Time sinks: Apps, games and tech things to do on a quick commute

Map My Walk

There are many people who commute to work by walking, especially if they live in interconnected cities and towns. Perhaps you’re one of them. You probably see it as a great way of exercising, and with Map My Walk, you can calculate your pace, route, distance, calories and steps. It’s a handy way to look at how much your daily commute contributes to your health and wellbeing. You can import data to connected devices from Jawbone, Misfit, Fitbit, Garmin and Withings. There’s also the ability to map and plan your route before you leave your house.

Serial Reader (Android, iOS, free)

It feels great to get ingrained in a good novel, but in reality, not everyone has the time to get through long-read prose. There’s just not enough time in the day. With Serial Reader, though, you can use your commutes to delve into small chunks of books. This smart app lets you subscribe to classic books and sends you an instalment to read each day. You should be able to read each issue within 20 minutes, and if you manage to do that, then there’s no reason why you can’t finish a whole book within a few days. The app has over 300 books available, including classics like The Three Musketeers, Treasure Island, Wuthering Heights, My Antonia, Les Miserables and Peter Pan.

Duolingo (Android, iOS free)

Long commutes may feel like wasted time, although they don’t have to be. You can easily do something productive when walking or on public transport - like learning a language. Duolingo covers a plethora of languages, including Danish, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Russian. The best thing about it is that language learning is presented as a game, where you pick up words and earn points at the same time. There’s the option to learn in daily doses of 5, 10, 15 or 20 minutes. 

LibriVox Audio Books (iOS, free)

Radio still plays a big role in today’s media-dominated world, and there’s nothing better than a good old radio drama. Of course, it’s easy to access popular radio stations on most smartphones and media players today, but LibriVox Audio Books is an app that gives you direct access to over 15,000 audiobooks and dramas. Free to download and use, it’s made possible a team of volunteers who record, edit and distribute these books. New releases are published daily, and you can find everything from biographies to novels. They’re all presented in easy-to-digest, quick audio recordings. The app could add a new dimension to your commute.

Trello (Android, iOS, free)

You can do pretty much what you want while you commute. It can be a time for rest, entertainment and, like it nor not, actual work. The fact is, you’ve no doubt got a really busy job, so your regular commute can be a good time to be pragmatic and get things done. Trello is an excellent companion for this. Widely seen as one of the best task management apps on the market, you can sort out everything that needs to be done in visual cards that can be tracked. There’s even the ability to add teams and individuals to cards, so you could delegate tasks or get support from your colleagues while you’re travelling to work or an important business meeting. In 20 minutes, you could organise a lot.