We have all been there — traffic snarls or delays on the way to or from work.
It might be an accident, a broken-down bus or a strike by train drivers. Or it could be wild weather, lane closures because of road works in the middle of peak hour, or a mechanical failure on the ferry.
If your daily commute leaves you marinating in misery, you are not alone.
A one-hour return commute each day for five days and 48 weeks a year will consume a whopping 240 hours of your time — equivalent to 10 days and nights.
Each form of commute — be it by road, rail or water — brings with it its own set of issues.
For those who drive there is loneliness and road rage.
For those on a bus or train, it is the smelly stranger next to you and the waft of stale perfume throughout the carriage.
You spend most of your commute clock-watching and then panic at signs of brake lights on the horizon, an unscheduled or lengthy stop at the train station or strong fumes wafting through the aisle of your bus — a possible hint of a looming breakdown.
A bus-load of research over the past 10 years can prove the daily commute is much more than a mere inconvenience.
In fact, the daily shuttle impacts on productivity, health and happiness.
One study suggests those with longer commutes have more unplanned absences than those with shorter trips.
Another revealed those with longish commutes were more prone to gain weight.
And other studies suggest long commutes, particularly during peak hours, can drive up blood pressure and contribute to sleep problems.
Experts believe our actions in what they call “the third space” can help us manage the trip to and from work far more effectively.
They say if we treat our commuting time as a period of transition — our third space — we might be better prepared to tackle what lies ahead of us and use our travel time more efficiently.
If on the way to work we occupied the time by mentally mapping out our day, we may be able to hit the ground running when we arrive in the workplace.
We might have rehearsed a presentation, prioritised jobs for the day or planned a difficult conversation.
On the way home, we might use our third space to wind down and turn our attention to our partners, friends, pets or enjoyable activities. But if you think the notion that your commute offers a chance for a third space that could ease the stress of moving from one environment to another is a flight of fancy, there is another option.
Find a job that will enable you to walk or cycle to work.
Unlike those who commute by car, train, bus or ferry, walkers and cyclists often report that their commute is the happiest and most enjoyable part of their day.
Professor Gary Martin is chief executive officer with the Australian Institute of Management WA