Time Travel (Travel Time)

Coming home from an errand in the city last week, one of my daughters complained that we had been on the road for at least two hours — and that was just the way back. We started our trip at around 3 p.m., and we were still about halfway home by about five.

Traffic is one of the effects of overcrowding in any city, and it can have a significant impact on the economy, not to mention one’s family. To put things in perspective, in 2013, the economic cost of traffic jams for Americans was $124 billion. This has risen to $160 billion in 2014. Going on a micro level, that’s around $2,300 to $2,900 per year for every household, not including degraded productivity levels for professionals who have to spend — waste! — precious hours of their day on their commute.

I have been mostly telecommuting for more than a decade now, although I do recall spending about three hours per day on the road when I was still working full time at a physical office. Given my line of work, my wife and I made a drastic decision to move the family to the suburbs about five years back. We now mostly just drive to the city on weekends for church, doctors’ checkups and to visit relatives, among others.

Freelancing and remote working arrangements do have their ups and downs, although one clear benefit is flexibility — something my wife often reminds me of. During this particular road trip, I took the opportunity to impart upon my pre-teen daughter how grateful we should be that I do not have to contend with being away from home for the better part of the day, everyday, just to make a living.

To take it to the extreme, many families I know have at least one parent working abroad, only getting to see their spouses and kids every few months or so. Such is the reality for many peope, but it’s one of those things that others can easily take for granted.

Time is the one resource that can never be replenished, although we can stretch it or change our perception of it.

Time is the one resource that can never be replenished, although we can certainly leverage other resources in order to stretch or manipulate time to our advantage. Wealthy folks, for example, can hire other people to accomplish tasks, thus being able to focus their time on higher-value concerns.

For people like myself, flexibility affords me the benefit of being with the people I love while at the same time accomplishing work that I also consider important.

Of course, there’s the concern about being able to concentrate my focus where it is needed (either my work or my family). But that’s worthy of another post altogether.

Lesson learned here is that I need to better appreciate the things I have. Still, I also need to push myself more, in order to better leverage what I do have in finding and creating better value in terms of my work.

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