Workplace Trends

Workplace Economy

Five Tips to Maximize a Long Commute

By Lee Hecht Harrison on May 29, 2012

Is a longer commute in your future?  With unemployment hovering at 8.1 percent, many job seekers are considering longer commutes to broaden employment opportunities into those geographic areas that are experiencing higher levels of job growth. 

According to the BLS, regional and state unemployment rates were little changed in April, 37 states and the District of Columbia posted unemployment rate decreases and five states registered rate increases, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia recorded unemployment rate decreases from a year earlier, while only one state (New York) experienced an increase (from 8.0 percent in April 2011 to 8.5 percent in 2012). The national unemployment rate was little changed from March at 8.1 percent but was 0.9 percentage point lower than in April 2011.

In April 2012, the largest statistically significant job gains were in Indiana (+17,100), Iowa (+5,800), and Arkansas (+5,500) while job losses occurred in New Hampshire (-4,800) and Alaska (-2,300).

Regionally, the West again recorded the highest regional jobless rate in April (9.5 percent), while the Midwest again registered the lowest rate (7.2 percent). Significant changes occurred in the Midwest and South (-1.2 percentage points each) and West (-1.0 point) from April 2011 to April 2012.  Source: BLS

For job seekers who live in a region with slow job growth, opportunities may be few and far between.  As new jobs open up, job seekers need to re-evaluate the geographic markets they’re targeting to see if they’re being realistic in terms of what’s available.  In many cases, target markets should be expanded to include potential employers beyond a short commute from home.  Longer commutes are becoming more common as competition heats up for newly available positions.  If you’ve joined the burgeoning ranks of the new long-distance commuters (or if you’re considering it as an option to increase your employment opportunities), here are some tips for making the most of your time in transit:

1. Know your commuting options.  Check with your employer (or potential employer) or local transit company to see if they have a share-a-ride program.  Carpooling is convenient and provides the opportunity to text, make calls, spend your time reading the paper, or preparing priority lists for the day.  Many organizations provide employees who use public transportation (bus, train, ferry or registered vanpool) with a tax-free employer-paid subsidy.

2. Learn while you commute.  iTunes university offers 500,000 free recorded lectures, books, and videos from universities such as Stanford, Yale, Oxford and UC Berkeley, as well as institutions like MoMA and the New York Public Library; supplies more than 100,000 audiobooks, radio shows, podcasts and speeches for download.  Master a new language through Rosetta Stone recordings or other language resource. 

3. Jumpstart the creative process with journaling.  If you’re carpooling or using public transportation, spend some time in the morning journaling.  Take a notebook and write down random thoughts for 10 minutes.  You’ll soon discover that writing jumpstarts the creative process.  On the way home from work, develop your priority list for the next day while everything is still fresh in your mind.

4. Use commuting time to stay connected.  Check your Facebook and Twitter pages for news updates.  Use this time to monitor your LinkedIn news feed, catch up on industry news, connect with business associates or participate in group discussions.

5. Quiet your mind.  Enjoy the scenery and let your mind wander.  Have a portable recording device handy to capture creative ideas or even bullets for an outline or presentation.  When the brain relaxes, creativity pushes to the forefront.

2 Responses to “Five Tips to Maximize a Long Commute”

    • Lee Hecht Harrison

      Thanks, Terrance! Appreciate your comments. Commuting can suck up a lot of time so finding ways to make it more productive can really reduce stress and make it more enjoyable.


Leave a Reply