The Klang Valley resident is always caught in a jam. This does not refer to a crisis, difficult situation or disaster.

It refers to an actual traffic jam! ?

These days, it does not seem to matter what time of day it is. On certain roads, there are traffic jams at 7am and at 12 midnight! An endless stream of gridlocked cards can be seen on most major roads and highways at all hours of the day and night.

The reasons for this situation are numerous.

Yes, there are too many vehicles on the roads. Why? Because the public transport system can’t effectively handle the passenger load. So in order to expand the public transport system, the government came up with the MRT project. But unfortunately, that has served to cause even more traffic jams owing to extensive construction blocking roads and diverting traffic everywhere. So what is a driver to do?

As the saying goes, if you can’t beat them, join them… So instead of getting more and more frustrated and angry about being struck in traffic jams, which could lead to violent behavior such as bashing up other people’s cars with steering wheel locks, why don’t we just calm down and accept that traffic jams are a part of life.

In other words, instead of getting worked up and angry, let’s work on a plan to anticipate and address those negative feelings.

The key problem which being stuck in a traffic jam for hours on end, is boredom. If we examine the issue deeply enough, we find that it boils down to the fact that we do not like to feel bored. When we are bored, we start to feel restless and angry.

So what to do to fill up the time?


1. Audiobooks. Audiobooks on a variety of topics are available at most bookstores in CD form. You could buy these and listen to them in the car. The only glitch is that these are often quite expensive. There are however, a range of personal development audiobooks and other publications such as the classics, available for free download in audio format. You could download these, burn them on CD, and play them in your car. Or download them onto your phone and listen from there.

2. Podcasts. If you have an IPhone, you can subscribe to your favourite podcasts on ITunes or if you use an Android device, can just download podcasts onto your computer through ITunes and copy into your phone. Or, subscribe via Google Play Store.

3. Listen to the Radio. Yes, the radio. Remember it? With all our devices today, we may have forgotten about this. But there are plenty of good radio stations out there, such as BFM. Their offerings span a wide variety of topics and focus areas.

Learn a new language. Again, you could listen to a language CD in the car.

4. Read. If you really are stationery, meaning to say, really not moving at all, you could try catching up on your favourite book, newspaper or magazine while sitting in a traffic jam. Be warned however, this does not work if the jam is “moving”. You need to keep your eyes on the car in front and not end up bumping into it because you are busy reading!

5. Make phone calls. In today’s world we have little time to connect with family and friends. Use time spent in jams, to make phone calls on a hands free kit. Call up elderly relatives who might be housebound.

6. Think. Sitting around in silence can actually be beneficial. Use the time to think and plan, e ither for current and future projects or, strategise on your career or issues at work. Keep a pen and paper handy – jot down notes. Later, you can review the notes and enter the data into your laptop, or a notebook.

7. Meditate. Yes, meditate. “What?” I hear you say. “I have to make sure no one is cutting into my lane! I am not in the mood for meditation during traffic jams. “ But, that is a perfectly good opportunity for exactly that. Get some music that you like and play it. Use the time to calm yourself instead of making yourself more angry.

With some planning ahead and focus, you can turn time “wasted” in traffic jams into valuable time invested in your own personal development.


Personal finance author and trainer

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