Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 1, Issue 31;   August 1, 2001: Enjoy Your Commute

Enjoy Your Commute


You probably commute to work. On a good day, you spend anywhere from ten minutes to an hour or two — each way — commuting. What kind of experience are you having? Taking control of this part of your life can make a real difference.
Two cyclists commute to work at the U.S. Federal Highway Administration

Two cyclists commute to work at the U.S. Federal Highway Administration?s Washington Division Office in Olympia, Washington. Photo courtesy U.S. Federal Highway Administration.

Most of us in the U.S. commute in our cars, doing fairly routine things like steering, accelerating, and braking. We have a lot of brainpower to spare. By concentrating fully, and taking only a few white-knuckle risks, you can probably reduce your commute by 5% or so. That seems hardly worth it, when balanced against the increased risk of collision and injury. So what can you do instead?

The obvious choices are radio and audio recordings. Here are some less obvious choices:

Commute with other people
Commuting with one or two friends — people you enjoy — can be most rewarding. The opportunities for humor, fun, support, and compassion are endless. If you're concerned about getting "stuck" day after day with someone you've grown tired of, arrange it as a once-weekly or once-monthly gig, which gives you enough space between times to keep things fresh and interesting. And it lets you team up with other people too, on other days.
Learn while you commute
Listening to audio recordings of professional books and training programs can convert your commute time from a black hole to a high point of your day. If you're learning new skills, and if the program is interesting and well done, you'll actually begin to look forward to your commute.
Hang up your cell phone
Telephone conversations are best when you can give your partner in conversation your full attention. Listening to audio recordings as you commute is different — you can always pause the tape or backtrack if you need your full attention for the world around you. But you can't pause another person, so if your driving demands your attention, the person you're talking to feels your inattentiveness.
Find entertainment you enjoy
Talking on your cell
phone while you drive
isn't just dangerous.
It's disrespectful —
people can tell
when your attention
is divided.
High quality entertainment, especially humor, can be a valuable defense against traffic snarls and the worries of the job. Look for entertainment that captivates you. If your mind wanders to your worries, or the rude drivers around you, your entertainment isn't doing the job — find something else.
Carry a pocket tape recorder
If you think of something you want to jot down, speak it instead into a pocket tape recorder. It's much safer and more convenient than a note pad, especially if you're driving.
Go for variety
Variety keeps you tuned in to the world around you. Vary your route, departure time, and transportation mode. If you usually drive, take the train once in a while if you can. If you usually take the fastest route, try a more scenic one.

Looking over this list, I feel a twinge of regret that my own commute is so short — 38 seconds. But it's just a twinge, and it passes quickly. Go to top Top  Next issue: Don't Rebuild the Chrysler Building  Next Issue

Rick BrennerThe article you've been reading is an archived issue of Point Lookout, my weekly newsletter. I've been publishing it since January, 2001, free to all subscribers, over the Web, and via RSS. You can help keep it free by donating either as an individual or as an organization. You'll receive in return my sincere thanks — and the comfort of knowing that you've helped to propagate insights and perspectives that can help make our workplaces a little more human-friendly. More

Your comments are welcome

Would you like to see your comments posted here? rbrenljybEdPdZtflOgEFner@ChacCEZKgstllrZzyLUuoCanyon.comSend me your comments by email, or by Web form.

About Point Lookout

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful, and that you'll consider recommending it to a friend.

Point Lookout is a free weekly email newsletter. Browse the archive of past issues. Subscribe for free.

Support Point Lookout by joining the Friends of Point Lookout, as an individual or as an organization.

Do you face a complex interpersonal situation? Send it in, anonymously if you like, and I'll give you my two cents.

Related articles

More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:

A Mastodon skeletonLearn from the Mastodon
Not long ago, Mastodons roamed North America in large numbers. Cousins to the elephant, they thrived in the cool, sub-glacial climate. But the climate warmed, and human hunters arrived. The Mastodon couldn't adapt, and now it's extinct. Change is now coming to your profession. Can you adapt?
A MetronomeSelling Uphill: The Pitch
Whether you're a CEO or a project champion, you occasionally have to persuade decision-makers who have some kind of power over you. What do they look for? What are the key elements of an effective pitch? What does it take to Persuade Power?
A sleeping dogRecovering Time: I
Where do the days go? How can it be that we spend eight, ten, or twelve hours at work each day and get so little done? To recover time, limit the fragmentation of your day. Here are some tips for structuring your working day in larger chunks.
Flourless chocolate cakeTwenty-Three Thoughts
Sometimes we get so focused on the immediate problem that we lose sight of the larger questions. Here are twenty-three thoughts to help you focus on what really counts.
Signers of the 1938 Munich AgreementHow to Reject Expert Opinion: I
When groups of decision-makers confront complex problems, they sometimes choose not to consult experts or to reject their advice. How do groups come to make these choices?

See also Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness for more related articles.

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

A Mustang GT illegally occupying two parking spaces at Vaughan Mills Mall, OntarioComing March 21: Narcissistic Behavior at Work: III
People who behave narcissistically tend to regard themselves as special. They systematically place their own interests and welfare ahead of anyone or anything else. In this part of the series we consider how this claimed specialness affects the organization and its people. Available here and by RSS on March 21.
Santa Claus arrives at 57th and Broadway in New York in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day ParadeAnd on March 28: Narcissistic Behavior at Work: IV
Narcissistic behavior at work is more damaging than rudeness or egotism. It leads to faulty decisions that compromise organizational missions. In this part of the series we examine the effects of constant demands for attention and admiration. Available here and by RSS on March 28.

Coaching services

I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenHbzzIyekfXvTAoaqner@ChacIEdeujLxgYvMuXfCoCanyon.com or (617) 491-6289, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.

Get the ebook!

Past issues of Point Lookout are available in six ebooks:

Reprinting this article

Are you a writer, editor or publisher on deadline? Are you looking for an article that will get people talking and get compliments flying your way? You can have 500 words in your inbox in one hour. License any article from this Web site. More info

Public seminars

The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
Many The Power Affect: How We Express Personal Powerpeople who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.

Follow Rick

Send email or subscribe to one of my newsletters Follow me at LinkedIn Follow me at Twitter, or share a tweet Follow me at Google+ or share a post Subscribe to RSS feeds Subscribe to RSS feeds
The message of Point Lookout is unique. Help get the message out. Please donate to help keep Point Lookout available for free to everyone.
Technical Debt for Policymakers BlogMy blog, Technical Debt for Policymakers, offers resources, insights, and conversations of interest to policymakers who are concerned with managing technical debt within their organizations. Get the millstone of technical debt off the neck of your organization!
52 Tips for Leaders of Project-Oriented OrganizationsAre your project teams plagued by turnover, burnout, and high defect rates? Turn your culture around.
Reader Comments About My Newsletter
A sampling:
  • Your stuff is brilliant! Thank you!
  • You and Scott Adams both secretly work here, right?
  • I really enjoy my weekly newsletters. I appreciate the quick read.
  • A sort of Dr. Phil for Management!
  • …extremely accurate, inspiring and applicable to day-to-day … invaluable.
  • More
101 Tips for Managing ConflictFed up with tense, explosive meetings? Are you the target of a bully? Learn how to make peace with conflict.
Ebooks, booklets and tip books on project management, conflict, writing email, effective meetings and more.
Comprehensive collection of all e-books and e-bookletsSave a bundle and even more important save time! Order the Combo Package and download all ebooks and tips books at once.