Driving/Commuting to Work

This question is about the 2 hours of your day that you almost never utilize right, or get to enjoy, all your life. Yes, the part about your life that you abhor the most, traveling to your workplace.
Most people find it pressurizing and tense, to say the least. Some (veeeeerrrrry few) might pretend to enjoy it, but lets face it, traveling to work, esp. in the morning rush hour, is something we all wish would go away somehow.
going-to-workWhat workarounds have you found to avoid it all together? (apart from quitting your job :S). Also, cant we have teleporters like Star Trek, that help us ‘energize’ to work? Scientists work on tetra hedron colliders, WMDs and satellites all the time, why not do teleporters first, and save up on all the energy/fossil fuel wastage too?
I mean, going to the same place every day, burning fossil fuels that take thousands of years to create beneath the earth, and then coming back to right where you were in the night, isn’t that just plain stupid? :S
Gas fares, driving, pollution, keeping up with traffic, signals, snob drivers. The biggest horror – public transport, be it the subway, trams, taxis or buses. Makes you feel like work is a terrible place to go to, when you wake up in the morning 🙁
Seriously though, how do you cope with all this. Furthermore, do suggest ways of lessening the stress created while commuting to/from work, n ways of reducing the time required for it.
Suggestions appreciated (and badly needed too!)


  • The commute it a [needed] means to an end. I am fortunate to have much of my commute spent on a commuter train, permitting me to read business or personal items. The reading can be print materials, including newpapers or business reports, or digital items on my iphone. I am still waiting for the transporter beam.
    Barrett Peterson, CPA

  • Why we do the travelling, should be thought of in the posotive manner.
    The provitions your making for your familly.
    The growth of your integrity by not wanting to thump the idiots.
    Nature has beauty everwhere to those with open eyes as you pass by or wait in the que.
    Getting home to the ones you love or the items paid for from your earnings after your hopefully positive input at work.
    And look forward to been captain Kirk travelling the universe one day, but only when the interstellar commuter traffic light goes green 😉

  • Commuting is the utmost idiocy of the information era.
    In the Internet Age, everything gets reversed, as was
    amply pointed out by Marshall McLuhan way back in
    1962, just 5 years after the launch of Sputnik.
    You do not go to work, work comes to you, wherever
    you happen to be. Centralized office complexes are
    obsolete technology based on the Industrial model
    of centralized factories. They are but paper-shuffling
    factories in the sky. Except now there is not even
    paper to shuffle because it is all digitized.
    So the point is not to find ways to lessen the stress
    of commuting nor the time involved. The point is to
    simply stop commuting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There is absolutely
    no need for it by any pure-knowledge worker.
    90% of the people in office buildings do not need to
    be there. So stop. Simply stop. Save endless hours
    and win back your time — and your life.
    Besides, you will be far more productive!!!

  • Railing against commuting by saying “this is stupid” is about as worthwhile as saying why do I have to wear business clothes if I don’t feel like it, I get the job done in my jeans and T-shirt. It’s just the way it is, and all of us are forced to work to provide for ourselves and our families. Thus, you have to go to work, you have to abide by their rules, you can’t go around spitting at people you don’t like or swearing or any number of other things that many of us might think are dumb, because it’s the work world, and that’s the way it works. As my father used to say, “That’s why they call it WORK and not PLAY.”
    That being said, there are things you can do to improve your commute. Listen to energizing music on the way in so you’re ready for your day, and calming music on the way home to de-stress. Listen to books on tape and learn something while you drive, or NPR. Move closer to your job and eliminate or drastically reduce your commute. Find a job closer to home. Take public transportation (or drive to a park and ride, or move to where it’s accessible) and read, sleep, listen to music, whatever. There are lots of solutions.

  • Possibly the very best use of the time, especially in this global economy, is to learn another language. There must be investment of time while not driving but this effort will be greatly amplified by playing language learning tapes and then podcasts in the language you are studying. I cannot think of a commuting activity with a bigger potential pay off than this one.
    These guys make an excellent product: http://www.rosettastone.com/ and they include CD’s of review material for exactly this purpose. 1/2 hour a day on the computer with the language course and then review while driving. Hint: If you have trouble with some aspect of the course … move on and often as the context evolves, what caused you difficulty will sort out in your mind.
    Podcasts in general are also a useful way to expand knowledge and awareness while driving.

  • The way I cope with traffic jams is to listen to something useful which I can learn from. For instance why don’t you get yourself an audio cd for practical language learning? That’s how I’m currently learning arabic.

  • It is relative because when I had a short commute I found I was not reading as much as I would like. Ipod if you use public transportation, Ipod with speaker if you use your car. Download educational podcasts and audiobooks. The Teaching Company, though expensive, makes full College Courses on DVD, taught by professors.

