Optimize the Commute

Commuting is a bitch. Last month, I spent 29.3 hours in my car driving to and from work. That’s a full day out of my month lost to driving. There are so many things I could do with that extra day. Worse, there were times in Los Angeles where I spent as much as 4 hours in my car going to and from work for a 24-mile round trip (that’s 6mph in traffic on the 10 freeway!). I dare not do the cumulative math on that one.

As a society, we lose so much time getting to work every day. To put things into perspective: if Denver’s average commute time is 23 minutes one way and working population is roughly 600,000, the city as a whole loses 52.5 man years per day to the streets. From another angle, that’s 57,500 eight-hour work days vaporized per day. Can you imagine what businesses, communities, and our government could accomplish with that much time?

When it comes to personal productivity, public transportation can work for people who find ways to use that time effectively. But when it comes to driving you’re own car, there’s not much you can do except sit there. I tune into NPR and make phone calls to catch up with people, but I wish I could get more done. Siri and other dictation applications are a step in the right direction, but they still have a long way to go.

A world without commuting is a utopian fantasy. Without question, people should live where they want to live or where they can afford to live. Working from home is a pleasant solution, but difficult for collaborative work. And while it was nice for me to walk to work every morning in Hollywood, there were also downsides to living so close to the office (like 2am phone calls from people who forgot their keys). Regardless, it’s worth extra money for me to live close so that I can help save that full day per month. I will hopefully make that change again soon. I just have to decide how much a day of my life is worth.

If you are forced to commute, do what you can to make that time worthwhile. For my fellow commuters out there, what do you do to make that time worthwhile? I need ideas.

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3 thoughts on “Optimize the Commute

  1. I listen to audio tapes on self improvement such as Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and The Master Key. Very good books written back in the 30’s i believe. I highly recommend them.

  2. I recommend getting one of the Google cars that will drive themselves when they hit market… 🙂

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