Body & Mind

5 Tips to improve your super commute experience

November 5, 2019
5 tips to improve your super commute experience

I love nature, and I love climbing.  In the last decade of me being a climbing hobbyist, I was able to explore many beautiful cities, unplugging myself from the craziness of San Francisco.  I knew I wasn’t happy in San Francisco, and I knew that I had to do something different for my situation to change.  So, I decided to take a break from a place I called home for 20+ years and and moved to Sacramento.

I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to explore full-time entrepreneurship.  I did for about a month until a perfectly fantastic career opportunity fell on my lap. By then, I’d already closed on a new place in Sacramento, discontinued my lease in and completely moved out of San Francisco. I suddenly transitioned into a super commuter, spending 3 hours on the road each way for work.

Note: Although it sounds bad, I was able to negotiate a pretty nice work schedule after the first ramp quarter.  So, I’m only going back and forth twice a week, 3 hours each way.

Ok, you’re reading this not because you want to really read about my journey to being a super commuter or my nuanced commute, you’re most likely a super commuter yourself and you’re looking for ways to make your super commute more…say bearable.  Although I’ve been only doing this for the last month, I’m already seeing some of the benefits from my new commute routine.  So, I want to share with you my experience, tips and gadgets that have made my super commuting journey not just more bearable, but something I’m beginning to look forward to. Here you go:

  1. Plan ahead – part I

As a super commuter, I don’t “wing” it the way I used to.  Before I moved to Sacramento, my commute was 9 minutes. 9 minutes of bike ride and I’m at work.  I can literally roll out of bed, throw some clothes on, bike downhill and in 9 minutes, I’m at work.  

The Helen today needs to get up a few minutes before 5 am, and because of my insane allergies, I need to have my lunch, work clothes and even coffee be ready before going on a 30-minute bike ride to the train station.  What does that mean? It means I have to think through things the night before. I know exactly what I’ll be eating for lunch the day before, pack all of my supplements for my allergies, my clothes to change into after an intense bike ride.  I also grind my coffee the night before so I’m ready to go the moment I get up. 

I schedule my packing time as well as the details of what I’ll be packing using my “Week Plan” app.  I’ve been using this app for the last several years now and I highly recommend anyone who’s a productivity geek like me.  

If your super commute involves driving, you really should plan ahead – including how you’ll make the best use of your driving time.  Do you want to catch up with your friends during your driving commute? Do you want to catch up on your audio books? Your podcast listening?  Do you want to record a podcast while you’re driving?  

2.) Plan even more – Part II

As for me, I use “Week Plan” to plan out what I’ll be doing during my commute.  For me, I do my “millionaire routines” in the morning (embed the million dollar book) followed by a super simple task to fill up my 2.5 hour long commute.  On my way home, I use my commute time to work on my passion project (writing this blog post for example).

3.) Kill two birds with one stone

I love biking.  Now that I live in the suburbs, I have a much longer but quieter bike ride to the train station.  

When I was living in San Francisco, biking even 1.5 miles to work makes me realize the miracle of life.  Not only do I have to watch for car drivers, bus drivers and random people who decide to step into the street for no reason, I also have to avoid potholes that are the size of a meteor.  I would still bike to work but it would be a stressful event.

Not in Sacramento.  

Not only do I have the opportunity to bike at least 3 times as long of a distance as I would be in San Francisco, biking in Sacramento is a meditative experience that really clears my mind.  

I understand that not everyone is a biker, but there are creative ways where you can incorporate exercise in your daily commute.  Or even spend the time commuting to do something that can improve the quality of your life. Here are some examples of what other commuters would you in/for their commute.

4.) iPad or tablet

My iPad with cellular is one of the best technology purchases I’d made in recent years.  When you have a super long commute, especially when you’re not driving, the last thing you want is to carry an extra book…or extra anything with you on the road.  You want you bag to be as light as possible. 

I’ve been traveling (both domestically and internationally) for years at this point. I am typing this blog post on my iPad, I read on my iPad and I also edit my videos using my iPad.  

One thing I’d recommend – purchase your phone or Tablet unlocked.  When it’s unlocked, you can insert your own SIM card and practically use it anywhere in the world.  Also, I highly recommend spending an extra few hundred dollars and buy an iPad/tablet that does not rely on WiFi (with cellular).  You may think that most places, including trains, offers WiFi. But most of their WiFi isn’t reliable. If one of the passengers decide to join the WiFi and download music/play games, you just can’t get any work done.


I was a career coach, and I’d written articles about dress codes and always be a little over-dressed than being underdressed or looking disheveled.  

Here’s a personal story. I was interviewing at the company I’m working at now. I was supposed to be meeting the Chief Marketing Officer that day and I decided to bike from the bus stop to the office. It was a little warm in San Francisco.  When I arrived at the office, something told me to check myself in the bathroom. So, I followed my instinct.  

Sure enough, I had HUGE sweat stains around my underarms and my ENTIRE back.  I was mortified! Thank God I was prepared with an extra black sweater. So, I immediately put on my sweater to hide my embarrassment!  Moral of the lesson? Carry an extra something with you – an extra sweater, jacket, extra whatever so you can always look your best at work rather than looking like you just went to the gym.  That’s why I recommend IAMRUN.

You don’t want to shove your work clothes into your bag and make it all wrinkled.  With IAMRUNBOX, you can organize your work clothes, put it in your backpack and change into your work clothes when you’re on the train. 

It’s not easy to have a super long commute, but it really isn’t as bad as what most people think as long as you plan in advance.  Before spending money on anything I recommend above, I strongly recommend you to talk with other super commuters, or find alternative transportation systems where you are able to make your new super commuting lifestyle as enjoyable as possible. 

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