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What to do When You're Bored on the Bus or Train

The bus/train ride often feels like a long, boring waste of time - if you don’t know how to use that time wisely. However, it’s actually a great opportunity to be productive since you can complete fun, useful, or even mundane tasks that you would be too busy for at home. Here are some ways to make the most out of your bus ride rather than scrolling mindlessly through your Instagram explore page:

  • Watch Netflix! If you’re worried about running out of data, just download your episodes at home the night before.

  • Make a playlist! Use Spotify to compile songs that help you sleep during the ride or that pump you up for the day. Try out some of Starboards’s recommended playlists here (#shamelessselfpromo).

  • Study! Seriously, the bus is a great place to work on your Quizlets or review for a test. I recommend using online platforms, flashcards, or notebooks for easy access to content while in your seat. Is it too loud to focus? Download Noisli, an app that allows you to create mixes of simple, relaxing sounds (such as water droplets, the forest at night, and white noise) to block out other conversations.

  • Get a headstart on homework! It is pretty much impossible to complete written homework neatly on the bus. Personally, I recommend reading assigned textbook sections; if you like to annotate while you read, just carry your hardcopy with you. If it’s too difficult to lug around the physical book, just take photos of the textbook pages you were assigned to read while you’re at home. On the bus, turn your phone sideways and zoom in on the photos to read. The bus ride is also a great time to read and annotate a section of your English book or start drafting an essay on Word.

  • Use Pinterest! If you’re feeling bored, sign up for Pinterest and start looking for some inspiring quotes or projects that you want to try. At this time of year, Pinterest is a great way to get inspo for the Holidays or DIY fall drinks.

  • Edit photos! The bus ride is a great time to get through mini-projects that you want to complete, such as editing pictures for a perfect Instagram post.

  • Organize! Even if it’s boring, your commute is the perfect opportunity to complete mundane tasks like cleaning out your inbox or rearranging the apps on your home screen.

  • Watch YouTube! Even if there are no YouTubers that you watch regularly, it’s just a fun to fall into a vortex of cat videos, baking tutorials, or random vlogs. (Life hack: If you’re looking for a laugh, SNL has a channel with tons of hilarious sketches from their shows. The Office’s channel also uploads new clips and “Best of [character]” compilations regularly!)

  • Catch up on the news! For convenience purposes, read “morning briefings,” summary articles published daily by many news companies. They include information on important ongoing events both politically and internationally along with other information that any citizen should know. For iPhone users, you can program the News app to send articles including morning briefings (from a media company of your choice) to your home screen each day. My personal favorite briefings are the New York Times’ and CNN’s editions.

  • Listen to a podcast! Podcasts are a great way to keep up with the news or even just be entertained. Starboard EIC Vivienne Germain recommends NPR News Now and Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness.

  • Sleep! After spending hours trying to nap on the bus, I have come up with the perfect method: rest your knees/shins on the seat in front of you so your back and head are resting slightly lower than they normally would on your seat’s back. Roll up a jacket and put it between the window and your head to act as a pillow. If you have an extra jacket, drape it over yourself like a blanket. Best. Nap. Ever.


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