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  • Writer's pictureLata Hamilton

Your Shift Starts When You Walk Out the Front Door: The ideal commute

Updated: Apr 28, 2023

Where you work & where you live should be within 20 minutes of each other. That’s all you need to know. Whether you drive, walk, cycle, ferry or fly to the office, 20 minutes is the sweet spot.


  • “But there’s no jobs in my area!”

  • “I get stuck in traffic!”

  • “The train is an express & only takes 1.5 hours… one way.”

  • “I have to work in the city!”

These are all stories you tell yourself to justify your own suffering. Trust me - I know.

I grew up in Frenchs Forest in Sydney, & worked in a cafe one suburb away. On weekdays, it was a 20 min walk to work from school. That was ok. But on the weekends, without any reliable buses, it was over 45 min walk to work… & on Sundays I’d work 7 hours.


A 20 min walk for a 7 hour shift is 5% of my working hours.

Back & forth = 10%.

A 45 min walk to work for a 7 hour shift is 11% of my working hours.

Back & forth = 22%.

Which means on the weekends I was spending ⅕ of my Sunday shift getting to & from work.

And here’s the secret… I was really working 8.5 hours. Because think about it - that time I spent walking to & from work on a Sunday wasn’t used for anything else. Yes, it was an hour & a half of light exercise, but not in proper gym gear with a warm up & cool down. And after working all day on my feet, walking an extra almost 2 hours was exhausting.


Even if you read or do work during your 1.5 hour train trip, the travel itself is tiring. Why do you think you feel exhausted after a long car trip even though you were sitting & doing nothing? Because your body has been travelling for several hours at over 100 km/h - it takes a toll. And don’t even get me started on peak hour traffic.

I spent my uni days driving to the city & back, & though it was just 20 min drive, I had to tack on a 20 min walk from the all-day parking zone, so it was really 40 min commute one way. I vowed to move to the city & walk to work. A few years later I did - a 20 min walk from Ultimo through Darling Harbour to the city.


Last year, I moved to Parramatta & my commute to the city became 1 hour & 15 minutes one way - a 20 min walk & a 30 min train, with the waiting & to & fro in between. I was exhausted ALL the time. In my line of work, Change Management, there weren’t many options in Parramatta. But I kept looking & within 6 months found an amazing role in the area, with a $50k pay rise & just a 15 min cycle to work.

Suddenly everything has changed - I have energy, I have time to work out properly & prepare healthy food, I work on my business, I’m in control of when I arrive at work & know that when I leave in the afternoon, I’ll be home in the blink of an eye. Because here’s my second secret:


Every minute you commute is a minute you take away from doing something for you. We all have the same amount of time in a day, a week, a year. But we get to choose what we do with it. There ARE jobs in your area, there are ways to AVOID traffic, 1.5 hours on a train is TOO LONG, & if you love the city - get thrifty & pay more to LIVE CLOSER to it! Trust me, getting to a 20 min commute will change your life.

I'm Lata Hamilton - Change Leadership and Confidence expert, Founder & CEO of Passion Pioneers, and the creator of the Leading Successful Change program.

Grab my free Underpaid & Overlooked Coaching Action Guide to learn how to change careers with confidence and earn your worth - download it here.


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