  • I now work from home so often don’t have this problem. In the past I flexed my start time to avoid the rush hour to minimise the time spent travelling. I did this on a daily basis but know others who find working 4 longer days has the same impact. When I do commute now I do tend to save up my DVD’s of books and listen to them.
    I know the commute can act as a great buffer between work and home. I do wonder if I miss that time to think and just be rather than sitting here at the pc at 6 in the morning just because I got up – or still be here at 10 at night because I can.
    I do think we do have more choices than we think re flexible working and the reasons / excuses we give for not exploring them are often simply based on fear and mistrust rather than logic.
    I remember one response to a question many months ago when someone was moving and was considering working from home so they could keep their job. The response from their employer wasn’t favourable. Not because they couldn’t to the job remotely but because they weren’t trusted. And it wasn’t them personally not being trusted but people generally – anyone working from home couldn’t be trusted to do their work. I personally find the Hoover, washing machine and post man a lot less distracting than the coffee machine and other colleagues. Although LinkedIn does try it’s best but I suppose that would be no different in the office.
    I facilitated a session recently on how to make 2010 a year to remember and wonder if the output from that may offer us some insight here too:
    Mentor: Flexibility
    Insight: I model my values at work
    Setback: “If I’m not winning, I find it hard to celebrate anyone else’s success”
    Insight: I’m willing to bear the discomfort involved in shifting perspective
    Mentor: Optimism
    They certainly seem to resonate for me. More on this can be found on my blog. I hope it’s triggered something for you.

  • I see that the answers so far neglect a few sectors – manufacturing, food processing, and medical services for examples. You can’t telecommute to the factory. Even in the information age, somebody has to MAKE iphones, sausages, and the car you commute in, and someone has to tend the diagnostic devices.
    There are ways to make commutes more friendly: Live closer, car-pool, negotiate 4-day weeks with one of them at home for paperwork, and the most important, city planning.
    Our current mess in the U.S. started after WWII. Returning soldiers wanted jobs that the women held during the war, and the social compromise was to give the women a different dream.. their own house. Identical assembled houses on cheap land outside of town fit the need, and the factories that were building tanks and jeeps cranked out cars. Soon, markets and entertainment moved to the suburbs, followed by small business and factories supported by the new population centers. Then the permanent job tradition died, and people needed another job – which was likely on the other side of downtown. Ergo, traffic jams circling in both directions, supported by plentiful cars and cheap gas.
    It’s over, and we need to return to a different lifestyle: Dense living in cities and rural areas turned over to farming and cottage industries and telecommuters.

  • To me it is all in how you look at it, all your perspective. If you see a long commute as just having to get from point ‘a’ to point ‘b’ then you are, in my opinion, loosing out on the larger picture.
    How many of us would LOVE to have force upon us 2 hours a day of time where we had to be alone, out of the office (or home) where we were forced to have time to contemplate what we were going to do for the rest of the time we had after that hour? Or given that much time to read (listen) to a book that we have been meaning to get to, or to just enjoy some of our favorite music?
    Yes, it can be a pain when traffic gets bad, or the weather is poor, but I think for the most part many of us have shifted our perspective to thinking that times like that are wasted when in reality it is US that decides to waste the time we have been handed.
    Sure, it COULD be time that we wanted to spend with family or friends, but in reality, if we leverage travel time correctly then we can make use of other time in productive ways, so you could look at travel time as a challenge to ourselves to think about a way to use our time more productively, a lesson in proper time management if you will, rather than having it stolen from us.
    One thing that I have done in the past is use this time to write blog entries or jot down notes about blogs that I wanted to write. Many of us really want to start doing this and never can seem to find the time to actually sit down at home and write things down, but the car is a perfect place to do it. Get a digital voice recorder and start recording what your thoughts are about what you want to write, then get home, listen and edit. Takes less time that way and could be really productive. You might even get lucky and try using some speech-to-text apps to just playback and enter your notes into your computer then edit that way. It might be a great way to start using your ‘idle’ time. Sure, people next to you on the road might see you talking to yourself but what the heck, how cares. You are being productive, and they are just swearing at the traffic.

  • I put my production studios on my ranch so I can commute by foot… 😉 If I need to go to a client-site I hope on a fast, smooth jetBike and have a blast traveling up/down the coast… 😉 Happy Holidays. Walls.

