Well, you have probably noticed that most of my posts are cheerful and on the positive side because that is the kind of person that I am and if I find myself gearing in a different direction, I push myself back to happy land where it’s all sparkly and unicorns are pooping rainbows. My life is by no means perfect. I simply choose to focus on the positive, and that’s just me. BUT this morning I was reminded of how overly annoying commuting to work can be, and well hello here I am!
I feel truly blessed that just before baby no. 3 was born we were able to move to the south bay. I am not particularly a fan of the heat that comes along with moving farther from SF by the mile, but it was a great opportunity for our family to live closer to our work and also to a nicer neighborhood so that was a no brainer for us. My commute went from spending 45 – 90 minutes during the morning commute to about 20 or less. My evening commute also improved from 1 to up to 2 hours in afternoon traffic to 15-20 minutes. You can see what a difference that is, right?! I always wished that I could have some of that time back to spend it in something that I love much more and need more of: working out! Seriously, seriously! When you are siting on a car for 1-2 hours every day and just listening to the radio to stay busy and possibly snacking on something unhealthy to keep you awake or in a good mood while you are driving 16 mph on I-880N, and you could instead use some of that time to do things you need like running, or lifting some weights, or attending a zumba class or yes even take a nap that would be great!
Now while I have gotten a significant amount of time back by moving closer to work, I am not spending that spare time on working out all the time but I am doing others things that are equally or even more important such as: sleeping more, walking my kids to school every morning (this is my favorite one), cooking dinner (ok this only happens sometimes but it sure counts!), taking the kids to after school classes, among other things. And it doesn’t end there. Before my husband and I would find ourselves mentally drained after a 90 minutes commute at the end of a work day. You come home, and all you want is to lay in your bed and take a nap. There are so many stupid drivers on the road, I am telling ya! After having to deal with many of them for a long time you don’t even want to deal with people when you get home. But, oh wait, that’s not a choice to me because I am parent and have little ones waiting for me. So needless to say those days were rough!
Now I get why people are moving away from the Bay and being forced into long commutes every day. The prices for rent have been spiking over the past years like crazy. Seriously! There was a craigslist ad that made it to the local news not too long ago. This person was charging $1000/month to rent his walk-in-closet in SF. His closet! The closet was big enough for a sleeping bag laid down and maybe a couple of suitcases for your stuff next to it. So it wasn’t big enough but was that a good deal? It actually was! I know it sounds ridiculous but ask anyone who lives in the Bay Area and will think it was quite affordable despite of the ironic joke behind it. The rent prices are off the roof! Real state is really no different. I am imagining $900K is the average price for a house in the bay and that barely gets you a 3 bedroom/ 2 bathroom townhouse so no, that is not a lot of land I am talking about! This clearly explains why people are moving east to Tracy and Stockton area where the house price is cut in half as well as the rent. You get more value for your money. I get it. But you also are forced to spend 1-2 hours in traffic each way every day… I don’t think I can do that!
It’s no joke to live in this beautiful area, with great weather, with such diversity, with safe neighborhoods (not every where but you get me), there is price for it. And don’t get me wrong, I absolutely, totally, completely understand some people are left with no choice than live miles away and have long commutes. Back to what got me thinking about this was a visit to my dentist which is located in the East Bay and since I only go every 6 months I figured it wasn’t too bad of a compromise. I had an early appointment too, at 7am. Was on the road back south by 7:30am. It took me a bit over 50 mins to drive 20 miles south during Friday morning commute which is typically light. That was crazy?! So what do you do when you have no choice but sit on traffic for a long period of time? This is where the good can come if you allow it.
When I had the long commuteI wished there could be a way that we could make the most out of this “down” time. Sitting on a car for 2 hours that instead I wished I could go to the gym since when I got home I had no time… but wait a minute, there is something you can do! Actually, there are many things that can be done and I failed to consider before:
- You can listen to audio books during this time! Knowledge is power my friends. The more educated we are, the stronger professionals we are. The stronger professionals we are the better our reputation gets. The better our reputation gets the more teams want us as part of theirs. Boom! Amazon has great audio choice called audible. Look into that. Sure we can memorize Beyonce’s new lyrics during this time, but if you can instead use that time to create more value for yourself better yet.
- Listen to books of the things that interest you, or the things that you should be learning more about such as industry-related stuff. I am such a half-full-glass gal and I like motivational books so I have gotten some of those for me now. My commute might be less but I have now learned the value of every second of my time. I try to make the most of it. Learning on your drive to work, that’s a great way to turn a dreadful commute into a productive one!
- You can go to they gym by your work and get on the road later when the traffic is less. This only works for so many people, but if your responsibilities allow it, and by that I mean you have no kids or a good backup system, go to a class while waiting for traffic to die down a bit.
- You can go to school after work and improve your skills! Find a community college close to your work and sign up for an evening class. Most start around 5pm. Go to school and learn a new trade or improve your current skills or learn a new language. Remember, we have to invest in ourselves first. The more you know, the better, trust me.
- If your employer has flexibility ask about modifying your work hours. You might need to start much earlier but that means you can go home before traffic starts which means you will get there faster. Or you can ask about coming in later and waiting for evening traffic to die down to head home. Don’t be afraid to ask. You might think you don’t have a choice but sometimes we don’t have it because we didn’t ask for it.
Well, hopefully this helps you a bit if you are one of the many with a long commute. Try to make the most of it. I know is hard but let’s stay always positive. Shall we?