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

Enjoy Your Commute

by

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? rbrenWnsQULkZrrubfCBWner@ChacUuDLlgowVVnrMdvZoCanyon.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:

Time is moneyTaming the Time Card
Filling out time cards may seem maddeningly trivial, but the data they collect can be critically important to project managers. Why is it so important? And what does an effective, yet minimally intrusive time reporting system look like?
A dwarf apple tree typical of modern commercial varietiesWacky Words of Wisdom
Words of wisdom are so often helpful that many of them have solidified into easily remembered capsules. We do tend to over-generalize them, though, and when we do, trouble follows. Here are a few of the more dangerous ones.
Governor Scott Walker of WisconsinIndicators of Lock-In: I
In group decision-making, lock-in occurs when the group persists in adhering to its chosen course even though superior alternatives exist. Lock-in can be disastrous for problem-solving organizations. What are some common indicators of lock-in?
Henri Laurence Gantt, inventor of the Gantt ChartThe Tyranny of Singular Nouns
When groups try to reach decisions, and the issue in question has a name that suggests a unitary concept, such as "policy," they sometimes collectively assume that they're required to find a one-size-fits-all solution. This assumption leads to poor decisions when one-size-fits-all isn't actually required.
Roald Amundsen, Helmer Hanssen, Sverre Hassel, and Oscar Wisting at the South PoleDeciding to Change: Choosing
When organizations decide to change what they do, the change sometimes requires that they change how they make decisions, too. That part of the change is sometimes overlooked, in part, because it affects most the people who make decisions. What can we do about this?

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

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

C. Northcote Parkinson in 1961Coming September 27: Meeting Troubles: Collaboration
In some meetings, we collaborate not in reaching objectives, but in preventing our doing so. Here are three examples of this pattern. Available here and by RSS on September 27.
A typical standup meetingAnd on October 4: Meeting Troubles: Culture
Sometimes meetings are less effective than they might be because of cultural factors that are outside our awareness. Here are some examples. Available here and by RSS on October 4.

Coaching services

I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenDVtfiuBSCpabgKEtner@ChacONlilFUWOEMaZpTBoCanyon.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.

The Race to the South Pole: Ten Lessons for Project Managers
On 14The Race to the Pole: Ten Lessons for Project Managers December 1911, four men led by Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole. Thirty-five days later, Robert F. Scott and four others followed. Amundsen had won the race to the pole. Amundsen's party returned to base on 26 January 1912. Scott's party perished. As historical drama, why this happened is interesting enough, but to organizational leaders, business analysts, project sponsors, and project managers, the story is fascinating. Lessons abound. Read more about this program. Here's a date for this program:

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.
21st Century Business TravelAre your business trips long chains of stressful misadventures? Have you ever wondered if there's a better way to get from here to there relaxed and refreshed? First class travel is one alternative, but you can do almost as well (without the high costs) if you know the tricks of the masters of 21st-century e-enabled business travel…
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.