Commuters Manage Their Time Better Than You Do



Commuters race around New York City while residents sleep soundly, but they make the most of every minute.


Imagine waking up at 8 a.m. so that you can get ready for your 8:30 a.m. class. What a dream, right? For some blessed individuals, it’s easy to imagine — they do it all the time. We call these people Fordham Lincoln Center (FLC) residents. They have it easy. 

Now, imagine waking up at 5:30 a.m. to take a shower and have breakfast so that you can catch the 6:28 a.m. train to Penn Station. This is the life of a Fordham commuter student. It’s brutal. 

When I talk about commuters, I mean those who live at home with their parents or independently in one of the five boroughs. Commuters here at FLC have a range of commuting times depending on where they live, anywhere from an hour and 15 minutes from Dix Hills, Long Island, like me, to a 40-minute subway ride from Brooklyn. Even a walk down 9th Avenue from off-campus housing is more of a hassle than the FLC dorm-to-classroom tunnel shuffle.

But there is a hidden advantage to this consuming transit time: commuters become more efficient time managers. 

Prior to college, I was an enormous procrastinator. Why? Because I lived 10 minutes from my school, and my high school finished at 2 p.m. 

When I got home, I took a nap, grabbed a bite to eat and maybe went to the gym. It was simply not in my best interest to begin my homework as soon as I got home. 

Here at FLC, residents are able to go to their classes with a sufficient amount of sleep and a good breakfast, lunch or dinner — but that’s not possible for me. Commuters are constantly racing against time, trying to make a minute seem like an hour. 

With minimal time available to commuters, it is only reasonable to assume that we have to be better at managing what little time we have. Personally, I have found myself constantly reading chapters for my history class on the train ride home. Most days, I spend time reading my next theology text, or I’ll decide to tackle my tedious microeconomics homework instead of taking a nap or going out to lunch with a few friends.

Commuters like to participate in club activities as much as residents, but most clubs meet in the evening. If a commuter has a class that finishes at 11:15 a.m. and a club that meets at 5:30 p.m., they are forced to stay in school and wait around for hours. It makes no sense to take a train ride home just to come back to school at a later time. Might as well do what commuters do best: make those hours upon hours of down time count.

On Thursdays, I have jujitsu practice at 8 p.m., but my last class ends at 11:15 a.m. Usually, I stay in the library at school and finish whatever homework I have for the next day. jujitsu practice usually lasts until 9:30 p.m., so after jujitsu, I have to bolt to catch the LIRR. 

Sometimes, even the best time management skills can be thwarted by forces frustratingly beyond our control.

Among all this traveling, sleep disappears. So far, I have missed an earlier train three times because the A or C train did not arrive at the Columbus Circle subway station in time for me to get to Penn Station. On those three nights, I arrived at home at 12 a.m. On Friday, I usually wake up at 6:45 a.m. so that I can take the train to school for a 10 a.m. class. 

That means that if I’m ready for bed at 1:30 a.m., I only get five hours and fifteen minutes of sleep every Thursday night. Now, I also have a class at 8:30 a.m. twice a week which requires that I arise from my slumber at 5:30 a.m. Usually, I go to bed at 1:30 a.m., so that means that twice a week, I only get four hours of sleep. 

Three times a week, I become a zombie. But guess what? I still get to class on time.

This is just my schedule and how I do work. It’s not hard to imagine that some other commuters have schedules that are easier to deal with (I salute those who have it harder). Yet, despite my complete lack of sleep, I still manage to stay on top of my work. In a sense, the minimal amount of hours available for sleep forces me to stretch minutes into hours when completing coursework. The faster and more efficiently that I do my work, the more sleep I get. Now, when I get home at noon, I usually do some work, take a shower, grab something to eat and then go back to bed.

The fast-paced motion of daily life becomes the only thing keeping commuters from falling behind in their courses. As opposed to residents, we commuters have a strict concept of time. We know we are working with a disadvantage, so we make the most of our situation. Residents can afford to take a nap or take a stroll around Central Park, while commuters are forced to sprint to the local subway stations. Yet, despite this disadvantage, we commuters rise to the challenge and turn the handicap in our favor.