Don't be the person frantically applying mascara or nodding off on your neighbour's shoulder. Make the most of the dreaded commute with a little life improvement…  

1. Learn a language

Wishing you could speak a second (or even third) language is a common complaint, so why not make the most of your journey to-and-from work to get started? Immerse yourself in your chosen tongue by using an app like Duolingo. Free to download, it uses a combination of writing, listening and speaking exercises with multiple-choice answers, as well as a grading system to show you how well you are doing. Just make sure you don't do any of the talking ones in the quiet carriage. 

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2. Look for love

It's official: more and more of us are finding love through our smartphones. Be proactive and join the dating game by spending your train journey swiping through potential partners.

3. Listen to a great podcast

Thanks to the phenomenal success of 'Serial', more of us than ever before are listening to podcasts, with the majority tuning in while we travel. Not a podcast person? Why not try an audiobook instead: Claire Danes narrates Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, Nicole Kidman reads Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse and Johnny Depp voices Keith Richards' autobiography Life

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4. De-stress and meditate

Being sandwiched into someone's armpit on the Northern Line might not sound like the best time to focus your thoughts, but if there is one scenario during which you are most likely to need a little peace, it's the tube. 

5. Become a bookworm

Claiming that you don't have enough time to read is universal, despite the fact that immersing yourself in a book is perhaps the classic commuter activity. Yet somewhere between being packed into train carriages or changing lines three times, it's a habit we seem to have neglected. Resolve to read a book a month and make a list of what you want to get through: whether it's the classics, the latest bestseller or a non-fiction.

6. Organise your day

Get a head start on the day by visualising it before you've even stepped through the office doors. Clear your inbox, memorise your meetings and prioritise what you need to do by making lists; it's amazing how inspiring it is to feel as if you're in control of the situation ahead of time. 

7. Train your brain

Whether it's The Guardian crossword or a Sudoku puzzle book, there are innumerable studies to prove how important it is to exercise your brain every day. Why not kill two birds with one stone and make your commute that bit more enjoyable by doing some mind-gymnastics? If the old-fashioned paper and pencil method doesn't appeal to you, there are plenty of apps; our favourite is Luminosity, a veteran of the mental-challenge game genre with over 70 million users. 

8. Exercise your body

For those who can, swap public transport with walking, running or cycling and get that all-important daily exercise on the way to and from work. You'll also have a new-found appreciation for your surroundings: your route might take you past an interesting-looking bar, a cool coffee shop or a beautiful park.  


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