Work It: Protecting the time you have
by Mike Pihlman
Jul 12, 2013 | 1957 views | 3 3 comments | 129 129 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Coming off a wonderfully cool week in the fireworks booth, here is quick look at what I think is the most important savings you gain by telecommuting:


When I was working at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, my friend Clint and I commuted. Not every day, but it could have been, had we not been pains in our boss’ you-know-where.

Our jobs could easily be done from home, except for those rare occasions when we needed to go in to install or replace hardware. FYI: We developed, designed, and ultimately operated the world’s largest IP-based video conferencing service at the time, in the early 2000s.

Our typical commute day went like this:

Up at 5 a.m., shower, dress, eat. Clint arrives outside my house at 5:50 a.m. (This was a critical time, because if we left after 6 a.m., traffic was horrid.) We decided what car to take, then piled our stuff into that car and took off.

Hitting Interstate 205 by 6 a.m. — hopefully with coffee — we joined the crowd until we hopped off in Livermore at Collier Canyon Road. We both love the back roads and several times drove them completely. We wangled our way to Interstate 680 north and then to Route 24, hopping off at Fish Ranch and then Grizzly Peak.

We slowly made our way to the back of the lab and to work. By the time we walked up thousands of stairs to our offices, it was, normally, between 8 and 8:30 a.m.

At 5 p.m., we reversed our course, arriving in Tracy between 7 and 7:30 p.m. — assuming there were no accidents, no cows in the road, etc.

Four to five hours per day were wasted driving to a central work location where we did exactly the same thing we could do from home or a coworking location. The only difference was that we were present (and tired) in the meetings — rather than joining in, refreshed, by video conferencing.


Let’s look at doing this 50 weeks a year for 20 years. How much time are you taking out of your life by commuting?

Assume five hours commuting per day, five days a week. That is 25 hours per week — one full day of your life.

Fifty weeks a year, 1,250 hours per year — 52 full days of your life. Multiply that by 20 years and you get 25,000 hours — 1,041 full days of your life.

Try to get that back. You can’t.

  • Mike Pihlman has been a Tracy resident since 1985. He co-wrote the first telecommuting plan at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 1990. He practices what he preaches at AltamontCowork in Tracy.
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July 15, 2013
This essay lacks imagination. The author’s imagination is constricted by a context he is unable to transcend because he seems to believe a larger reality is beyond change (yes, I realize he proposes a change that would modify his existence).

This is evident with BackInBlack’s sentiment. He is so enthralled with “efficiency” he deems 8 hours of sleep a waste of time (“throwing away”).

An aside: I believe the “private” sector can be more efficient, but I also believe the private sector is unable to employ all those who ought to work (perhaps the reason the “public” sector is swelling).

There is something inefficient about too many non-contributors in a community.

The context defines the term(s). An example of this: the belief the southern border can’t be secured. Too many constricted minds don’t want it secured.

I think working a particular job 40 hours or more a week is a waste of time, but I realize some people enjoy doing what they do for pay and even argue they would do it for free (?).

You create the context, you define the world, you determine its values, and you, ultimately, determine a plan that seems best to benefit you.

July 12, 2013
To expand on Mike's point a little, if a person sleeps 8hrs per day, right there you are basically throwing away a third of your life.

Example, if 60 years old you have only been "active" for 40. Throw in the time spent in traffic, standing in line, even sitting on the toilet, and you can probably subtract another 5 -10 years. It's part of life but kind of scary to think about.

I agree with Mike's main point, use time wisely and efficiently, start by sleeping 5-6 hrs max. If like I do you can work from home don't look at it as yippie! more time to sleep or dinky do around, look at it as more time to work and get things done. Take the extra hour or two to workout, run, or get chores done around the house, etc.
July 12, 2013

Take the extra hour or two to workout, run, or get chores done around the house, etc.

Or just sit around the house all day, pretend to be a know it all, and comment on everybody elses comments on the TP.

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