Suffering in traffic – not an option
CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - September 26, 2016 - 12:00am

There is a gambler in every Filipino who drives to work and home everyday. What are the odds that if you leave Makati BCD at 5 pm on a Friday during the rainy season when thunderstorms are a daily occurrence (and for added difficulty let’s make it a payday) What are the chances that you won’t make it home northbound until after 3, 4 or 5 hours? It’s a no brainer for most commuters and daily drivers. They know the facts, lived through the experience, yet for some unexplainable reason many or most of them will curse, text, post their way through Carmagedon hoping against hope they’ll be the punk who gets lucky and gets home faster than expected! They never do and they never will. It is almost as if Metro Manila Traffic is the equivalent of the Casino that always wins billions in lost time, fuel and productivity.

There is however some ray of hope as people start sharing solutions and encouraging others to try a different approach or even a different lifestyle in order to improve their situation or get the most out of an imperfect scenario. They simply made a change of address, schedules, business, engagements and even behavior.

In the ’70s the spiel was to live far away as possible from work so you “can get away from it all.” But in today’s weekly reruns of Carmagedon, the stress now comes from going to work and going home from work. The new mantra today is to live close to work for the week thereby saving money on gas, tolls, and parking space and stress by finding a sleep-in place or “Crash pad” during the week. Several families and individuals we know have opted to buy or rent “studio units” or condominium units to sleep in. They eat out or eat lite, live minimalist lives and go “Home” early Saturday or take turns returning to their primary home. The plus points come from spending more time together and learning life skills without domestic helpers!

It’s not a bad idea especially for older executives who eventually plan on retiring outside Metro Manila since they can turn over the unit/s to their children who in turn will need centrally located flats. Even regular employees who bail out so much for food, transport and lost time ought to consider co-renting or co-owning flats just like crowd funding. It’s a good investment towards a better quality of life as well as real estate since property values generally stay up while rentals in the future can come in handy or grow over time if kept in a no-touch account.

If a change of address feels too radical, you could also consider rearranging your activity schedules and share the idea with others. I now schedule most of my meetings during breakfast around Barrio Kapitolyo along Shaw Boulevard. This turned out to be very useful because most people welcome the “midway pause” in their rush hour drive to Makati, everybody looks forward to a nice and pleasant breakfast, parking is so easy in the morning and we all have the rest of the day to look forward to without having to rush or watch the clock. Of course not everybody has that luxury but if you can work part of your activities in such a way, you are taking control and reducing the hours under stress.

Plan out your days, route and shuffle schedules to achieve efficiency in terms of where you go and when you do things. Most executives I know burn out due to overload or not being able to say no to others and to themselves. A few have the bad habit of driving or moving all over the place, not planning their schedule alongside their routes and not using technology apps such as WAZE and Google Map. When it comes to appointments, you have a better chance catching me Mid-Week than the rest of the week or between Friday till Monday. I long figured out that barely anything gets done or is achieved from 3 pm onwards on a Friday while Mondays are slow. So if I can, I do my meet ups mid-week. I also do my errands around 10:30 to noon when the rush hour has somewhat thinned out.

It’s now a gamble to host meetings, press conferences or launches on Friday evenings because you end up having to wait for late guests due to Carmagedon. Then you’re stuck with guests who won’t leave until the roads have cleared up. I’ve actually noticed that Thursday is now the new “Week-ender” for events and Fridays are for cleaning up. So pick the “No-Go” days for you, days when traveling or commuting is not an option or when meetings are minimized to a specific time and area.

You can also introduce changes in how you do business that benefits you or your customers. On two occasions my wife Karen and I have had to drive from Pasig to Magallanes, Makati to have a computer serviced or to pick-up the same. It never occurred to us to ask if they have a messenger who does pick-up or deliveries. Turns out they even have technicians who services computers as well as fixes WIFI problems at home.

Karen has minimized trips to pay utility bills, trips to the banks by simply making on-line payments, deposits and fund transfers. On many occasions we have utilized LBC to send documents and even small equipment such as chargers, phones, cables etc. to our place in Lipa whenever something needed gets left behind. Use technology and services in order to reduce your footprint as well as wasted time in traffic. You are better off doing more productive things at home or in the office.

If after all your best effort you find yourself unavoidably caught somewhere, make the best and the most of it. Don’t jump in the car like a lemming following the trail. Read that book you’ve wanted to read while sipping coffee or tea. Go to the hardware store and make your wish list, check out some new stuff and new places or just go catch a movie. When you have choices and alternatives, suffering in traffic should not be an option.

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