I’ve already talked about avoiding crowds and thereby getting the most done with the least amount of time and hassle. Today we’ll talk about traffic. Which I know is your favorite thing. (Obviously if you live and work way out in the country this post doesn’t really apply to you.)
Driving (or sitting) in traffic is simply one of the dumbest, most stressful, most wasteful things you can do. Not to mention all the gas you’re buying and then burning (gas mileage is very bad when your car is idling or stopping and starting). Also not to mention the wear and tear on your car and the environment.
You need to make sure that you only get in your car when you know traffic is at its lowest levels whenever possible.
How To Avoid Peak Traffic Times
1. This is the most valuable change you can make and you’ll be amazed at the stress it saves…if you can do it. Make a pact with yourself that you simply will not drive between the hours of 3:30pm and 6:30pm. I did this myself about two years ago. Not only was it much easier than I thought, I have never regretted it. I do everything possible to avoid setting appointments during this time frame.
If I absolutely have no choice, I will make sure to arrive at my destination before 3:30pm and/or wait after the appointment until 6:30pm before getting in my car. I will bring my laptop with me and just plant myself somewhere and get some work done. With just a few minutes of forethought, this system really works.
2. Develop a very good sense of peak traffic areas and avoid them. This is obvious of course, but a hell of a lot of very intelligent people don’t do this. Do it.
3. Force yourself to use the internet and/or telephone instead of personal visits. With today’s technology, almost everything can be done remotely online rather than in person. Resist the outdated urge to always hop into your car whenever you need to get something done. With services like email, Amazon, LogMeIn, Netflix, online banking, etc, a lot of the driving around you think is necessary really is not.
4. If you work a standard 8 – 5 job, and you work in a office on a computer, nicely but firmly lean on your boss hard to allow you to start telecommuting instead of driving in to work. Sit down with him/her and let them know that you are fully able to work remotely at home and be available via telephone just as if you were at your desk.
Make it clear to them you guarantee you will get more work done in less time if they allow this (which you will, unless you’re really screwing around). Also tell them that LogMeIn is a free service that does this, so it won’t cost them any money. If they balk, get them to try it just one day a week and see how it goes. Then increase to two days a week, etc.
If working from home isn’t feasible because of tangible paper or product flow, then fine. (Though a paperless office would be a better idea of course.) However if your boss is adamant about you driving into work every day just because he/she is old fashioned or a micro-manager, strongly consider getting a different job.
I am very serious about this. I know a lot of people who live in high-traffic cities like Los Angeles who spend TWO HOURS A DAY in their cars driving to and from their work, 80% or more of which could be done by telephone or remote computing. I’m sorry, but doing that five days a week, every week, for years on end? That’s just insane. If this describes you, you need to seriously re-evaluate what your life is all about.