There is one thing that everyone in the workforce has in common: a commute. Whether it’s 20 miles on the highway, or a simple walk down the hall to your home office, we all have a daily commute. While mileage and time spent varies, a commute is a shared commonality with every job. It’s also something that is very important to consider when you are offered a job, or start looking. Time spent on a daily commute can not only impact your work life, but also your personal life. We’ll discuss the implications and trade offs below.

Burdens of a Long Commute

When you are pursuing a job with a long commute, there are a number of factors to consider. The first is obviously overall fatigue from long travel time. Having to sit in traffic for a large percentage of your day can have a strong negative impact. We’ll talk about how to offset this in a few paragraphs. Another factor that a long commute can impact is sleep. A longer commute means waking up earlier, and less sleep. While you could offset this with an earlier bedtime, that means at this point, your commute will start to cut into your free time.

Couple Eating Popcorn Watching Television from a Couch

A long commute may cut into your valuable free time.

Free time is probably the biggest loss with a long commute. This is time that could be spent with family, friends, or a good book instead of sitting in traffic. If you have to give that up, you should be doing so for a good reason. Lastly, gas can be expensive, so factoring that in may help your consideration. Sometimes employees take a job further away because pay is better. Just make sure what you wind up paying in gas won’t eat up that increase in pay!

Commute Considerations

If you’re going to have to consider a longer travel, there are a few things you can compare it to for some perspective. First and foremost is salary. Previously we mentioned this is the reason many people consider spending more time behind the wheel. You should just take into account if the pay increase goes beyond gas money, but also if it is worth the sacrifice of time. The old adage of time is money is especially true in this situation.

Pumping Gas Into a Car

If pay is better with a longer commute, make sure you’re not paying the difference in gas.

Another important factor when considering a commute is job satisfaction. It can be extremely challenging to find a job that you find fulfilling, so it’s no surprise that people go to great lengths when they find one. Last but not least, you should consider room for advancement. If you’re in a job 5 minutes away where you know you’ll never move up, the job 35 minutes away with upward mobility might be a better option. If the further job is something that would offer you a better opportunity in the future, consider it from a long term perspective. If you invest the commute hours now, that opportunity may pay off with a better position in the future.

Making the Commute Fun

No matter what you end up choosing, there are ways to make the commute more enjoyable, and financially bearable. If you know someone who works and lives near you, consider carpooling. This would allow you to split the cost of gas saving money, and have someone to talk to and make the car ride more enjoyable. Just make sure it’s someone you would enjoy spending time with!

Woman is Driving while Man in Passenger Seat is Horrified and Wants to Get Out

If you decide to carpool, make sure it’s someone whose company you enjoy!

Another popular option is audiobooks and podcasts. While you may not have time to sit outside and read with your new hectic job, taking in an audiobook during the commute is a great way to look forward to the drive, and advancing the story. This last suggestion is better suited for a 30-45 minute travel time: mentally planning out your day. Preparing for that day’s meetings and interactions will help you be ready to tackle everything once you arrive. At the end of the day, you can do a systems check on what you achieved, and what should be carried on to the next day.

We hope this discussion gave you some further insight into your commute considerations and final decision making process. If you’d like to share your own stories, please let us know what your own personal time preference is in the comments!