Friday, September 13, 2013

Work as a mix of car and train

Recently I had to travel to Brussels several times. That’s a 2-3 hour drive by car or train from the city I live in. I usually travel by train. But with our little baby popping up any day I thought it would be best to take the car.

The great thing about commuting by car is that it takes me from the front-door of my house to the front-door of my client. But that’s about it. I have to sit in the car for a long time and do practically nothing. It gets even worse when the commute is prolonged by 1+ hour because of traffic jams.

This got me wondering about commuting and productivity. The great thing about traveling by train is I can do things. I can read, work on documents and presentations, make some calls, etc. It costs me some extra travel time, but the work I can get done makes up for it. (Of course, there are environmental reasons to mention here as well, but I’ll leave them out of the post for now.) On the other had, what I hardly do in the train is sit back and think. Or listen to a podcast.

Thinking and listening is something I do in the car. I usually make sure my phone has enough podcasts on them (e.g. the wonderful Shift podcast by Megan Murray and Euan Semple). I never listen to podcasts in the train or when I’m walking around. I always do this in the car. While this is great, it’s hard to jot down things that pop up in my head and I want to keep for later. Don’t you have that? That you’re listening to a podcast and think: Oh, wow, I want to blog about that statement! But after you get home it’s too much hassle to go through the podcast and find the statement, so you just don’t.

The car has another downside though. I know when I’m driving the work is piling up in my inbox. So when you get home from a car trip I basically have extra work to do. I usually don’t have this problem when traveling by train, because our trains have wifi(!) or I just use 3G. 

So, for me the train is best. But on another level, it struck me that the pro’s and con’s of both travel modes is what work should be. A mix of both. A mix of car and train. The train to do the writing, the car to listen and think. The train to get things done, the car to have space to think and organize things in my head. But I’d rather not do that in a traffic jam if I have a choice…

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