Most of us don’t think much about a short drive to work. If we drive 15 to 20 miles, it may not seem like that much of a commute. And if it’s less than that, then we probably hardly counted it at all when we moved into our home or evaluated that aspect of our current job. However, a short distance during “off hours” for traffic can turn into a nightmare during high-volume traffic times of day. All that sitting and waiting, stopping and starting, and idling could be costing you a lot more than you think.

Commuting has a lot of costs outside of the monetary ones that we often don’t factor in. Assume, for the moment, that you know what terrible gas mileage you’re getting because of all the traffic  and you understand the wear and tear on your car that the odometer won’t reflect because it doesn’t tally minutes sitting and idling – and all too often, overheating! Let’s look at the other costs of commuting that I know I, for one, did not even notice until I started telecommuting several days a week:

It sounds crazy, but sitting in traffic will wear you out! This leads to less energy for the family and interferes with your focus when you finally get to work. It can also cause you to neglect health issues like daily exercise and healthy eating in exchange for a fast, easy out like fast food and no cardio at all.

People who sit in traffic on a regular basis, according to some studies, are a full three times more likely to experience heart attacks in their lifetime. Sound overblown? Think about the stress and the utter futility that you experience when you are trapped in your car on the freeway – or even just when you are navigating city streets with low speed limits and lots of twists and turns trying to get to work on time. That is indisputably stress on your heart!

Loss of personal time
You don’t get paid for that commute, and you don’t get much good out of it either. Many people attempt to override this problem by listening to soothing music and trying to relax while they drive or by trying to get some form of work done in the car. Either way, however, it is personal, unpaid time that you put in for work every time you sit in that car and wait for the light to change or the wreck to clear.

This is not designed to make you hate your job and its commute. Rather, I just want you to think about the time and toll that your commute may be taking. Possibly you can work out a way to make that time more useful for yourself or even determine a way to save all sorts of trouble and money by working from home.



You have probably heard and read plenty of articles and advice about how in order to succeed in the corporate world on any level, you have to have tough skin. However, talking about toughening up and actually achieving a skin-thickening are two very different propositions. Several years ago, I worked for a man who ran a great company, had a great sense of ethics and was totally devoted to his customers and his company's integrity. He was also a jerk.

No way around it: that is the only way to describe him. He may have had a heart of gold, but he was a total drain on the emotional state every time he entered the office. He had no patience with me as his assistant, and he had even less with the other people who worked with him. Needless to say, this made my job pretty complicated on a number of levels.

Fortunately, one of my dear mentors gave me a hint to dealing with this kind of behavior that I will now pass on to you. I realize that basic human nature makes us want to say, "If so-and-so can't treat me with respect, then I cannot work here." However, sometimes basic human nature also says you need to eat and clothe yourself and your family, so you need to keep working in your position. And I have found that many times learning to deal with the intractable and the impossible makes you a truly desirable assistant - virtual or otherwise - because this is a skill that most people do not have.

So next time your employer is ranting and railing, hollering and screaming or just plain in a bad mood and taking it out on you, follow this action-series:

1.    In your head, say "Thanks for the help! You brightened my day!" I'm going to recommend against saying it out loud because it probably will come out too sarcastic.

2.    Thank them aloud for their input. Keep your face as impassive as possible.

3.    Ask for a suggestion on how you can improve their experience in the future, and whatever they say (this is important) - write it down right in front of them.

4.    Summarize your interaction in a brief email: "Dear Mr. Jones, I was disappointed to learn that you were inconvenienced this morning because of X. I have taken note of your recommendation that I do X (whatever you wrote down earlier, minus profanity if they were really on a roll), and will work hard to implement this strategy in the future. Thank you for your time and your advice on this matter."

By the time you have finished this four-step series, you will find that not only are you calmed down, but in many cases your employer will watch their "feedback" more carefully when they are compelled to read about it later. Your skin will thicken as you realize that everything is not your fault and that you are taking proactive steps to improve the situation, and you will likely develop a better working relationship with your boss in the process.