Do you ever start a work week feeling like you're already behind?
You must know how it is: Even before you darken the door of your office on the first day of the week, you feel you have no chance of completing all you need to do.
That's how I feel every time I come back from a three-day weekend. I love spending time at home with my family on days like Labor Day, but when I return to my cubicle, I need to do all of that Monday work and the Tuesday work.
It's like this: Last week, I was trying to figure out how to find time to write this column. I didn't want to do it on Monday and ruin my day off, but I wasn't sure how I could fit it in on Tuesday.
That's when a decision I made about four months ago paid off once again.
Until May, I commuted by car from my home in the central Salt Lake Valley to the Deseret News offices downtown. But, not having to go out on assignments like the reporters, I didn't have to drive. Since I became an editor at the newspaper, I've practically been chained to my desk.
However, every time I considered taking the bus or train to work, I talked myself out of it. I needed the flexibility to come and go as I pleased, I reasoned. If I took the train, it would make my work days longer, because I would be depending on someone else's schedule.
And besides, who wants to ride on a train or bus with all of those other commuters? I wanted to be free to sing along with old '80s rock tunes at the top of my lungs without fear of offending others.
Then gas prices skyrocketed, and I gave TRAX another look. Considering what I could save at the pump and on parking, I decided to give it a shot.
So, in May, I rode TRAX for a week, just to see if I could stand it.
Unless I have been scheduled for a late-night shift that doesn't match the train schedule, I haven't driven to work since, and riding the train has made a huge difference in my life.
I can relax on the way to or from work, catching a catnap between the stations. I can listen to my iPod. Or, best of all, I can read. It's been years since I've felt like I really have time to sit down and read a novel, and now I have about an hour a day to do just that.
The other thing I can do, if necessary, is try to get a little work done. Which is why I wrote this column on my laptop while riding on TRAX.
Not everything about riding the train is ideal. I had to adjust to the transit system's schedule. It's hot in the rail cars on summer afternoons, and there's not always a seat available if I hit a busy time of day. Every now and then, I end up sitting next to someone who smells like a hobo who has been digging in a refrigerator full of rotten food.
And sometimes when I'm working during the ride, I worry about people reading over my shoulder. (By the way, buddy, thanks for catching that spelling error.)
But overall, riding the train has been good for me. I arrive at work better rested and less frustrated, because I haven't had to deal with morning traffic. And I can catch up on work during the trip, which gives me more time to attack the things I have to do in the office.
Best of all, I've found that I am getting home earlier, because I make sure I leave work in time to catch a certain train. Riding TRAX has, in that way, forced me to be a little more organized, and I think that's always a good thing.
So, if any of you other office drones have yet to try public transportation because you have been loath to give up the freedom of your own sweet ride, I advise you to reconsider. You may find that riding the train or bus will save you frustration and time, as well as money, all while making you a better-rested, more-productive employee.
Give it a try, and let me know if you agree.
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