The average American spends 52 minutes commuting every workday. That’s nearly 4 and a half hours a week, or 225 hours a year. To put it in perspective, if you work for 45 years and have an average commute, you’ll spend 421 days (day and night) in transit from your home to your workplace. 421 days! That’s a lot of life.

Now, I’m no stranger to commutes. I’ve had very long ones (over 2 hours each way) and very short ones (15 steps from under the covers to my home office). The modes of transport I’ve used are plenty; I’ve gotten to work by car, by bus, by bike, by train, by tram, by foot, by ferry and even (briefly and awkwardly) by skateboard.

But, whatever length or style my commute has been, one thing has never changed. I always use the time to learn something new. When I first started working as an editor, I listened to Mignon Fogarty’s brilliant Grammar Girl podcast series. After relocating to Switzerland, I filled workbook upon workbook with German vocabulary and grammar exercises while sitting on the train, en route to the office.

These days, I listen to our very own getAbstract audio summaries as I walk to work and home again. My personal favorites usually come from the Mind & Soul category or, conversely, from the Popular Science section. I like to think that by the time I retire I won’t have lost 421 days, I’ll have spent it learning, growing and challenging my mind.

So, instead of seeing all the time you spend commuting as something lost, try to think of it as something gained. If you can do that, the question is: What will you do with your 421 days?

To get you started, here are five of my favorite summaries from the getAbstract library:

the man who tried        welcome    why you think    carrer and selfdevelopment


Heather Hodel is an editor for getAbstract. She has a wide range of interests and works on everything in the library from AI to Zola (Émile).

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