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U.S. Workers Spend 226 Hours a Year Commuting, Data Shows

The Motley Fool logo The Motley Fool 10/17/2019 Maurie Backman

For employees who work in an office, commuting is a part of life. But there comes a point when too much commuting could destroy your work-life balance and put you in a bad mood on a regular basis.

The average U.S. commuter spends a whopping 226 hours a year in transit to get to and from work, according to Car Insurance Comparison. The average one-way commute takes 26 minutes, which equates to 52 minutes a day. Multiply that by 261 workdays during the year, on average, and you get 13,572 minutes, or just over 226 hours, on the road.

Of course, that's just an average. In some cities, the typical commute is much longer.

a view of a city street filled with lots of traffic: Highway full of cars that are close to each other © Getty Images Highway full of cars that are close to each other

If you're tired of wasting away in traffic or spending far too much of your limited time stuck on a bus or train, it pays to explore your options for shortening your commute. In doing so, you'll reclaim hours that can then be used to catch up on deadlines, take care of personal tasks, or just plain enjoy the downtime all workers need.

1. Try traveling off peak

A big reason why so many workers spend an insane amount of time commuting is that they're doing so when the roads are busiest. The solution? Ask your manager for the option to commute at off-peak times. For example, rather than having to report to your desk at 8:30 or 9:00 in the morning, see if it's possible to arrive at your office by 7:30 so that you're able to travel at a time when the roads are less busy, or when buses and trains are less likely to be subject to delays. And then, do the same on the way home -- leave early to beat traffic.

If you're not a morning person, ask to come in later and leave later. If you're a solid performer whose role lends to flexibility (meaning, you're not the receptionist who must answer phones during a specific window), then chances are, your manager will comply.

2. Carpool

If you drive to work, carpooling won't necessarily shorten your trip, but it will buy you back a few hours a week that aren't wasted sitting at the wheel. When you're the driver, you can't check your email or review project notes to get a jump-start on the day. But if it's somebody else's turn to drive, you can do all of those things as a passenger.

3. Ask to work from home

These days, a growing number of companies are letting employees work from home to some degree. If you're tired of wasting time commuting, make the case for doing the same. A good way to go about it is to ask to work remotely on a partial basis -- say, one to two days a week -- and then possibly work your way up from there. Or, it could be the case that a couple of days of remote work per week is all you'll get -- maybe your boss wants to see your face some of the time. But for each day you don't have to physically show up at the office, you'll get to reclaim hours you'd otherwise waste.

Shortening your commute can save you time, money, and stress. If you're tired of logging in so many hours on the road, don't be afraid to express your frustration to your boss and see what solutions they are amenable to.

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