  • We’ve created a monster which operates mainly in the rush hour. We have a transport infrastructure which years ago Mumford referred to as “a space eater”. Whilst it gives people the choice of sitting in their own bubble and parking in their own space, it also allows them the opportunity to ‘enjoy’ sitting in a photo-chemical smog, before getting out and walking in that same smog to their place of work. If you take the millions of acres of green space it absorbs, principally to allow people to get to and from work and the supermarket, it becomes even more difficult to justify. Traffic speeds in London are on a par with horse-drawn transport from the Edwardian era. At 12mph – what price alleged speed and convenience?
    We are forestalling the invevitable. The public transport option will come back and with it our propensity to deal with our fellow humans rather than shut ourselves away from them in our private alienated space.
    Choice isn’t always a good idea and too much choice is just inane. Don’t believe me? Who needs 20 different types of toothpaste? Who needs to sit in a traffic jam when they could be travelling on a more rapid transport system?
    For various different reasons the public transport system will have to be made to work.

  • Great question Zohaib.
    My home is my workplace, some kind of portable workstation, so I don’t get traveling stress everyday which results in better production, since I’m graphic designer, such things mean so a lot and don’t burst my inspiration that is extremely needed when creating some master designs.
    From other hand, I have to travel just like others do, for going on meetings etc. This is really frustrating, and yes, looking at all that pollution makes me think “where is going our beautiful world?”
    Idea about teleporting is perfect solution that I would like to see very very soon.
    How to save time and energy on this “gaps” of our everyday activity?
    1st of all, we must seek perfection, specially in traffic where every driver drives different way, it is like ant farm, so crossed but yet it functions, some new inventions could help us speed up traveling process, for example, cars that drive themself, why not?
    Tuning up our time to as much as precise as possible, I REALLY dislike when someone is late even 5 min, I always “Squeeze” my day activities into some time very precisely(with all those gadgets around this is even easier)so I have time for my private life.
    Stress, our worst enemy on work, I don’t have special tips on this, but I don’t rush myself, I don’t doubt myself, I am cold as ice and I always follow “If I finish, I finished, If i don’t so what, it’s not the end of the world” so I win over stress and actually deal with my work faster than if I would show my worries. Few days ago, I got myself worried after long time that I might left one part of my knowledge aside-game development, I sat to create some fast made custom game just to test myself, and I couldn’t belive it, it just went so neatly, and within 2 h I made small 2d game that shows no difference from my known skills, and even shows advancement, this made me happy, and a bit sorry that I doubted my self(It happens to everyone) after so a lot of time. Now I move on. I have to finish so a lot work before Jan 1st, and I don’t stress at all.
    If you have a lot of stress, try my method, I hope it is helpful.
    Kindest regards.

  • I am almost finished my doctorate, thanks to public transit. Between reading journal articles and my Blackberry, my commute is immensely productive! Cheers.. Rob

  • When most of your daily routine is handling PC’s, laptops and e-mail or even the usage of browsers, the best thing that KMO’s can do, is to rent private houses, transform them into office environments for up to 6 or 8 people, and make sure the travel of these employees is minimized as much as possible. That way, there is still a level of social monitoring/mentoring/contact and if need be, the time-window to travel to a more substantial hub with even more people can again be optimized. You could refer to it as the formation of “human clusters and sub-clusters”.

  • I do telecommute for one of my jobs, but with the day job, I commute with my husband. It’s nice having the extra time together and saving the money on gas.

  • I make it exciting by waiting until the last moment to leave, so traffic has abated somewhat, then I gun it. But you’re right: it’s a drag. Then, to add to the indignity, your workplace charges you a monthly fee for the privilege of parking on its premises.

  • If you have a bad communute, you are probably not happy. Many people do not need to wonder if their commute is ruining their lives; its obvious. Some people justify the commute by telling themselves that the job is great and do not want to the pay. But, you would be saving more money moving closer to home than as oppose to spending it on higher gas prices. If you live close to a public transit station that is a good way to save time and money too. You can spend time doing paperwork, catch up on reading, listening to music or taking extra time to catch up on your sleep.
    If commute is the only way, play soft music or music of your choice that pumps you up; listen to motivational cd’s; learning new languages;etc.
    You might as well make the ride enjoyable.

  • I commute via bus from very near my home to midtown Manhattan, about an hour each way. It’s my best time for uninterrupted reading, except when I’ve had a tough day–then I sometimes nap on the trip home.

  • I am fortunate in that I do much of my work from a home office. I carpool with my adult daughter several days each week.

  • 1) Relocate
    2) Buy a Sony Ericsson W-series walkman phone. Also subscribe to RSS feeds in it. The music or recitals will refresh your mind while the RSS will let you know what you want to know of the world.
    P.S. yes, i don’t reco iphone

  • I take public transportation about an hour each way. I use that time to read newspapers or books, work on my journal, meditate, or sleep. The trick is to wake up before I wind up in Brooklyn.
    Actually, I don’t mind it. I get a seat on the subway and ease into the day. Coming home, I decompress (and get a seat).

