Reclaiming your commute

A few months ago, as 42Floors was ramping up, it had become harder and harder to find time to write new content for the blog. I just couldn't find the time anymore.  It was really a shame because I really enjoy working on this blog. 

What I found is that it doesn’t actually seem like it’s a time issue; it’s more of a focus issue. There have been plenty of moments where I could’ve been writing on the blog.  I just couldn’t wrap my mind into the focus I needed to churn out a bunch of words, edit through them to find the right message and then finally polish it up into something worth reading.

But that’s now changed.  I'm back.

I have a totally renewed excitement for blogging.  I just had to reexamine my process.  It used to be the blog post got written in one of two places:  on plane flights or in coffee shops.  Always done in long spurts – three, four, five hours at a time.  I would usually turn on Freedom in order to move away from the distractions of the internet and would write, edit and polish all in one sitting.

I realized as I got busier that that system was no longer going to be possible.  Now when I have a free moment, I want to play a game of Bughouse or spend time with my wonderful fiancé, or read, or think about the future of 42Floors


But I do have one time when I’m still left bored – unused time that could be spent on this blog.



Commuting. I hate commuting so much.  I hate that I sit there unable to use the time productively. 

So just as an experiment a few weeks ago, I plugged in my earphones, hit voice recorder and tried to finish a blog post I’ve been working on for a long time. It was actually pretty cool.  Speaking out loud in my own natural voice is the same tone I try to achieve in these blog posts anyway.  It actually wasn’t that hard. 

In fact, I’m kind of addicted to it right now and I’ve done six or seven blog posts in just the last few weeks all from my car, all while stuck in traffic … all through the voice recorder.  Now, driving through rush hour is not so obtrusive because I know I’m going to create a blog post out of it.  I actually look forward to longer drives.

So, once I realized I could dictate these posts, I got on TaskRabbit, posted a task for “dictation help” and found an outstanding virtual assistant who transcribed the whole thing.  It means that now, I’ve taken time that was previously wasted, and with a few dollars, am able to do something I love.

So the last few posts have been written this way.  Have any of you detected the difference?  No one said anything.  I’m getting the similar number of users and Hacker News comments that I usually do.  I’m going to keep doing this for a while.  I may never actually go back to writing in coffee shops



So it really got me thinking about commutes.  I read this study that linked commuting to unhappiness; and, God, I’m thinking, what a shame . . . all these people are putting themselves through such misery. You just see their frustration when they act out with their road rage.

I now look at the commute as an opportunity.  In fact, not just an opportunity, but an actual gift.

I’ve been an Audible subscriber for the past ten years.  I used to burn CD’s and listen to them on my Discman in the car.  In 2007, I used my daily commute to listen to every one of the Startup School lectures that Y Combinator has ever put on. I've used my commute for catching up with family and old friends.

And now blogging.  Yet again, I found a way to use the most unproductive time of my day to do something I love doing. 

Think about your commute. 

Are you sitting there frustrated? 

Are you wasting a gift of time?


You have this defined time everyday and no one expects you to be working during it – what can you do for yourself?  How can you turn this burden into a gift?  Let me know in the comments.  What cool things do you guys do during your commutes?



P.S.  Don't text and drive.  Use hands-free devices.  Stay safe above all else.




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I'm Jason Freedman.
I've got a sweet-ass new company: 42Floors.
Previously, I did FlightCaster.
I welcome connections on Linkedin, Facebook, AngelList and Twitter.
16 responses
This post really resonated with me, since I have a pretty awful reverse-commute from the city everyday. I actually tried a few of the same things you did (catch up phone calls and burning educational CDs). Problem for me was, I got tired of actually burning the CDs and I would also run out of people to catch up with, eventually resorting to mindless radio.

Since I've been meaning to get into writing blog content, I think I will definitely give this a shot. Thank you for the awesome suggestion!!

I don't commute, but I do have frequent 8 hour drives from Chicago to Mpls. I always thought audiobooks were for the senior years, but not so! I get a "book" that I would never find time to "read," and that 8 hours becomes really compelling.
loved your post! thanks
Just read the Inc. article and I'm fascinated by what you're doing with 42Floors. Good luck to you and your team!
Nice idea. I'll have to remember this when I'm sitting on the 405 fwy!
Hey Jason,

I am a big fan of the blog.

Have you tried books on tape? I felt the same way you do about sitting in traffic.

Just an FYI: I finished 36 books in 3 months doing so and actually, believe it or not, rediscovered my love for learning that I had when I was in early grade school. - i know that last line sounded corny but it is true.

I ride a bicycle. My commute makes me happier and healthier, and it's way cheaper. During rush hour I even get home faster than I would have if I drove.
My commute is so short, that sometimes I take a wrong turn and head for the hills...just to MAKE a commute and enjoy some tunes in the transition from Mom to CEO.
Hey, great article in INC.; let's catch up when you're in DC.
Hi Jason...I just read the Inc article. One thing I took away from reading that article was how quickly you came up with an idea and then acted on it. Sometimes I suffer from analysis paralysis. Onward....I have listened the 4 hour work week and crush it while driving. Also with dragon dictation I can jot down ideas, write emails and blog posts with very little editing as the program is deadly accurate.
I used commuting time to start learning a new language. Pimsleur's Italian program, for example, consists of 90 30-minute lessons, and it's best if you do each one in an unbroken session. So for anyone with longer than a half-hour commute, you can get pretty good in just a few months.

Thank you for your e-mail. <o:p></o:p>

I will be out of the office this afternoon and tomorrow, but checking emails and voice mail, periodically.<o:p></o:p>

Thank you for your patience.<o:p></o:p>

If this message requires an immediate response or action, please call my cell, otherwise reach out to the DCG office @ 301-829-1772 and you will be directed to the appropriate resource.<o:p></o:p>

Thank you and have a wonderful day,<o:p></o:p>

Theresa Alfaro Daytner<o:p></o:p>

Bluetooth headset with "hidden microphone", is designed for mobile phone users to design the pursuit of high-quality voice calls and best music playback.
Commuting is a disgusting thinking.This is helpless.I think no body wants this. But it is every where.
That time I was searching your posts every day. That was a bad time for me.

Thank you for your interest in working with Daytner Construction Group.  I will be out of the office for meetings through Monday, April 15th.  I will be periodically checking emails and voice mails and will respond as time permits and I'm not driving!<o:p></o:p>

Feel free to contact my office @ 301-829-1772, if you have an urgent matter and my staff will reach me or direct appropriately.<o:p></o:p>

Thank you for your patience and have a wonderful day,<o:p></o:p>

Theresa Alfaro Daytner<o:p></o:p>

I am going to write a blog and your blog will inspire me a lot. Wish me luck. I was thinking to myself: this really explained things well and gave me a whole new way of looking at things. I do know this would not have been possible without reading this truly remarkable post. I sincerely appreciate it and wish all the best!