My forth post on how to make more time will focus on one of my most hated time consumers: Traffic. One of the painstaking problems of our modern lives is commuting. Getting stuck in traffic is a complete waste of time. On average Americans spend almost 40 hours a year in traffic. These numbers are much higher for people working in bigger cities. Just half an hour wasted on traffic back and forth, each day, quickly accumulates to 5 precious hours a week.
I personally literally hate traffic. I get frustrated simply by thinking of all the other things I could have been doing instead. I have tried everything to make the best use of time spent in traffic. Here are my tips:
1. Avoid it – An obvious start. Get up early, get back home earlier or later. Avoiding traffic altogether is the best possible remedy. You’re obviously not reading this to be told to avoid traffic but if you take the time to think of it and try and change your daily routine you just might be able to save that time.
I used to jog in the evening as I’m not a morning person. After considering the potential benefits I try to get up early and jog twice a week at the gym at work. I directly translate the time saved on traffic to time put to good use exercising.
2. Don’t take useless shortcuts – We find driving much more comforting then standing in traffic regardless of time spent. If you’ve ever timed a traffic jam you must have noticed it took less time then it felt. Standing in traffic 10 minutes seems like forever. But it is better to sit out a traffic jam then taking a 15 minute shortcut (saving money otherwise spent on fuel as well).
3. Make phone calls with a purpose – Have a list of phone “chores” handy and use the time spent in traffic to make them. Close open ends, get back to people and manage. Try and avoid spending other people’s time just because you’re bored. They’ll catch on to that quickly enough.
4. Learn another language, listen to an audio book or audio guide – I myself bought “Learn German in Your Car” CD’s and I listen to them, lesson by lesson. You won’t be fluent in another language by listening to CD’s in your car but it makes for good practice and a good basic understanding for business trips. Interested in how to take better care of your garden or modern western philosophy? Everything is available on CD’s.
5. Use the time to reflect – One of my least favorites but it might be just me. Have some issues handy that need some thinking. Turn your radio off and just think. Have a pen and paper handy and write (or record) your thoughts.
6. Use the time to shave, put on make up or read the morning paper – Another one of my least favorites and should only be done when traffic stands still. Shave or put on make up to save precious morning time. However, please make sure you have the proper coordination first.
7. Get a PDA – Using a PDA can really help you save time in traffic. Delay some organizing chores and complete them in traffic. Browse over your calendar, your tasks and get organized.
8. Ride bicycles or use alternate means of transportation – I think you have probably considered this but add the money saved on your car and reduced pollution to your considerations. Riding a bicycle to work can be great as you save time and get an exercise at once. If possible I highly recommend adopting it as you double the time saved and even save money (you just need a shower at work).
9. Live closer (or work from home) – One of the considerations I had in mind when I bought my apartment was location. Not just the famous triple saying but also how much time will I save on traffic. Economically speaking time spent in traffic is lost utility. Determine how much your time is worth to you and you can translate that to dollars and cents invested in closer property.
10. Carpool – This won’t save you time in traffic but if you select good partners you can get some brain storming and work done.