How Long Does It Really Take You to Get to Work?


This is a guest post by Colter Reed. Colter writes software, and writes about personal growth and productivity on his blog.

How long does it take you to get to work in the morning?

Got a number in mind? Remember that number.

Mine is fifteen. Five + ten. I’m going to put it to the test today.

Next question: how often are you late for work? Do you squeeze in, ten minutes late, or two minutes late, and hope no one noticed?

If you’re showing up late for work, your number for your commute time is too low.

Getting Out the Door

First, you have to get out the door. It takes longer than you think.

Make sure all the clocks in your house have the same time on them—the correct time. If you don’t even know what time it is, you’re not going to leave on time.

Do you have everything you need? Wallet? Keys? Sunglasses? Phone? Put everything in the same place, preferably together, so you can grab your stuff and go in the morning without hunting for things around the house.

The more you can prepare the night before, the less you’ll need to prepare in the morning.

Getting Through Traffic

Your car’s nav system or the Maps app on your phone will tell you how long it takes you to get to work. It’s an idealized time. Your commute will take longer.

Driving directions tell you how long it will take to pull up to the curb. You still need time to park… (Tweet this quote)

Oh, you forgot to grab your phone? Go back and get it. You’ll need that.

Give yourself time to hit every red light on the way. And everyone’s checking out that fender-bender. I know you know how to drive on these slick roads, but everyone else

Looks like you’re under an eighth of a tank. Better stop and fill up…

If You Aren’t Ten Minutes Early, You’re Late

Are you the employee of the month? Great! You have a space reserved for you, right by the entrance. That will save you a few minutes.

Need a proper cuppa to start your day? The line at the coffee bar in the cafeteria isn’t that long, and the barista can start your order on sight.

Don’t forget to drop your nephew’s birthday card off in the mail room.

One nature break later, you’re ready to dive in with your email check for the morning. Your day is under way!

…23 minutes late.

(It’s okay, there are still people trickling in and chatting by the water cooler. At least you aren’t as late as they are.)

Fortunately, Your Number is Fixable

I thought it would take fifteen minutes to get to work, five to get out the door and ten to get to work. It was closer to thirty. Ten to get out the door (saying goodbye to young kids is fun, but slow) and fifteen to drive to work. By the time I was in my office, half an hour had passed, not ten minutes.

Grab a stopwatch. There’s one on your phone. For two weeks, time yourself. Every commute. How long does it take to go from “I should leave for work now” until you’re sitting down (or standing up) ready to go?

If you don’t measure it, you’re not going to improve it. If your estimates are off by a fixed amount, you’re in luck. You just need to learn how long it really takes and adjust.

If you’re all over the place, you’ll need to take a deeper look at what’s happening. Is something blowing up your morning routine?

Tied up in rush-hour traffic? Try time-shifting your commute. Save yourself time and stress.

Bad at estimating? You can get better.

You’d be amazed how much more you can get done if you show up ten minutes early instead of ten minutes late.

You might even get that employee of the month parking spot.

Question: How have you made getting to work more predictable so you can be on time? What’s standing in your way? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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