  • During commutes, more and more I have found myself just turning off the radio and paying attention to the landscape as I traverse it. The highways in New Jersey have magnificent hawks on treetops every mile or so (in some stretches). I seem to be able to spot them easily, and it’s still a visual treat. Also, large vultures occasionally lazily ply the sky.
    I stay in the right hand lane while driving almost all of the time, so that I have a ‘bail-out’ option to the shoulder, which comforts me, as I do not trust the common sense or acuity of fellow drivers as a mental habit. While in that lane, I derive esthetic pleasure from modifying my speed so as to let incoming drivers smoothly and safely enter the roadway. Somebody has to do it, and I willingly do so.
    (btw: that usage of ‘ply’ is about the fifth or sixth most common usage, meaning ‘to float’ in my application of it).

  • Get a smart phone or iPod-like device, load it up with audio books + podcasts. Pick shows and books that interest you.
    Things like these changed my life… you will never have any downtime, ever.

  • Zohaib:
    I logged on to see whether I could find my answers to the foes I too face in my daily commute!
    And I realize, the best way to cope is to sit back and enjoy that time doing what you like the most. Accept that commute is part of your routine. I don’t subscribe to views like relocate closer…really, is it that easy? I mean, finding a house closer to work? For people like me in Mumbai, having a house by itself to live in is a blessing…forget about the proximity.
    I am not sure whether you have found your answer at Linkedin…but I would be interesting in knowing your synopsis nevertheless.

  • I read an eBook years ago about Innovation and Ideas. The context covered ways to cultivate creatively and generate new ideas. One of the suggestions was to try as many different routes as possible on your commute. The writer noted that either they or someone being written about, I can’t remember, had taken an alternate route to work each day for I believe many years! Sometimes going significantly out of the way to get to his normal destination. In doing so the writer says the experience will expose you to different sights and you’ll see new places. The change will create an atmosphere of discovery and expanded knowledge. You’ll be challenged to try new things and probably act a bit bolder and adventurous.
    Practicing such a radical new routine will mean you may be actually be spending more time on the road but it will also break the monotony and who knows what you’ll find.

  • once a week, tele-commute
    once a week, use public transportation
    once a week, go to office
    once a week, tell people to get work, not meet at one place and pretend to get work done
    this has helped me save a bit, but then i drive a SUV to cancel all possible savings away. anomalies, my friend, anomalies…

  • I’d be the worst person to reply cos i dont go anywhere without my driver. but otherwise i think music or a book are the best stress relievers and travel partners. Also I live 5 mins away from my work place so that works for me too. But this is a coincidence and I would never encourage anyone to look for jobs near their homes.
    I hate waking up for work….actually I hate waking up at all. What works is a pleasant alarm, switching on your favourite sound and listening to it a while, saying Bismillah and telling yourself, this will be a great day. Maybe our mistake is to wake up and only think about going to work and our task list. Maybe we need a wake up message to tell ourselves.
    Today I woke up with a close friend’s text from US, we ended up talking on the phone for an hour and half and before leaving for work I was telling myself-it feels like a good day today.
    Am back in the same rut I have been in for more than 5 years and now being my last days here, its not so great being here but you know what-it feels like a good day 🙂

  • As an individual you choose where you want to live based on your personal requirement in life and the money you have in your pocket. Usual its a none fact that the best business location are no where near the best residential areas. Just a fact of life. The commute is accepted as part of our lives. Its not just work everyone commutes kids as well.

  • Unfortunately, too often work IS a bad place to go. All of us doing it at the same time is madness and in no way makes sense in a global, connected world. I work remotely part time and in a real world B&M class room part of the time. Only the latter requires commuting and Monday mornings are simply the pits. The best I can offer is audio… and leaving as miuch time as possible. But frankly I think it’s insane.

  • Padric O'Rouark

    My answer is, Do away with pointless primitave technology such as time clocks. Allow flex time or more telecommuting. Yes, I dream of working in my bunny slippers at home.
    Meanwhile I have a cursing commute and parking nightmare and cannot use public transportation because of excessive overtime.

  • Angela Koutrotsios

    I applied for something precisely because it was a 10-15 minute drive from home.
    Oh, is it niiiiiiiice to get home fast. : )
    Move to an area near a business district. Life is so much better that way.

  • Judith Angell

    Non-rush hours travel time when going to the office (usually ahead of it), telecommute when possible/appropriate. Keeps time to a minimum and I listen favorite music, speakers or books when driving (or when not, too).

Leave a Reply