Guy tracks commute, gets 38% increase in vacation

Ramit Sethi · April 25th, 2006

Remember when I wrote 10 things about yourself that would surprise you, where I asked what would happen if you tracked things like how far you walk per day, how much you spend, how often you talk to your family, etc?

A guy named Brandon U. Hansen actually did. He tracked his commute–the thing we all complain about–for a year and figured out how to use a small change to save tons of time. Result:

Spread out over 50 work weeks, that results in a total savings of over 30 hours a year – the equivalent of about a 38% boost to my existing 80 hours of vacation.

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  1. Debt Hater

    Holy crap that “Beating Traffic” study looked complicated. I flashed back to the scientific journal articles I read in college and grad school.

    I would track how much time I spend watching TV. I think TV watching for me is the single biggest draw on my time. I notice when I don’t turn the TV on at all when I get home from work, I miraculously get twice as much done.

    I would also track how long it takes me to blog and read blogs. I do it often, but I bet it can be done more efficiently (subscribing to feeds for example). DH

  2. Elizabeth

    While I applaud this man’s dedication to precision and taking one of the most irritating events known to man-traffic-and creating an intellectual pursuit out of it, I have to totally disagree that saving 5 minutes in the morning and 2.5 minutes in the evening ads up to 38 hours of vacation time. Those separate moments are not additive. With 38 hours of continuous vacation time you can DO something. You can go on vacation, plant a garden, read a book, watch an entire season of 24 in one go. What can you honestly do with 2.5 extra minutes in the evening? True, if you apply this kind of efficiency to everything in your life you’ll have a lot more than 2.5 extra minutes in the evening, but psychologically and practically it’s not the same as five days of work free bliss.

  3. I track my Adsense earnings, but I haven’t gone as far as this guy, with statistical analysis and ANOVA and whatnot. Geesh, it’s been two semesters since I took a business statistics class, and all I remember about ANOVA is how to spell it.

  4. this suffers from one teeny tiny problem, aside from the problem of magically ‘saving’ time that you can’t use for anything…

    it requires math.

    I hate math. I have that Computer Science Geek desire to optimize EVERYTHING, but I’m also terrified of algebra and arithmetic makes me sweat.

  5. I did something similar but my calculations were much simpler. For 7 years, I had a 4 hour/day commute (1000 hours/year using 50 weeks/year). This included a bus, ferry, and shuttle. There were a few ways to reduce the time but they came at a high price (my commute was only costing me $1 per day with my employer paying for most of the monthly mass-transit pass).

    A year ago I changed jobs and moved 4 miles from work. For the first 4 months my commute was down to 30 minutes/day. For the past 8 months I’ve been able to work from home about 90% of the time. So now my commute is down to almost nothing.

    So in a years time, I went from 1000 hour/year to something like 12.5 hours/year (assuming I go into the office 10% of the time). The crazy thing is that I make more money and now have the equivilent of 25 days of additional vacation in commute time savings.

    So I’ve learned that commute time is definitely something to consider when evaluating jobs. If you use both work hours and commute hours when determing an hourly wage, you will often see a significant difference between jobs in terms of wages.

  6. Not to put this guy down, but the time spent doing this analysis probably added up to something more than combined daily savings, making the whole exercise kind of irrelevant.

    Outside of the uber-nerdy novelty that is. 🙂

  7. Luis Correa d'Almeida

    I actually relate to this guy and maintaining a short commute is something I value. I have been able to save literally 1 hour a day commuting every day since I last moved. That comes up to 5 hours a week, over 200 hours a year net!

  8. cmadler

    A much simpler solution, which unfortunately is not an option for all of us, is to use some form of public transportation. When you are not driving, it is much easier to make productive use of this otherwise wasted time.