One of the biggest adjustments around moving to Milton was definitely the commute factor. I opted to keep my job in Toronto for the sake of, well, sanity. Too much change can be a bad thing and the familiarity of my job was comforting. Plus it gave me an excuse to be in Toronto five days a week, keeping the friend comfort zone umbilical cord intact.
Now if you grew up anything like me, you have thought to yourself at least once in the course of your life – “Who are these crazy people that commute?” and something along the lines of “I could never do that.” Well as my fellow commuters and I have found out, the power of love and for many people the simple fact of affordable housing, combined with job security, benefits and a promising career flip all of those convictions upside down. It could happen to you. The struggle is real folks! Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do, and in the end, it is worth it.
So how do you handle it? Do you curse the whole retched way and scorn the lengthy hold ups that crop up at every turn? Do you stress about every little hiccup that is going to delay you even more? Do you lash out at your fellow commuters for “walking too slowly” or, god forbid, not knowing exactly where they are going? The answer is a very emphatic… NO. You’ll drive yourself insane, rather than just to work. Instead, set yourself to a very reasonable standard of time that it may take you to get to work and you find a way to just enjoy the ride.
I have some steps to help you survive your commute; a warning that they are taken from the standpoint of a driver. You may recall from my last post that the cost of taking the GO Train was exorbitant, so I eventually switched to driving. However, in general, most of these steps can be applied to any mode of commute.
5 Steps to Surviving your Commute…
Step 1: Make yourself comfortable. Get your ride looking and feeling the way you want it to. If you are in the market for a new vehicle, keep in mind how much time you will actually be spending in it. If the answer is a lot, the extra money for conveniences and comforts will pay off. For example, I wouldn’t trade my seat warmers for anything, with maybe the exception of the automatic car starter that I didn’t purchase. Hindsight is always 20/20, so try and think what will make a difference to you when you have to get up in the morning to do your daily commute and its -20 degrees Celsius outside. Think of other things too… Do you need back support? Look into your options. Are your hands always cold? Buy driving gloves.
Also, keep your car clean, on the inside at least. It’s not pleasant getting into an odorous car or one so cluttered with junk or garbage (you know who you are) that you can’t find anywhere to put your stuff down. Clean out your car every day and you won’t have this problem.
Step 2: Leave yourself time. Try to give yourself a reasonable amount of time when you get up in the morning to do everything you need to do, and then some. I know, easier said than done, and I still struggle with this. One way to cope is to find some flexibility. Talk to your boss about your working hours. Do you have to work 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.? If your business isn’t dependent upon you working these exact hours, see if you can find something off peak. Maybe you’re a morning person and working 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. would be amazing or if you struggle in the a.m. like me, try working 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. These are off peak hours and yeah traffic will still be busy, but it won’t be at its worst and you will notice a difference most days. If these hours are not an option for you, at the very least speak to your boss about the unpredictability of commuting and come to an understanding so that you are not stressed the entire journey to work.
Step 3: Calm down! There is no point in spazzing out over delays – especially if you are driving. Yes traffic will slow down for no reason. Yes some $#!^ driver will cut you off, swerve through traffic and ride your butt when highway traffic is flowing at 60 km/hr. But the truth is, you have no control over any of it, so just let it go. The best way to do this is to find something else to focus on (as well as the road), which leads me to…
Step 4: Take the time out for you. The reality is many of us find very little time that we truly have to ourselves. If we are not physically with other people, we are being texted or emailed or pinged by them. We are in a constant state of socializing and for those of us who lean slightly to the introvert side- it is downright exhausting. The commute provides us with an excuse to zone out, the opportunity to just be in our own moment and do something that we enjoy. I fall into this category. If you do too, go straight to Step #5.
For you extroverts out there, try using your commute time to do even more socializing. Catch up with a family member or good friend the old fashion way…over the phone. Most phones are equipped with bluetooth now, helping us keep it hands free and legal. Many of us carry out some of our most important relationships via the typed word. And these aren’t even high value words like we used to put in emails, or for those of you who can remember, put on paper, with ink and sent via the mail (you know the stuff that goes in those metal boxes on the side of the street). A good person to call is Grandma. She’d love to hear from you and chances are she doesn’t ping or text, so hearing your voice might just be the highlight of her day and I’d be willing to bet – yours too.
Step 5: Listen to something you enjoy. My favourite thing to do during my commute is to just chill out and listen to something awesome. Yeah, every now and again I’ll make a phone call to someone I haven’t talked to in a while and have a good hour long chat, but for the most part my preferred way to survive my commute is to just shut up and listen to pretty much anything. Oh, and occasionally, I’ll talk back to the radio, audiobook or podcast I’m listening to, and the best part is, they don’t argue back! Next post I’ll get into the listening options out there and give you some specific recommendations. For now, work on steps 1-4.