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Tips For A Better Commute


Most Americans see commuting as an unfortunate but unavoidable chore, as one of those parts of adult life one must suffer through. Not surprisingly, more and more people are focusing on ways to improve the time spent traveling to and from work. The Wall Street Journal has some tips for making this onerous daily task more tolerable:

A growing number of Americans have very long commutes, new national data show. While the average commute has remained unchanged at 25.5 minutes in recent years, those traveling more than an hour each way rose to 11.1 million in 2012, up 300,000 from 2011, says Alan Pisarski, a Falls Church, Va., transportation consultant and author of a series of national commuting studies. […]

While a growing number of people bike to work, it is small. More than 75% of commuters travel alone by car, Census data show. Driving is usually faster than mass transit. But it can add stress. In big cities, car commuters waste 52 hours a year stuck in traffic, according to the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, College Station, Texas. Mr. Pisarski adds, “A commuter who says, ‘This trip should take 20 minutes and it’s taking 30’ can get very frustrated.” The desire for predictability drives many commuters to switch to mass transit, says a 2011 study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania.

A shorter commute is generally preferable to a longer one; mass transit can be better than driving because it’s more predictable, and because it allows the commuter to focus on tasks other than driving (like reading, napping, or even working); having access to audio entertainment can help pass the time. Most of these findings pass the common sense test, and now social scientists are confirming them.

But there was one life tip glaringly absent in this WSJ piece: telework. In many ways, sticking ear buds in or choosing to ride public transportation are solutions to the symptoms of the underlying problem (the commute). Telework cuts out the commute entirely, and has a myriad of knock-on benefits: it can help you lose weight, save your sanity, strengthen your relationships, and make you richer. If you’ve got the kind of job that can be done remotely, we’d recommend you consider killing your commute entirely.

[Telecommuting image courtesy of Shutterstock]

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