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Gus Van Horn blog

Reblogged:Using Traffic Jams

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Over at Unclutterer, Jeri Dansky gives advice on organizing for traffic jams. The implicit basic strategy is good: Avoid them if you can, but find a way to get some use of the time if you can't. Regarding the latter, a big one in my book -- at least when I am alone -- is as follows:

Pack the essentials

I always have a water bottle and some energy bars with me so I don't need to worry about getting thirsty or hungry. And I have a backlog of podcasts loaded to my smartphone to keep me happily occupied while traffic is slow (or stopped). Other people may prefer music, language lessons, or audio books in either CD or digital format.
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I would add a couple of other things that can help, particularly if there is some flexibility about when one needs to arrive.

First, on trips with few or no good alternate routes (a fact that renders Waze and the like a little less useful), check traffic before setting out. On those occasions when you can know about bad traffic in advance, delay your departure a bit and do something useful with the time.

Second -- and this is really a variant of the first -- on trips with at least one decent stopping point, have things in the car that can help you make better use of the time at that stopping point. Is there a Starbucks that you pass every day to work? Pull over there if traffic is atrocious, and get the story. (I have found timely explanations for particularly bad traffic in Patch, in the form of reports on very bad accidents.) If it's going to take a while to clear, read or work there until the worst has passed.

None of this is ideal, but it can be satisfying getting a small win out of an otherwise annoying and frustrating situation.

-- CAV

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