It’s an interesting intellectual exercise, all this thinking about what might happen in the future and how we might get some project done. But does it really impact my life? How does effective or ineffective planning impact us on an individual basis?

Well, let’s ponder that question by looking at road construction and traffic. I’m from Chicago, which Forbes Magazine recently ranked as number 10 in terms of having the worst commuter traffic in the US. I no longer have a commute, because I moved close to the office, and I don’t miss it. The hours I spent on the road getting to work and getting home each day took a toll (pun intended).

The worst days for me happened when construction crews were behind schedule and did not open lanes closed for the previous night’s work before rush hour started. With close to half a million cars driving to downtown Chicago every day, a delay of just half an hour translates into 122 full-time work years of lost productivity. I know – I doubted the math as well! Let me show you how I calculated this number.

500,000 X .5 (half hour) = 250,000
250,000 /2048 (40 hours per week for 52 weeks) = 122

One small slip-up in planning a simple road repair can have a negative impact on your day as an individual – and an even bigger negative impact on our productivity on the whole.

  • Unqlefungus

    The impact is high, but maybe not that high. Your math assumes that all 500k commuters are affected by the half hour delay, as if there were construction delays on every route into town. But I’ve driven in Chicago, and always run into construction, so that assumption may be correct after all!