emails so that by the time you’re at your desk, you’ve dealt with anything that might be pressing. Apps such as are a great example of an app that helps clear your inboxes quickly and efficiently. Great for those days when your train is running late.

4. Boost your creative thinking

45 minutes each way means you have a total of 90 minutes to turn that time into an inspiration hunt. That can mean anything: listen to the conversation opposite you, look out the windows, take notes, and look at what people are reading… all of these things serve as great ways to find inspiration that can help you with your job. The insights can stimulate your brain and spark new ideas. One suggestion is to remove social media apps from your phone and direct your attention to other interesting, inspiring or useful sources of information.

5. Invest in a bicycle

Commuting for a long time on a regular basis can take a toll on your health. According to Time Magazine, rise in blood sugar, higher cholesterol, anxiety and a decline in happiness and life satisfaction.  Those who take a bike to work tend to have a higher work life balance and are generally less stressed. Regular exercise has a positive impact on well-being, with increase in brain power, fighting of infection and more, as reported by Bike Radar earlier this year.  Two really good reasons to invest in a sturdy bike and start cycling to work.

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