In my first year working as a full-time IR & communication consultant, I found myself taking long train rides in and out of the city every day. Initially a strenuous endeavor, I forced myself to accept I’d lose an hour and a half of productivity every single day on top of a full day of work. But then, about three months in I decided to do something that completely changed my mindset.

From that point onwards, rather than sleeping or staring at the sky for that hour and a half, I would instead learn. I’d teach myself things and grow my understanding of nearly everything. I soon anchored my learning challenge in the following tactics. I set myself a challenge to read fifteen books per year, and soon had purchased myself a variety of marketing, investor relations, small business management and personal finance textbooks to get started.

You might be reading this and asking, “what’s wrong with sleeping or doing nothing?” Well, when you think about it, 1.5 multiplied by the 261 working days of the year is almost 400 hours. You may see it differently, but I feel like that’s an awful long time of your life to not maximise.

If you catch a long bus or train to work every day, this article is for you. If you, like me, spent a lot of idle time commuting, I want to encourage you to consider using your hours commuting to your own advantage. Here are five of my favourite things to do on a long train to, or from, work.

Read endlessly

These days, it can be nearly impossible to read. Our attention spans are shorter, we multitask harder and access information quicker than our parents and grandparents did. This shift I feel is a combined product of the instant psychological gratification we receive from checking our devices and the strong uptake of high impact, fast-paced messaging of television and video as the benchmark for normal.

That’s fine, but books can teach you a lot when it comes to knowledge. It’s hard to replicate a long text in the way it gives you access to the author’s inner thoughts for six to eight hours. That’s really quite intimate when you think about it.

My rationale all comes down to this – there’s just no way you could spend six hours with a financial advisor, a teacher or an expert seller for just $14.95. Use those hours to learn from the author, and build your knowledge!

Reading on the train

Prepare your day’s to-do list (and get fired up)

It’s 8:45am, and you mozy in to your office sleepily. You sit down, unpack your things, go to the kitchen and make a coffee and…what are you doing again today?

Boost your professional productivity by meditating through your day on the train. Pull your notepad out and write yourself a list. It saves a world of time and starts the day on a positive. It doesn’t have to be a list either; jot down notes for your client meeting at 2pm, write a sales script, or just get yourself in the zone in advance!

Talk to those you care about

I really like this one.

Give your partner and/or kids something to wake up to. Message your friend groups. Send a snapchat. Invite someone to dinner. When work begins, time will start flying. There is no better time to talk to the people you care about.

“Have a great day I love you.”

It’s that simple.

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