I live on Long Island in NY and for the past 7.5 years I have commuted on the LIE Route 495, (number 3 of the 5 most congested roads in NY). For 6 of those years I commuted 80 miles round trip, an average of 2 hours per day. I am now commuting 60 miles round trip for an average of 1 hr and 15 min each day. This is still a long commute but after doing 2 hours for so long it actually feels like a break.
Ultimately the goal is to have no commute but in the interim I have tried many things to simplify my commute in an effort to make it more tolerable and I will continue to do so. Some things have worked and others have not. Below are the top 5 that have worked for me, in no particular order.
- I sold a large gas guzzling car and purchased a Toyota Prius because in NY certain Hybrid cars are permitted to drive in the HOV lane without a passenger. Plus I love the lighter impact the car has on the environment and the savings in gas. I tried commuting with someone for over a year but when that person left the company for a job closer to home I decided that as an introvert commuting alone was more preferable for me. When commuting with another person it is difficult to utilize the commute time for personal enjoyment (ie: listening to audio books or music) and unless your commuting partner has the same taste as you it can actually be unpleasant.
- I changed my hours from 9-5 to 10-6. This shaved off between 30-40 minutes per day on average from my commute when I was commuting 80 miles round trip. Negotiating this change from my then employer was not easy. It took me several years and a change in department. But I didn’t give up and I finally was able to change them. So do not give up. This change made a huge difference and when I changed jobs to simplify my life even more it was easy to negotiate this time schedule as part of my new position.
- I took a 20K pay decrease and gave up 5 weeks of vacation to shave off 20 miles and 30 minutes of commute time per day. I didn’t change jobs solely to lessen my commute, but it was one factor and it did fit in with my overall efforts to simplify my life.
- I use deep breathing as a relaxation technique when traffic is particularly frustrating. This does help significantly and I highly recommend.
- I utilize the commute time to learn something new, enjoy a good book, some favorite music or just to think. Having Bluetooth is also convenient for it permits me to take a call when necessary although I do try to keep phone use to a minimum while driving. I have come to view my commute time as time just for me plus it just isn’t safe to be distracted.
For almost a decade I worked within 3 miles from my home, 5 years I worked within less than a mile. At the time I had no idea how fortunate I was and I look forward to the day when I no longer have to commute. However in the interim I will continue to make the best of it by implementing the above techniques and any other that I discover to lessen the stress and monotony of commuting long distances in traffic.
I have high hopes for the future. I believe with the ability to work location independent the younger generations will demand this from employers all across the world which will not only eliminate the traffic problems but will do wonders for our beautiful environment and the quality of our lives.
What methods do you use to simplify something stressful in your life?