Commuting and Wasted Time

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It’s no secret that I commute a rather long ways (measured by time, not distance) to work every morning. By way of bus it’s 80 minutes. By way of car, it’s 45. The distance is only 20 miles. To some, that’s a lot. I know people that have never commuted more than 20 minutes in any one direction in their life. I envy them.

I envy them because long commutes steal life from creativity, drain the energy from what makes us get up in the morning and want to do what we do, give us motivation to continue long term, and make us wish ever more that the weekend would just hurry up and get here.

One thing that’s likely changing after our move to the Bay Area in a couple months is commuting. We only have one car, and that works for us. After we land, we plan on keeping it that way. Fortunately, we’ve found an area that will allow us to keep the cheap public transit option in play and the need for a second car at bay.

Except this time it’ll be the other way around.

I’ve taken the bus to work for the last three years. Before that, I used to drive into work. I had to be at work at 5AM, so there weren’t many busses that ran from where I was coming from that early. After a shift in location, the bus became an option and we rolled with it.

As each year passed, taking the bus to and from work became gradually easier.

And again this year, it will become easier, still.

There’s a point to all this that I’m trying to make.

I can’t name one person who wouldn’t want a shorter commute. We strive for those extra minutes of sleep. We strive for those extra minutes of being home with our families before sleep. See how odd that is? In the morning, we want nothing more than to sleep in. In the evening, we want nothing more than to be awake to do stuff or e with our families and friends.

Why is there so much prejudice toward the morning?

Everybody’s a morning person, whether they want to admit it or not. I used to believe I wasn’t a morning person, then I started waking up between 4-4:30 am not to go to work, but to write. I started doing something I found interesting and stimulating, and now I do it every week day. The weekends aren’t quite the same, but I’m still up before most people my age.

I used to laugh at the idea of being a morning person. Around that same time, I used to get up at noon, too. I always had an inkling in the back of my mind that I really wanted to be up before the sun and be productive before the Today Show started on the east coast, but I didn’t really understood what that took.

Now, I think I do. I’m not a master of that, yet, as there are still days—like this one—where I falter a bit. With those trick days, it’s important to still try and stick to the routine as much as possible.

Over the last couple of days, I’ve been a bit behind in the mornings and end up doing my writing on the first of two legs of my morning bus journey. Since I usually have ideas already ready to go, putting the words down isn’t very difficult and can be done with little effort. The problem I’m facing now is that I’m getting used to that idea, and that’s not what I want, at all.

When I started this blog in January, the goal was first to just write a few days a week, then it was to create something every day. Both iterations of that goal involved a routine. I talked briefly about hacking my sleep routine—or whatever the startup kids say these days—to make it more qualitatively productive instead of quantitative. That’s been the hardest part throughout all this. As much as I try, I can’t always get to bed at the same time.

Unless I force myself. As I discussed in an earlier post today, one of the things that makes us pro is not rolling with the punches (that’s avoidance), but rather instilling discipline in ourselves. Discipline surrounding every aspect of our lives. We cannot be disciplined in only one area of our lives, but all.

To bring this back around to commutes, like I was originally discussing, long commutes suck but they only suck because they’re not being used to their full potential. Sleeping on the bus is not a productive use of your time. If you can’t sleep in, go to bed earlier. If you can’t go to bed earlier, go to bed at a decent time and wake up at a time in which you’re sleeping at your lightest. It might suck if that time is an hour earlier than what you wanted. If that’s the case, deal with it.

Being flexible is part of the gig. Also sticking to your guns. And discipline. If you get up at the last minute because you want those “extra snoozes” (which are useless, by the way), you’re doing yourself a disservice. Find your light sleep time and get up with that. Do your typical morning routine and when you’re done, see how much extra time you have. Put that time to good use. Do what I do and write a blog post. Or don’t, it doesn’t matter. Just do something besides sit around and watch the news.

And the kid excuse doesn’t work. if your kids are a distraction in the morning, wake up before them. They need more sleep than you, so you don’t have much of an excuse, there.

We blame our long commutes for not having enough time to do things, yet we some how seem to be able to make time on one side of them, every single day. If we made time on the other side of them, we wouldn’t be complaining. When I get off this bus, I’m done with this task. I’m moving on to another. I’ve established this time for the purpose of writing and that’s that.

If I can do this, you can, too.