Yes, you read that right. Actually enjoy your time in traffic! Not just endure it.
Are you tired of feeling irritated standing in barely moving rows of cars every day? Tired of getting annoyed by someone cutting you off? Tired of feeling like you’re pouring hours a week down the drain on your commute? Or are you just generally tired of wasting time in traffic no matter what the circumstances? Then I might just have a useful suggestion for you.
How much time do we spend in traffic?
First, a little calculation: if you live just 1 hour away from your place of work, that means that:
You spend 2 hours a day commuting.
That adds up to 10 hours a (work)week.
That means 40 hours a month.
Which adds up to on average 480 hours a year.
Now imagine you maintain this average your entire working life. And let’s say you work for 50 years. That means you will spend 24.000 hours or 2,7 years of your life in traffic. And that is if you live only 1 hour away from work… and not taking into account the traffic jams that can easily double or triple this time on some days.
This example is just about commuting. There are of course a myriad of other reasons to be in your car for a significant amount of time. Family visits, dropping a friend at the airport and the list goes on and on. The amount of time we spend in our cars is a very significant amount.
When I realized this…I decided that I was done wasting this time getting annoyed or at best just listening to some music. I decided to make this lost time, into me-time. Into learning- and self-improvement time. And so can you.
Our most valuable asset
Time is, without a doubt, our most valuable asset. Time is the only thing that we can never get back. We should strive to use ours in a way that we don’t ever feel it was wasted. Getting the most out of life relies solely on us making the best use of our time and spend it on what we feel is worth this most scarce commodity we have.
Of course, some time-investments are just a natural part of something else (like commuting, for example, we have to work, and we have to get there somehow). However, it doesn’t hurt to explore alternative ways to spend this “collateral time investment”. These ways can consist of either making changes to avoid “dead time” or reviving this dead time to make it time well-spent.
When looking at the example of commuting, this comes down to basically two options: change where you work or use your commuting time in a more useful way. If this whole COVID crisis has shown us anything it is that a lot of jobs are more flexible than we previously believed them to be. There is one workplace that has a zero-minute commute: your own home. This is surely an option that can be considered, but not for everyone. Using your time commuting in a meaningful way, however, can be done by anyone.
How can we use this in daily life?
PSA: of course, there is this little thing called “paying attention to traffic”. Paying attention to what’s going on around you should still be your number one priority. Under no circumstance should you pick something based on using your phone actively. Use audio only (and some common sense).
Even while driving no faster than a crawl in a traffic jam, it is still important to keep watching for that one motorcyclist slaloming through the rows. Therefore, some of the things I’ve found most suitable for in the car are:
Listening to an audiobook.
Listening to an educational podcast.
Listening (not watching) to a YouTube video.
Learning a language. (This one also adds the fun of seeing other people react to you mouthing the words you’re learning in your car.)
40 hours a month (that is one full workweek a month!) spent on any of these things will have an immeasurable impact on your life. Any second spent on personal growth is time well spent. The best thing is that you are using this otherwise “dead time” for something useful. Once you realize this, and especially once you see improvement in the areas you are using it for, you will start to enjoy your time in traffic. Even look forward to it. When I have a 2-3-hour drive coming up my first thought now is: “Nice! I can “read” at least three more chapters!”.
Of course, there is no shame in just relaxing on the way home after a day’s hard work, listening to your favorite tunes or radio talk show. I would however challenge you to look critically and consciously at this if you feel like you want to learn something new, but never seem to “have to the time”. In the end, it’s all about making the conscious choice to spend your time how you think you should, instead of doing things on autopilot, because you lack the awareness of alternative ways of looking at situations.
How do you guys spend your time in traffic? Do you have any other good suggestions on how to utilize this time to the fullest? Let me know below!