How I "Defeated" Jakarta’s Traffic Jam

Usually, I never complained about Jakarta’s traffic jam. Not before I moved to a new office and new house. Right now, I have to travel around 30km to go to the office (so it doubled to 60km to go back and forth). It was fun driving that long before the traffic jam get worse and worse (and the worst yet to come). So, this is how I play “cat and mouse” with the traffic jam.

Jakarta’s traffic jam is probably one of the worst things happened to the people work and live in this city. No one could escape from it. While I realize that I couldn’t handle it, I try to handle myself to become better on how to avoid it. So here’s my personal analysis on the traffic jam that might occur throughout the day and how, later, I can avoid it and gain more productivity.

Please keep in mind that this is just for my own case and if you want to try it, make sure you’re OK with that. I’m not responsible for any effects that might occurs along with this ‘trick’ :)

Let’s start.

00.00 – 05.00
This is absolutely the time when the road unoccupied the most. You can only see one or two cars for one minute or two. Those were probably someone who in a hurry to catch a plane at the airport or traders who brought their goods to the nearest market.

05.00 – 06.00
The road started to packed with cars and motorcycles as early risers don’t want to arrive at the office late. It’s not yet jammed but it’s potentially cause a traffic jam for the following hours.

06.00 – 10.00
The worst traffic jam occurred in this time frame. The early risers (who aren’t arrive at the office yet) and those who woke up late joined in the biggest mass parking ever in Jakarta (that is, the traffic jam).

10.00 – 14.00
Since so many people started at 06.00 – 10.00 mostly already arrived at the office, this time frame usually better than the previous one. Still jammed but better. this time frame might be filled with marketing people, those who “plan” to start late, people going in a meeting, and lunch.

14.00 – 17.00
Still better but packed in some sort of roads. For my case, it’s the second best time to drive towards some places.

17.00 – 20.00
The second biggest nightmare after the morning one. People returning from their offices to their home.

20.00 – 00.00
This is the second best unoccupied road.

First Strategy

I rarely found myself (never, perhaps?) departing between 06.00 – 10.00. I might have traveled for as long as 3 hours just to get to the office. So I usually departed at 10am/11am and traveled for about 2 hours (one hour less compared to 6am-10am). However, the road seems more and more packed at that range of time. 2 hours become 2.5 hours. So, I try to change the strategy.

Second Strategy

I still departed at 10am but I took the opposite direction. No, my office hasn’t move yet but I took to the direction where I can take the Commuter Line (electric train). I need only 15 minutes from my house to the train station. I usually waited for 30 minutes maximum to get to the next train and it took only 30 minutes – 45 minutes to travel from the current station to the office’s nearest station. Total time needed: 15 + 30 + 45 = 90 minutes. Quite fast. But…
I have less to no control over the train. When it stopped for some reasons like flood, electricity failure, accidents, etc., I have to wait for more than 2 – 4 hours just to get to the office. If the situation got worse, I might decided not to go to the office and work from home instead.

Not so good strategy but better than the first one, if and only if everything is under control.

Third Strategy

This is the best strategy ever until today. It seems impossible at first because I never done this before. This third strategy required me to be more discipline with my daily routine and I have to mentally change my biological time. Let me explain more.

This strategy required me to woke up at 3am (yes, 3am). I prepare my self for nearly one hour (take a bath, have an early breakfast, etc.) and I start to departed at 4am. Since the road is nearly empty, I arrived at the office at 4.30 – 4.45am. 30 – 45 minutes.

I started to work directly after I arrived. By the 8 or 9am, I have finished half of my tasks of that day. I took a little sleep (as little as 15 to 30 minutes max) and start again. My tasks usually all finished just before everyone and I have our lunch. I took the lunch and then I took one hour (1pm – 2pm) to make a plan on what I will gonna do tomorrow. I left the office at 2pm and arrived at home at 3pm.

This strategy is really hard at first since I have a “bad” habit not to go to bed before midnight. But for the sake of productivity and a healthy life, I have no reason not to try it. I tried to move my schedule (coding, reading, learn new tech) from 8pm – midnight to 4pm – 8pm so I didn’t have anything left after 8pm and I can go to bed before 9pm. It’s still hard but hey, I’m a programmer I could program my own mind to follow this trick. Finally, it works.

Total time: 45 minutes (to office) + 1 hour (go home) = 1hrs 45minutes.


Now, let’s compare total time needed to go back and forth.

First strategy: 2hrs + 2hrs = 4 hours (minimum).
Second strategy: 90mins + 90mins = 3 hours.
Third strategy: 1 hours 45 minutes.

With this much time reduced, I stick with the third strategy until today and I’m happy with that. More productivity gain, more time for families, more time for hobbies, more time for coding, and more time for doing almost anything necessarily essentials for my life and my future.

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  1. Great analysis but I think not everybody has a freedom to choose when they departed to the office and when they went back home. Our office use absent machine and it’s not possible to enter the office before 6am because it will be recorded as “return-to-home time” instead of “arrive-at-the-office time”. Also, going home around 2pm will cost us a salary cut because we’re going home early (from the standard time 6pm).

    So yeah, happy to know you have a freedom like that. I wish I could have that kind of freedom.


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