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My job requires me to drive about 30 minutes to the firm and 30 minutes back to home. How can I use this otherwise wasted time efficiently? Do you have special audio CD's or tracks you do listen to in this time? I could also use my mobile phone, if it matters, but I simply don't know how.

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I usually listen to podcasts on my iPod whenever I have to travel/commute. This time is not really used "efficiently", but more pleasant which is maybe the best you can expect from traveling by car. – 0x6d64 Jun 23 '12 at 18:28
@0x6d64 What are these podcasts about? As I guess, on a large scale of videos you need to get the visuals, too. – Michael Jun 23 '12 at 18:36
These are almost exclusively audio podcasts with topics ranging from politics to skepticism. My personal favorites however are "npr money" and "this american life". One is an excellent show about economics, which explains fairly complex stuff in an understandable way. The other uses storytelling (mostly non fictional) to explore a certain theme like "crime scenes" or "breakups". As a German speaker, I also enjoy "Jazz und Politik" and other stuff from the Bavarian public radio. – 0x6d64 Jun 23 '12 at 18:52
I read this as "how can I use time travel efficiently" - was hoping for some insight :-) – Rory Alsop Jun 23 '12 at 19:58

11 Answers 11

I listen to audiobooks downloaded from, which I download to my iPhone 4 using their app and then play through my car radio using its Aux input. Typical member prices are 30% off retail (e.g. a $25.00 audiobook would be $17.50). However you normally buy books using credits; I have the platinum level subscription for $23/month which gives me two credits a month. Most audiobooks cost 1 credit, so I am really paying only $11.50 per book, regardless of the price. (Some expensive audio books retailing for say $75 cost two credits, still a good deal).

Typical unabridged audio books are 10-15 hours long, although some are much longer (Stephen King's The Stand, for example, is almost 48 hours yet still costs only one credit.) So a 10-hour book would last two weeks of commute time, 30 minutes each way.

They have 6100 business titles, 2800 science & technology titles, 14,300 general fiction titles, 5300 sci-fi and fantasy titles, plus other genres. I usually alternate between non-fiction and fiction.

Over the last five years, since I joined Audible, I have listened to some 260 books. Any that I have deleted from my phone are still stored at if I want to download them again.

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I want to add that audible uses DRM, but it works on the popular mobile phones. IMO this is somewhat understandable, but something to know in advance. – 0x6d64 Jun 24 '12 at 7:46
@0x6d64 Good point. I don't mind the DRM, since I intend to continue to be an Audible subscriber (and since they are owned by Amazon, they should be around for a while). There are other services that don't use DRM, e.g. Simply Audiobooks which have a number of books in MP3 format so you could burn them to your own CD. However they have much fewer books (9000 total, not sure how many are available in MP3). – tcrosley Jun 24 '12 at 18:47
Project Gutentag has some audio books too, for free. Those are mostly novels though. – Gaʀʀʏ Jun 24 '12 at 19:04
Lots and lots of DRM free audiobooks at These will be classics rather than current, but there's a lot of good stuff there. – Dennis S. Jun 25 '12 at 20:03

I second 0x6d64's podcast suggestion. Audio podcasts are, in my humble opinion, the single most productive way to use travel time (particularly time spent in a car, since you are not actually free to do much else). I use podcasts to both learn and keep myself up on current events. I've listed several that I've consistently listened to (in order starting with my favorite).

  1. This American Life - radio journalism (think radio documentary). Consistently the #1 iTunes podcast. My personal favorite for several years now. ~1 hour long

  2. NPR's Planet Money - economics/finance podcast, reported in understandable, accessible, and interesting terms. ~15-30 minutes

  3. The Moth - storytelling series. True stories told at live "Moth" events in cities around the country. Interesting, funny, sad, and everything else under the sun. ~10-20 minutes

  4. RadioLab - difficult to describe, but covers science-related topics in very engaging and entertaining ways. Short episodes run ~20 minutes, full-length episodes ~1 hour.

Experiment with others, then share which ones you like!

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I would definitely recommend listening to podcasts while travelling.

In my opinion BBC offers great variety of high quality podcasts, have a look here:

You can choose podcasts on many different topics: economy, news, art, sports etc. Completely free, no ads, updated every day. I have been using that site as a source of podcasts for about 5 years and I can say it is just perfect.

Listening to podcasts in general allows you to be up-to-date with current affairs, expand your horizons, learn about other cultures etc.

I think it is also a great way of learning foreign languages and to make it even more effective you can make some notes about new words and phrases while listening.

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I second (third?) the idea of listening to books. I've purchased a few audiobooks, and they've worked well for me, but in order to save money, I've started looking into and Project Gutenberg ( PG's mission is to put all the books in the world that have passed out of copyright on the web for people to read for free. Librivox's mission is to provide audio recordings of everything PG has. But I've also seen some of PG's books provided as mp3/ogg/other audio formats.

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I stream podcasts from my phone (Nexus S) through Bluetooth to my car's speakers. Before that I bought a Jambox to keep in the car as a speaker.

I use the app BeyondPod, but my husband prefers Google Listen. I've tried Stitcher, and a few others. Play around until you find one that's good for you.

The app will have a search feature so you can subscribe to podcasts. The app will automatically update them, and you will use the settings to decide how to delete them.

These aren't assignments, so if you find you don't like one, unsubscribe!

These are the podcasts I get the most value from: Wizard of Ads 99% invisible Manager Tools (they also have Career Tools) Grammar Girl Freakonomics Get It Done Guy Nutrition Diva
(Go to for more) HBR Ideacast Stanford Entrepreneurial Thought Leadership

I'm impressed with your question. You are obviously headed toward great things. I'll be cheering for you. W!

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I'd advise you to use this rare time to do nothing. Doing nothing: - brings up ideas and solutions of problems you would never found when you were specifically looking for a solution - makes you relax - feels good

See also:

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An interesting concept; I often find when I drive without audio distractions, my mind tends to wander, recall, and think. – Gaʀʀʏ Jul 20 '12 at 16:41

The correct answer is move closer to work and stop wasting so much time and money commuting.

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Exactly. Or take public transport and work/read. Or at least bike to work so you can stay fit without a gym membership. – Pablo Diaz Jul 3 '12 at 17:15

If you live in the UK I'd always recommend listening to radio 4. Fantastic for news and current affairs, including politics and finance (especially at 'drive time'), as well as documentaries on a wide range of subjects and literary adaptations. Best part is because it's a BBC radio station there are no adverts either.

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I don't know if it may apply to your situation, but I'm a native french speaker and I listen to an English radio to improve my oral comprehension of the language.

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Personally, when in travel or commuting, I'm listening to the audio edition of The Economist. All of articles are read by a lector.

However, I don't do hat when actually driving (but it may be feasible for people with better attention-sharing skills or being stuck in a traffic jam, etc).

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