When I was working as a newspaper reporter in Atlanta, my commute used to be the distance from the bedroom to the home office. When I lived in Hong Kong as a television reporter, that distance expanded to 15 minutes.
Nowadays, I'm lucky if I make it into work in an hour. The price of fresh air, a spacious home and a good public school system is spending every morning crammed in a boxcar with thousands of others making the same sacrifice.
This same commute is about to get even more hellish--and interminably long--with the track repairs being made at Penn Station, one of the main transit hubs in New York City. Have I considered throwing in the towel and moving into the city? Yes. However, two angry teenaged boys who will likely never forgive me for uprooting them are standing in the way.
So in the meantime, I've figured out a few ways to stay productive when faced with hours of time on the road:
1. Get a good night's rest: Your day begins and ends with how much sleep you get. Each hour less of sleep you get degrades your productivity the next morning. I used to think I could operate on 5 hours of sleep. Wrong. I could operate--just not at full capacity. The fact that I now work two jobs (anchoring on television and running my company, Radiate) means I need to be at my fullest. Without enough sleep, I can't function at top speed. I sleep 6 to 8 hours a night and like Warren Buffett, sometimes I sleep 10 on the weekends. I may not be in my 80s like Buffett but I still want to live that long--sleep is one way to keep myself healthy.
2. Commute during off-hours: This may not be feasible for everyone but there's wonders when traveling outside of "commuting hours." Plenty of seats are available. Things seem to run more smoothly. People are in a better mood--including yourself. I've noticed an incredible difference between a train packed at 730 AM versus one that's nearly empty at 830 AM. Turns out I'm not the only one who's discovered this productivity hack. Tim Armstrong, the CEO of Oath, told Radiate that he also varies up his commuting times. It's his biggest time-saving trick: "I either leave really, really early in the morning, or I'll leave after the commute starts, or I'll stay at work a little bit later until commuting hours die down a little bit," he said. "That allows me to essentially have more quality time overall."
3. Get a MiFi: First off, thank goodness laptops are becoming lighter. I can slip one in my purse and be ready to work anywhere. Second, thank goodness for MiFi, which is essentially a router that acts like a mobile WiFi hotspot. I carry one with me all the time. Whenever I'm sitting down, I can open up my laptop and be on WiFi in minutes. I'm not draining my phone battery by turning it into a hotspot. The MiFis are cheap, effective, reliable. The amount of stuff I've been able to get done--including writing this article--on these commutes has made the investment worthwhile.
Follow these tips above and you might not be cursing your commute as much--as for NJ Transit, that's another story.