Just me. Excuse the feet.

An Entrepreneur’s Reflections And Realizations On Commuting

“I wake up at 5am and I’m in the shower by 515 or so. I have a light breakfast, then go for a run or do some type of exercise for an hour. I’m back home by 7am, I get ready, show up at my desk at 830am ready to work.”

So yea, I’ve never been like that. My actual day consists of me waking up at around 8ish, sort of, plopping down onto my couch, checking some emails and reading The Skimm for the day. I have days where I really go at it the entire day, and I have days where I just sort of maintain operations and make sure that stuff doesn’t blow up.

But today, February 4th, 2016, I drove my gf to work.

She had to be there at 7am.

I do this occasionally, and it sucks. For both of us. The funny thing is that even though she does this more often, she’s always more tired than I am on these mornings.

Since it’s about a 30 minute drive or so, I inevitably do a lot of reflection on my drives home from dropping her off. As someone that technically has a commute of ~4 steps, I think a lot about what is it that caused all of these individuals to cram themselves on the highway?

There’s an obvious answer here for most of them, but I wonder on an individual level as I sneak glances at people’s faces.

I feel especially sorry for the people that take public transportation to work in this harsh Chicago winter, even if it is El niño. I feel like they always look at me when I drive by, maybe with a little bit of disdain. I know I used to do that, so maybe I’m projecting.

Back when I first quit the job world “forever,” I remember driving in the mornings just for the heck of it sometimes, and thinking everyone next to me was a plebeian. Of course, this wasn’t true, but oh man did I not envy their situations.

After a few months of this, and getting over the fact that “OMG NO MORE JOB” I realized that some people actually truly enjoy their jobs. I referenced in a different post recently that according to Gallup, while over two-thirds of people don’t enjoy their jobs almost one-third of employees are actively engaged. Who knows if “actively engaged” means you enjoy your job, but it’s certainly better than feeling like a pleb.

Three and a half years later, I drove home amongst the masses this morning. I realized about 20 minutes in that I don’t even think about the fact that my life is any different from most people anymore. I realized that while the whole job thing isn’t MY thing, entrepreneurship is not for a lot of people.

Of employed people, about 10% telecommute at least half of the time (meaning they work from home) but about 28% do telecommute at least one working day each month.

Some of these people on the highway with me are more successful entrepreneurs or execs that are driving to the offices they built. I don’t have a big sprawling office complex, or 10,000 square feet in a fancy building!

Some of these people are out of work, maybe headed to an interview. Some of these people are retired. Some people don’t have to work today, but enjoy taking their car out for a spin.

The point is that you never know. I used to look at these peoples’ faces with a very narrow lens. I looked for the signs of despair, and “saw it” in people that might not be upset or sad about anything at all.

I realized my dream is not everyone else’s dream.

Some people get sick of working at home, and actually prefer to work at an office. I often like to get out of the house myself for a change of pace. After shedding my life of practically all of the burdens and shackles of adhering to a job, I realized that some things are actually good for us.

I decided to have a more routine schedule again.

So let’s circle back to the morning guy.

I don’t personally wake up as early, but 8am is a decent time to get started with the day. Even on “maintenance days,” I write down a list of what needs to be done, and I use that as a baseline while I tackle ongoing projects as I see fit. This allows me to be consistent while having a lot of room to maneuver or be spontaneous.

Yesterday morning I woke up and worked from a hotel room until noon, drove an hour to get home, and picked up from there. When I get bored, I can just stop, do something that I feel like doing, and refresh. This has worked wonders for me as it’s helped me to be pretty darn productive while keeping a fresh, reasonably uncluttered mind.

So as I slowly transitioned into this pseudo-routine by finding what works best, I had my biggest realization. I realized that the only difference between the constant commuter and the non-commuter is that the “commute” takes time out of the day that you can normally use to balance your life.

If you wake up at an earlier time or change something else in your schedule that balances that hour of commuting, you can win a piece of your life back.

If that means exercising in the morning, great! If that means waking up early to reflect on life, read an actual newspaper and stroll without hassle into work, great! These types of things will help free your mind of troubles and distractions, and you’ll be a more productive, happier person.