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Are you wasting your commute using social media?

If your daily routine on your commute is to stand on the train, get your phone out and read on Facebook about what Sarah (who you haven’t spoken to in 6 months) watched on TV last night, look on Instagram at pictures of Tom’s (who you haven’t seen for a year) breakfast, scroll through a Twitter feed of images of cats and bizarre quotes from celebrities (who you’ve never met and never spoken to) or find out on LinkedIn that Jackie (who you’ve not had any contact with since you left that job 3 years ago) has reached 6 years in the same company, then here’s the deal – you are wasting your life.

Even if your journey is only 20 minutes, over the course of the week that’s more than 3 hours. That’s a significant amount of time that you could be using to your advantage. Over a month that’s 12+ hours. Over a year, 144 hours. Depending on how much sleep you get, that’s near enough 10 days of waking hours a year spent doing, nothing. 10 days!

You probably have a commute of longer than 20 mins. You will probably be commuting for 30 odd years. You’re smart so you can do the maths for your own situation, but be warned – the numbers are frightening.

You don’t need to be told that your time could be better spent elsewhere, and you definitely don’t need a lecture about it. So instead here’s a gentle reminder that life is there for the taking, and by spending much of it using social media, you ain’t taking nothing.

That time could better spent:

Reading. Based on an hour a day, Monday to Friday, you could easily read a book every 2 weeks. That’s 20 odd books a year. Wow. Imagine what great stories and information you could discover and consume.

Writing.  You know that book, blog or personal journal that you’ve been putting off? Always wanted to start but ‘don’t have the time’? You’ll be amazed what you can achieve over the course of a few train rides each week.

Learning. Your commute is a great time to develop a new skill or work on existing ones. How about practising a new card trick, knitting a scarf or finally figuring out how to complete a kakuro puzzle?. What could you practise?

Talking. You know – that old fashioned thing where people use actual words, spoken from their actual mouths to communicate with an actual fellow human.


What if you aren’t a keen reader, writer or have anything you want to learn or practise right now? Then consider this.

Social media makes you less present. It takes you away from where you are and who you are with to somewhere you aren’t with someone your not with. That’s messed up!

Commuters use smartphone

In one experiment, Cacioppo looked for a connection between the loneliness of subjects and the relative frequency of their interactions via Facebook, chat rooms, online games, dating sites, and face-to-face contact. The results were unequivocal. “The greater the proportion of face-to-face interactions, the less lonely you are,” he says. “The greater the proportion of online interactions, the lonelier you are.”

Social media adds peer pressure to your life. You are subjected to images of great holidays people have had, fancy places they have been, new stuff that they bought, that they went for a run, again. You compare yourself to them. You feel the need to keep up. You feel like you are doing something wrong because you’re not doing those things,  going to those places or buying those things. It’s nonsense, all of it.

Social media reduces your will power.


Social media is spying on you. Facebook is tracking your every move on the web. If you let them, they also watch where you are, who you text, what you text them, and access your photos.Twitter is at it too. Big brother is here.

Yes, social media can be fun. It can be a good way to find and share interesting articles, funny images or comments that make you smile. After all – sometimes we don’t want to think, we just want a distraction. But it’s best when used in small doses, and actively, not passively. If you aren’t careful it can suck you in and before you know it x amount of time has passed and once that’s gone, it’s gone. You won’t ever get that time back, so try limiting how much you give to it. Set a clear intention to stick to that limit. Use your will power to improve your life, not waste it.

The facts are there – by switching off social media you aren’t missing out, you’re opting in.

So as of today, which bucket do you fall into:

  1. Someone who uses social media everyday, on every commute.

  2. Someone who has decided to reclaim their time and put it to productive use by doing something real, or to enjoy being more present, less lonely, with less pressure in your life?

That’s got to be the easiest choice you’ll make today…

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