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A Thing Your Life Doesn't Need: A Long Commute

Below is an excerpt from my forthcoming book, 50 Things Your Life Doesn't Need.

#45 - A Long Commute

The average American spends over 100 hours a year getting to work. And more than three million of us spend over three hours getting to and from work. That time might be worth it if we liked where we were ending up.

Instead, we hop in cars and on trains to clock in and get to work. We complete tasks, schedule meetings, and do all that we can by quitting time just to get back home. Road weary and exhausted, we can’t help but wonder, "Is it worth it?"

Your life doesn’t need a long commute.

The only reason you may have one is because living farther away from work means you can get a bigger house. This seems like a bargain except for the fact you’re losing valuable time you could be spending in that giant house. And why did you want such a big house anyway? So that you could spend time away from the other people who live there? And people wonder why we spend less time with our families and all of us seem to be growing increasingly isolated.

Think about it: 100 hours of drive-time. That’s longer than your vacation. It’s uncompensated time. And if you’re off the clock, why not do something you enjoy, some you’re passionate about, or something you’ve always wanted to try?

Worst of all, our daily commute makes us unhappy. We hate it. It’s unpredictable, tedious, and even monotonous. And we only hate it more the more we do it.

So there you have it – a long commute is something you hate, it can get longer at any given moment, and the more days we commute, the more we hate said commute. There is no silver lining here – not even a free house surrounded by rainbows and trees that grow candy bars.

The only solution is abstinence. Give up the commute altogether. Technology makes nearly any job doable from your home office – if not daily then at least a few times a week. You could also trade in your house way out yonder for a smaller place closer to your office. This is a bit more complicated than convincing your boss that you can keep up productivity remotely, but studies again show that those who work from home tend to me more productive than that often-interrupted office-bound counterparts.

Big houses don’t make us happier. Long commutes make us angry. Seems like two clear examples of something our life doesn’t need. Trade them in and watch your life improve.