Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Why I love my new, 105-minute commute

Until earlier this month, I worked at an office just 1.5 miles from my house. It was three stoplights away. Last week, I took a new job in downtown Seattle - not significantly farther as the crow flies but a LOT farther from a commute standpoint.

So I'm a commuter bus rider now - 45 minutes in the morning, and close to an hour in the evening. And you know what? I love it.

OK, maybe I could make a list of things I'd rather do with those nearly two hours than sit on a bus, but the opportunity that time affords me is pretty cool. Some reasons and examples:

More Productivity
Rather than sit in my own car, using up fossil fuels and wearing out my break pads, I let someone else do the driving for me. That lets me focus on whatever I want to - read a book, edit documents, catch up on email cached on my laptop, etc. It gives me time to ramp into my day in the morning, and time to catch up on stuff that go away from me in the afternoon. And it lets me step off the bus in the evening ready to enjoy time at home.

Less Stress
Why bother with all that stop-and-go traffic directly? It'll only add more stress to my life. The bus is relatively predictable. I know when it'll pick me up, and thanks to carpool lanes it's highly predictable on the destination side as well. And all I do is sit back and do whatever I want in between.

More Discipline
If I want to be home by six, I need to leave the office at five. For me, that creates a significant level of discipline I'm not really used to. It also forces me to make smarter decisions about how to use my time in the office, especially as the afternoon wears on, and be ready to maximize that hour in the bus to get "leftovers" done before getting home.

What's interesting about my new commute isn't just what I'm doing with those 105 minutes each day. It's how that commute has affected the rest of my life. Because I have to catch a bus at night, I'm more disciplined and focused - and more productive - at the office. Because I can get more work done on the way home, I'm more apt to relax and re-energize when I get home (vs. just doing more work, not sleeping well, etc.).

So, sure, the six-minute commute was nice. But this new commute ain't bad either.


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