I recently read an article that left me gobsmacked. In fact, I now wonder every time I take the train or plane for work: How many of those around me are in a similar situation to those in the article?
The content included couples that were constantly struggling and fighting, parents that never got to see their children or missed out on important moments such as when a son or daughter starts to take the first steps. Some never got to say Good Night or Good Morning to their kids.
But if this wasn’t enough, some of these poor souls lost up to four hours per day commuting. Time not spent productively or in return for anything pleasurable. Hours that they will never get back. Time that is lost forever.
Commuting is a life waster
The article was about the impact commuting had on people’s lives and what people had to endure to be paid for their work.
One family father mentioned that while his wife was at home watching their son transform from a sleepy baby to a walking dynamic toddler, he spent almost four hours per day commuting from home to his well paying job. He said that as a hospital director, the pay and career options were simply to tempting to let them pass. He, however, had to live with the knowledge that those moments with his child would never come back. Was it a price worth paying?
A woman, a head of an IT department complained about what her relationship had turned into. Her once happy life had turned into evenings of bickering and silence after long exhausting arguments. She saw the main culprit in her long one and a half hour commutes in the morning and likewise in the evenings after her intense work days. The relationship was apparently at a breaking point. Is it worth losing those you love?
A third person from the city of London, a banker, said that he left at 5 A.M. every morning to be in the office by 6:30 A.M. pushing through the tube and squeezed in between thousands of others. He had apparently been doing this long exhausting commute for over twenty years. For these three hours he had, over the years, found a way to switch off through meditation, no longer realizing the buzz around him. Upon coming home his clothes smelled of the metallic fumes of public transport. Even meditation was no cure for it. Wouldn’t you rather meditate on a nice beach?
Commuting is a money waster
Each single one of them commuted for one reason only: their job. In today’s world many are faced with no other option but to move or commute to work. So the only reason for giving up precious hours of your life; time that you will never get back – never – is money.
But when looking at the time wasted and translating it into its monetary value, things start looking very differently. Unless you get the opportunity to use the time for work or something enriching, these hours are truly wasted. It is impossible to even think straight when trapped between others on the tube. It is impossible to write down your thoughts or work when stuck in traffic.
Commuting is a terrible money waster. Those hours you should use to be productive in your life, whatever form that may be, are wasted on getting somewhere to receive a paycheck. Even if you were not to use these hours for productive work, wouldn’t it be much more pleasant to sleep an hour longer, relax, or do whatever else you feel fit to enrich your life?
If you could use these moments to relax, you would be gigantically more productive the rest of the time. If you didn’t have to commute, you wouldn’t need an hour to calm yourself down, relax, and try to find a mental equilibrium to make you a happy and productive person.
Commuting – some time figures
How much time and money have our three hard working commuters really wasted? In a single month with twenty work days even the shortest of times at 1 ½ lost per journey, the monthly time (20 work days) spent solely commuting is a staggering 60 hours. This translates into an unbelievable 750 hours per year (250 work days) in lost commuting time alone.
The hospital director who loses almost 4 hours per day commuting back and forth sees an even a greater number of lifetime slip away: Per month 80 hours and per year a full 1,000 hours.
The 750 hours are equal to a full month, the 1,000 hours to almost 42 days that are lost to earn money.
Commuting – some financial figures
With most commutes being nothing than a burden in lieu of productive time, what about the financial impact?
The unhappy lady losing 750 hours per year sitting on the metro is also hurting financially. Even if she was only earning $/€/£ 20 per hour, over a full year her financial shortfall is $/€/£ 15,000. At $/€/£ 30 per hour, $/€/£ 22,500 per year. That is almost a full time salary for the average person.
The hospital director looks at even greater financial losses. If he spent the time productive, $/€/£ 20 per hour would translate into $/€/£ 20,000 per year, $/€/£ 30 into $/€/£ 30,000 and so forth.
In other words, their employers should really pay them a few thousand extra per year just to make up for their lost time. But obviously that won’t happen, as they could all just simply move closer to their work place.
The end of commuting
Except for the banker, all others in the article found alternative solutions. The formerly stressed head of IT became a stay-at-home mum only working part-time for a local firm. The hospital director took a massive pay cut and now works for a smaller hospital 15 minutes nearby.
But both said that their quality of life had improved manifold and the moments with the children and the improved relationships were worth every penny.
In addition, they now gained a gigantic number of lifetime hours that they can put towards building side projects. The stay-at-home mum has apparently also started an Etsy shop where she is slowly but steadily earning nice sums compensating for the lower income.
Even though they might, on paper earn less, they are all happier for it. Off paper they potentially still earn the same or even more if they decided to put their newly gained hours into some revenue generating activity requiring no stressful communiting.