Congratulations! You’ve found your new dream home. It has all the amenities you and your family want to make the most of life. However, you might be hesitating. What if it’s a long way from your job? Should the specter of a long commute stop you from buying the home you really want?
A long commute is rarely a bonus for a homeowner. It causes stress, takes a bit out of your precious time, and contributes to pollution. In 2016 the Washington Post reported that between 1980 and 2014, the average commute increased by 20 percent! Not only that, but nearly 17 percent of Americans have a commute 45 minutes or longer.
In 2014, Time Magazine reported that commuting raises blood sugar and cholesterol after just 10 minutes. You also risk weight gain because of the stress and inactivity. Devoting a big chunk of your day to driving may affect your personal relationships, too. A 2013 report called “Til Work Do Us Part: The Social Fallacy of Long-Distance Commuting” examined the effects of commuting on Swedish couples between 1995 and 2005. It showed higher divorce rates for couples who endured extended commute times.
So if you find yourself with a long commute, you’re not alone. But that doesn’t mean you just have to just accept it. Here are some ways to cope with the distance between work and home-sweet-home.
4 Tips to Avoid a Long Commute
One of the best ways to handle with long drive times is to avoid them altogether. With a flexible employer, you may be able to switch things up. Consider these ideas:
- Try Working From Home. Over the past five to ten years, telecommuting has become very popular. In fact, in a 2017 study of telecommuting workers, Flexjobs and Global Workplace Analytics found that nearly 4 million workers in the United States (approximately 2.9 percent of the workforce) work from home at least part-time. Many employees find that they get more done without coworker interruptions. Also, sometimes working outside of an office can boost productivity and enjoyment of the work.
- Adjust Your Working Hours. If you run a company or manage a team, you might reconsider work hours for everyone. Offer everyone the chance to work four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days. Or, adjust hours earlier or later to avoid the peak of rush hour. Employees with kids in school may appreciate a schedule more in synch with their kids’.
- Find a Spot Closer to Home for Meetings. If you usually meet clients or partners at the office, reconsider. Perhaps they work or hold meetings in locations closer to your home than work. If so, find a location that’s convenient for everyone. A coffee shop can work, or try a shared office space.
- Consider Public Transit or Carpooling. This won’t shorten a long commute, but it will allow you to do other things. Catch up on email, prep for meetings, or take some time for yourself and catch up on reading. If you’re part of a carpool, take the opportunity to indulge in a little bit of social time before and after work.
4 Tips For a More Enjoyable and Productive Commute
If you can’t avoid the drive altogether, there are a few things that you can do to make the task more enjoyable and productive:
- Unplug from Technology. Many of today’s smartphones are equipped with a do-not-disturb function that kicks on when a car is in motion. Take advantage of that and allow yourself to enjoy the travel.
- Change your Route. The freeway might offer the most direct route, but it could take longer in traffic. Look for alternate routes where you move more freely and even see some more attractive sights than endless tail lights. Experiment with alternating routes on different days. The change will keep you alert and interested.
- Prepare for Meetings or Presentations. Giving a presentation when you get to work? Have a big meeting? When you’re stuck in the car, go over your speech or talking points. Or simply review your to-do list for the day and prioritize so you get a head start on the day.
- Play Some Tunes. No matter how long your commute, music can lessen the stress of that person cutting you off. Load up a playlist with your favorite music and don’t be afraid to belt out a few bars if you get the urge. Singing helps to counteract the increases in blood pressure that obnoxious drivers might inspire.
Work-life balance is crucial. So when you make a big lifestyle change like moving to a new house, make sure you maintain that balance. Keep your commute from “driving” you crazy.