Most of us working stiffs have a commute in some form for work, where we’re usually piloting our car as the solo passenger. Most likely listen to music, or maybe sports talk radio. Those more tied into current interests and events may listen to NPR or maybe podcasts on their favorite subjects. The latter aren’t bad as there is a lot of knowledge gained from Robb Wolf and other’s who do great podcasts. I would say most though typically waste this time, though there are different commutes if you ride the bus or train versus driving.
I’m sure I’m beating the dead cat here, but expanding your knowledge using free library resources is something you should consider. Audiobooks (Books on CD) and Languages on CD are both resources many well run (and funded) libraries should possess. If I am not looking for a specific title (maybe 50% of the time) I will browse the non-fiction and find something that catches my eye. I’ve had a few clunkers, but more often than not I find something useful out of any book I check out. Biographies, spiritual thinking, financial books, sports stories, perseverance. So many options. If non-fiction/self-improvement/thought expansion isn’t that interesting to you (though it should be), most best selling fiction books are also available. I spent nearly six months listening to the entire Harry Potter works (116 hours, excellent production by the way). If entertainment is your goal, then they may even have some stand-up comedian disks. I’ve listened to everything from Patton Oswalt to Jay Mohr to Greg Giraldo in that regard.
You can also take the time to learn the basics of new languages. You won’t become proficient, but you can understand some words and dip your toes in the language water. Our library system has Pimsleur language programs for everything from Mandarin Chinese to Dutch to Portuguese (just in time for the Olympics in a couple years!), some even getting deeper into the language. For example, the Portuguese (Brazilian) language has in total 54 CDs in the same systematic course, so you somewhere around 50+ hours of linguistic training (cost savings according to Pimsleur website is $700). I have used these in the past, usually not getting too deep, but enjoying the process and the mind’s ability to pick up and learn new things. Besides Spanish (high school), I’ve taken Japanese (college), then on CD’s I’ve learned some very basic level Italian and danish.
Anyways, don’t always waste the opportunity to make yourself more interesting or learn a new skill, especially in time that you’ve already written off. That’s called efficient multi-tasking. Instead of listening to some blow-hard talk about how <INSERT TEAM NAME OR POLITICAL PARTY OR INDIVIDUAL HERE> sucks (or is awesome), you could be developing into a better version of yourself. Hopefully, some of these free resources are available to you as well. If your library sucks or you live in the boonies, I really do recommend Robb Wolf’s podcasts (health and nutrition and exercise over 200 podcasts and counting) as he has great supporting characters such as Greg Everett, Kris Kresser and John Welbourn (Former NFL Lineman who started Power Athlete and Crossfit Football) join him on many of the productions.