Did you know the average commuter in Chicago spends 31.9 minutes commuting to work, each way? It’s the most time of any city, according to USA Today, and 20 percent longer than the average commute for all Americans.

Over the course of the year, if you commute both ways, five days a week, 50 weeks of the year (accounting for two weeks of vacation), that adds up to over 11 days each year the average Chicagoan spends commuting.

That’s a lot of time, and we all know time is a precious resource. When you’ve read through the whole RedEye and you don’t want to carry Harry Potter with you (is that just me?), here are a few ideas turning that time into something productive.

  • Read a book on professional development. Amazon has more than 170 thousand professional & technical books available for download on the Kindle and more than 3 million books to order.
  • Take a “Money Minute.” If you use a mobile app to manage your personal budget, use your commute time to categorize expenses and income and get a snapshot of where you are in the month.
  • Listen to a podcast. Perfect for those who drive and need to keep your eyes on the road. Wondering what to listen to? Lifehacker has you covered with a guide to finding the best podcasts.
  • Make a to-do list. Whether you’re on your way home from a long day or starting the day fresh, there’s nothing like getting to your desk and feeling like you’re already got a head start on the day. Mashable showcases 6 mobile apps that help you get organized.
  • Catch up on blogs and news. I love to subscribe to blogs and the train is the best time for me to read them. I’m not missing anything else by scanning through slideshows of insanely priced home accents. If you were a Google Reader devotee and haven’t replaced it yet, check out feedly.
  • Do nothing sometimes. Let’s face it, some days you don’t have time for yourself and you just need a break. Pump up some feel good music and zone out for 40 minutes. By the time you reach your destination, you’ll be refreshed. Songza creates playlists for you based on your preferences and what you’re doing – check out the Keeping Calm & Mellow or Waking Up Happy.

Tell us in the comments – how do you commute?