How To Have More Time
Andrew Merle

Regarding the commuting time drain, I would like to see a more thoughtful analysis and recommendation on how to cure the “ill.” Until earlier this year I was bogged down with what many would consider an excessive commute; I spent approximately 3 hours each day commuting from our suburban home to my job in the city. Many of these hours were productively spent on the train, either working or relaxing. However, when our first children (twins) were born I could not in good conscience continue that lifestyle and took a similar job 20 minutes from home. It has been a life changer in so many ways and I am much happier with the time I can spend with my family. Nevertheless, it sounds as if I could have done better since my commute is still significantly above the reported average.

I think if you do the math, assuming standard 2 weeks vacation, you get to the 100 annual hours pretty easily even if you live just 12 minutes from work (i.e., round trip — 24 minutes per day, 2 hours per week, and 100 hours over 50 weeks). Tough to imagine that most folks can live closer than that to their office on average, and close enough to make a material impact on their free time. Not to mention the additional costs necessary to relocate within similar proximity after each job change to maintain sufficiently below the 12 minute mark , which could be required by simply taking a job across town.

So, I am not sure the “average” commute is all that unreasonable. The outliers to the high side are probably the ones that should take a hard look like I did.

One hundred annual commuting hours is an item without much meat on the bone for generating free-time.

Sidebar - Time arguably has no price, and if it does you can’t just buy more of it without having to work more to earn the incremental income to “purchase” such time. That’s the whole “there is no free lunch” concept commonly cited in economic discussions. Similarly, having the ability even to contemplate a time purchase strongly suggests earnings in excess of needs, likely the result of unnecessary work if the ultimate goal is to maximize and reallocate free-time to more desirable (i.e., non-work) activities. To paraphrase a favorite song lyric — don’t be a climber, always reaching for the top; don’t be anything where you don’t know when to stop. Life doesn’t wait for us, it marches on with or without us, babies grow, parents age, relationships evolve. Time is our dearest friend and our worst enemy. Be present for all that you can.