Using Rush Hour to get Smarter

The rush hour drives commuters crazy. Road rage, train rage, and even bus rage, dog commuters, as they try to get to work. In Britain, 25 million commuters spend 169.3 hours per year travelling to and from work, or just under 23 working days, almost as much as their annual leave quota.

Commuters say commuting is frustrating and annoying. Perhaps the most frustrating thing about commuting is that you are stuck in the car, or on the train, or bus, have no control of events, and feel that commuting is wasting your time. You could take back the control and use your commuting time profitably to learn something new. 

What you can do will depend upon how you commute. If you commute by car, instead of tuning to a mindless radio breakfast programme, why not use your CD player. You could buy, or borrow from your local public library, some audio books, and brush up on your knowledge of literature. There are audio books on non-fiction topics, learn some history or another subject. If you must have music in the morning, you could play classical music, or opera. Evidence indicates that classical music calms people down and this might be very beneficial to you, as well as enlarging your knowledge of classical music. You can find language courses on CD; why not learn some words in a foreign language ready for your summer holiday, or vacation.

On public transport, where someone else is driving, there are more options available to use your time to exercise your brain, or learn something new. If you commute on buses or trains, you could read a book on a subject that you want to know more about. You could use an MP3 player and study a language course or other educational material. You could use an e-reader to read books, or you could download books and learning materials from the internet, into your mobile phone.

In some countries, some trains have a facility for commuters to use their lap top computers whilst travelling. Where this is possible, you could take an on-line study course in some subject that you want to learn.

In some countries, there are learning carriages on some commuter trains. In Britain, some years ago there were over 120 daily classes run on commuter trains, but open plan carriages replaced the old compartment trains and this change did not provide the necessary privacy for classes. Many did not survive, but there are still some learning carriages on British trains. In Germany, yoga classes on some trains have proved a huge hit with commuters.

When commuting by bicycle, you need to have all your wits about you to avoid being mown down by inattentive motorists. There are ways that you can keep your brain active too. Try to vary your route, by passing through different streets you might see something you have never seen before. You can learn an awful lot about London, or any other city, just by varying your route.

Think creatively, and your commuting time need not be wasted. You can use your travelling time to your own benefit, instead of just fuming impotently that you are going to be late again. You never know commuting might become mildly pleasurable instead of just irritating or infuriating.