Some people have the privilege of working from home, but for the rest of us, the daily commute can be a four-letter word. Driving in rush hour traffic is not only no fun; it can increase your overall stress levels and lead to decreased job satisfaction.
If you’ve been feeling trapped in your car, here are four ways that can help make a long commute feel shorter and maximize your time:
1. Avoid freeways
Yes, really. Sometimes it’s not about the speed you travel but the consistency of that speed. Sure, you can go fast on the highway, but if you’re in bumper-to-bumper traffic 70 percent of the time, start hunting for an alternate route on secondary roads.
Even if the alternate route doesn’t end up saving you time, it will help save your sanity—to say nothing of wear and tear on your brakes from the constant stop-and-go of a crowded highway. You won’t miss the reckless lunatics trying to merge at the last minute, either.
2. Change your hours
I cut my travel time by changing the hours I’m in the office—and on the road. Now I get to work earlier, avoiding the worst of the morning traffic, and leave earlier, avoiding the worst of the evening traffic.
If schedule-tweaking isn’t an option, look for creative ways to land ideal commuting times. Drive close to your office to work out early in the morning and avoid the traffic that way. Stay after work to have dinner close by, or do an activity with friends until the traffic clears out a bit. Just a few minutes can make the difference of an extra hour in some heavily trafficked metro areas.
3. Be productive
Looking for ways to make your commute a productive period will help the time go faster. Consider listening to a book on tape or a lecture, or catch up on the news or sports on the radio. This is a double-edged sword, though; you don’t want to become distracted and have an accident.
If you enjoy reading or can even get time-saving work done, this is where taking public transportation, even if inefficient, might actually be a bonus. Consider: is it better to waste 40 minutes in your car or spend 60 minutes on the bus, where you can read, work or get other things done?
4. Work from home, even just a little
Many jobs can be done online or somewhere other than an office. Negotiate with your boss, asking to work from home one or two days a week. Explain how you’ll organize your time and be efficient—and then stick to the plan you lay out. What’s in it for your boss? A happier, less stressed-out employee.
How do you make the most of your commute?
Jason Miner works with blogcarnival.com, where he helps make the world an even better place for bloggers.