Rolling University- Turning your downtime into productive time

I have the type of personality which wants to be as productive as humanly possible. I can’t help it. Mundane but mostly necessary things like commuting are the bane of my existence. That was until I started tuning out the latest Drake hit and tuning into educational audio. I know, I know it’s hard to give up time from listening to the latest Queen Bee hit on Spotify, but haven’t you thought to yourself “I wish I knew more about finances” “I wish I could learn that language” or “I wish I could read that book before the movie comes out?” There are a multitude of opportunities to turn that commute into your next college degree all without the diploma and high tuition cost.

Here are five different ways to make your commute time more productive-

  1. Podcasts – These are the new school version of talk radio. There are thousands to choose from and many pathways to listening to them including iTunes, Spotify, and independent websites. In Spotify there’s a category of them called “Learn Something”. I’m currently hooked on Farnoosh Torabi’s podcast called “So Money”. She interviews many successful entrepreneurs, authors, and financial leaders about their money habits. I’ve learned a lot from it, including how to negotiate my next pay raise, how to refinance student loans and work better with my boss.
  2. TED talks – If you haven’t heard of TED before it’s a non profit organization dedicated to the spread of ideas in technology, education and design. The talks cover a broad range of topics from Antarctica to Zorse (a zebra/horse hybrid). They are all under 20 minutes. There’s even an option in the app to select how much time you have and what topic you want to learn about and it will automatically populate a playlist. TED talks come from the top leaders and changemakers in their field. Check out this phenomenal talk by Susan Colantuono on advice you wouldn’t have otherwise heard. It could mean a promotion for you!
  3. Books on tape – That movie that your friends are all about to go see this weekend based on that book you haven’t read? Books on tape has you covered. I have heard great things about audible which is $14.95 a month. Often times Amazon throws in a really discounted offer for the audio version of a book after you buy a written copy. For you frugal readers you can check out your local library’s services. If you need book ideas (as-if) check out this list of new releases from 2016. Reading helps you stay mentally sharp longer, sound smarter, and have things to talk about at the next networking event.
  4. Your friend – There’s something special about having a conversation with a friend on the phone instead of text. I recently talked with my friend on my ride home and she hinted she may be engaged soon. I’m so happy I found out that way instead of via Facebook! She also was able to sense my disappointment about a situation that I faked being happy about. Please consider your safety while engaging in phone use and driving! I will tell me friend to call me to make it easier or I’ll start the call before I leave.
  5. Learn a language- There are multiple different programs available for language learning. A quick Google search produced online based Pimsleur. There are more affordable podcasts available like Spanish Obsessed and Yes Japan. Alternatively if you desire to brush up on your skills pick a podcast spoken in the language! Learning a new language could correlate to a higher pay raise or different job opportunities.


Think about it, if your commute time is 30 minutes each way five days a week you are spending almost eleven days a year in your car. That’s longer than a weekend professional development conference or a week of language submersion in a foreign country. Being a lifelong learner has its advantages for your career, health, relationships and more. You have no excuse not to!

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