Search
Advice » In the Workplace» Work-Life Balance » What We Do on the Commute
What We Do on the Commute

What We Do on the Commute

If you read enough articles and studies on the 130 million or so Americans who commute to work each day, such as Alan Pisarski’s October 2006 Commuting in America III, you’ll see that what people actually do during their commutes is as diverse as America itself.

For example, the News & Observer profiled a woman who, among other things, lifts weights to pump up her biceps during her daily 328-mile round-trip commute. A Wall Street Journal article described a former rock band drummer who sees his short daily commute as the only time he can get back on stage and cranks the radio volume as high as he likes. Even the satirical Onion offered a headline that’s more truth than fiction: “Commuter Playing Some Sort of Alphabet Sudoku.”

Commute Is Seen as Me Time

But whatever they might be doing during the commute, most workers seem to share a common attitude about their commuting time: “It’s mine, not my employer’s.”

My brother Mark, an independent IT consultant who has commuted from North Aurora, Illinois, to downtown Chicago and other Illinois destinations for the last seven years, puts it like this: “Work stuff is down the list of activities, and it’s done not by choice but by necessity and only as long as necessary.”

Like many of his train-riding compatriots, my brother tends to devote the three to four hours he spends on the tracks each day to anything but work. High on the list: Sleeping, both on the way to and from work. “In a train car with 80 people, 60 of them are sleeping, especially on the way in,” Mark says. “Even the little old grandma is wearing an iPod, trying to create some kind of space so she can sleep.”

Reading is also big among public-transit commuters. Case in point: Matt Loggins, facilities manager at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. During his 100-mile round-trip train-subway-bus commute each day, he reads. And reads. And reads.

“Right now I’m reading The Milagro Beanfield War by John Nichols,” says Loggins, who lives in Upland, California, and commutes about four hours a day. “My goal for the next two years is to read all of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novels -- a goal I could not achieve without the commute. Before I started working in LA, I read maybe six books a year. Now I read six books a month.”

Commute Determines Commuting Activity

Sleeping and reading are great if someone else is driving. But what about the 80 percent to 90 percent (depending on location) of people who drive themselves to work each day and who spend, on average, more than 15 hours a week in their vehicles, according to a 2005 study by Harris Interactive and Auto Expressions?

Eating and talking on the cell phone are both popular activities among the I-drive-myself set, notes the survey. The same goes for listening to talk radio, books on tape and instructional materials. That woman who lifts weights while she drives, for example, is prone to popping a Spanish-language instruction tape into her cassette player.

Then there are the introverts among us who savor the silence their commutes can offer -- something they may not get anywhere else, especially if they go home to a busy family life.

Whatever Americans decide to do during their commutes, one thing is certain: There’s no letup in sight. The Commuting in America III study, sponsored by the Transportation Research Board and based on an analysis of US Census data gathered between 1990 and 2004, shows the average American’s one-way commuting time rose to 25.5 minutes in 2000, up from 22.4 minutes in 1990. And the number of workers with commutes lasting more than an hour one way grew by nearly 50 percent during that same time period.

The bottom line: Most commuters will continue to have plenty of time to think about what they can do with their time.

Latest Jobs

Kforce Inc
Posted: 07/23/2014
Greenfield, WI, 53228
Kforce Inc
Posted: 07/23/2014
San Diego, CA, 92123
AmeriBanc National
Posted: 07/23/2014
Mesquite, TX
Kforce Inc
Posted: 07/23/2014
San Diego, CA, 92121
Tactical Engineering and Analysis Inc.
Posted: 07/23/2014
San Diego, CA, 92124

Want more personalized results?  Update Your Profile

 
 
 

Monster Communities

Teaching Community
Where teachers meet and learn.
ArtBistro
Create and connect.
Excelle
Networking for the career-minded woman.
Nursing Link
Where nurses call the shots.
More Monster Communities

Monster Partners

Scholarships
Scholarships, financial aid and more ways to pay for school.
Education.org
Find top campus and online degree programs.
Military.com
Military portal for the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Financial Aid
Scholarships & financial aid.
Staffing for Government Jobs
Staffing and hiring solutions for federal government agency jobs.
More Monster Partners

Job Hunt Strategy

Six Ways to Make a Recruiter Hate You
If you want to blow your chances with recruiters -- and, by extension, with the companies they work for -- here are six perfect ways to do so.

Resumes & Cover Letters

Rev Up Your Resume to Relocate
Hoping to relocate? Get the ball rolling on landing the right job in the right location with these expert resume and cover letter tips.

Interviewing

100 Potential Interview Questions
Interview questions can run the gamut. You probably won't face all 100 of these, but you should still be prepared to answer at least some of them.

Salary & Benefits

10 Questions to Ask When Negotiating Salary
Most of us aren't natural negotiators, but asking these 10 questions during salary negotiations can help you get everything you deserve.

Employee Sourcing

Alt text
November Monster Employment Index Grows 13% Year-Over-Year, Tenth Consecutive Month of Positive Annual Growth.

For Seekers

Campus and Online Degrees
Advance your career and earn more with an online degree.
Free Salary Wizard
What are you worth? Find out and negotiate a better salary.
Research Careers
Get information on jobs and career paths to help guide your choices
Questions & Answers
Find answers to all your career related questions -- powered by Yahoo! Answers
Resume Distribution Service
Our distribution service puts your resume right in the hands of recruiters.
Resume Writing Services
Our experts will craft a keyword-rich resume that stands out in the crowd.
More Career Resources

For Employers

Career Ad Network
Target your job posting to more candidates on thousands of websites.
Hire Right Background Checks
Explore our background check packages to improve the quality of your hires.
Hiring Home Page
Find the best candidates for your business with Monster hiring solutions.
Job Postings
Find the right solution for your hiring needs. Starting at $99.
Power Resume Search
Monster's new search technology precisely matches people with your jobs.
Resource Center
Find staffing insights, labor trends, HR best practices and more.
Target Post
Connect with skilled, hourly and administrative candidates for only $99.

Social Media

Jobs on Twitter
Find jobs in your area and industry.
Monster Careers
Tune into our career advice and discussions tackling a wide range of topics and industries.
Monster Corporate & PR
Stay up-to-date on the latest news. Get the 'Who', 'What', 'When', and 'Why' on all things Monster related.
Monster Customer Service
Got a Monster question? We've got the answer. Whether you're a job seeker or employer, we can help you find the answers you need.
Monster for Employers
Find advice on hiring.
Follow Us
Check out our many pages and stay connected with the latest industry news, events, career advice and job openings.

Other Links

Monster Company Profiles
Explore companies and get information to guide your career decisions.
Compare Salaries
See how your pay stacks up to others in your field.
iPhone Application
Download the Monster app for iPhone and iPod touch.
Monster Job Seeker Blog
Monster Job Seeker Blog.
Monster Thinking Blog
Monster's Recruitment Trends Blog.
Jobs & Career Resources
Search Jobs:
For Employers: Post Jobs | Search Resumes | Advertise
About Monster | Work for Monster | Advertise with Us | AdChoices | Partner with Us | Investor Relations | Social Media
Terms of Use | Privacy Center | Accessibility Center | Help | Security | Contact Us | Sitemap | Mobile
©2014 Monster - All Rights Reserved U.S. Patents No. 5,832,497; 7,599,930 B1; 7,827,125 and 7,836,060 MWW - Looking for Monster Cable? - V: 2014.4.30.40-202
eTrustLogo