Harry here. Sometimes it’s not the strategy, spreadsheets, or analysis that make Uber and/or Lyft drivers great. Sometimes, it’s the intangible things it’s hard to put numbers to. Today, senior RSG contributor Christian Perea gives us tips on how to become a better Uber/Lyft driver – no spreadsheet needed.
We talk a lot on this blog about ways to earn more as a driver, and a lot of our writing involves analysis, strategy, and generally trying to be more clever than the average driver. But some of the most important keys to being a successful driver are actually pretty simple: things like health, sleep, and food can have a big impact on your ability to earn.
I know its not simple, the odds can feel stacked against us when our job involves spending long, strange hours in a rolling metal box. Our sleep schedules are often regulated by “Peak Hours” and “Quest Pay” that require driving strange hours. We become prone to processed fast-food to save time since we need to get to our next fare. If you smoke, it’s harder to quit when your job involves “navigate rush hour traffic 2x a day” and “don’t threaten your passengers.”
So, here are some of the basic tips that I used to make sure I stayed in right the headspace while driving 60 hours a week:
1. Plan and Pack Healthy Food & Snacks
This probably sounds obvious, but I found that it was always tempting to “promise to do it tomorrow” when I just wanted to get on the road. It’s only a few extra dollars a day to eat out and to be honest, I enjoy a good meal as a way to escape my car and the weird people that I drive. However, eating healthy has a ton of benefits.
You might think this is a good way to save money, and you would be right. Planning your meals allows you to spread the costs of eating over the course of the week. That savings adds up quickly because even the cheapest fast food is more expensive. But I actually think the money saving part of this equation isn’t as important as the other side.
When I drove full-time, I focused more on planning my meals around their nutrition and how they would make me feel after I ate them. I didn’t do this because I am a health freak, but because I was Type II diabetic and on the road, cheap food = feel horrible for 2 hours OR buy healthy food = costs less than a new pancreas. So I tried to pack food that was predictable.
I didn’t always get it right. When I did though, the results in what I earned that day were quite noticeable. Eating well resulted in being able to be alert longer and driving more with the right focus to get the money I needed. It definitely made me more efficient. When I got it wrong, I would spend an hour napping in a parking lot with my feet kicked out the window.
2. Go For A Walk On Your Breaks
I think most of us take breaks in between driving. Most of those breaks tend to be focused on kicking the seat back and staring at our phones while still sitting in the car. Which isn’t really so much a “break” from driving as much as it is just doing the same thing in a different position. My best breaks though were when I would park the car and take a walk around my city. This actually did 2 important things for me at the same time:
- It allowed me to get away from my car, stretch out my legs, and take my eyeballs off my phone screen.
- I used it to scout for parking/stakeout locations around busy bar areas in advance of the 2AM surge.
I’ve driven in San Diego, Santa Barbara and San Francisco. After driving all of these people, to all of their interesting fun plans for the night I often felt like I was missing out a little bit. Walking around reminded me that there was more to life than working and allowed me take advantage of the flexibility of the job. It even made me a much better driver because I got to know the popular areas, parking lots, alleyways, driveways near all the bar spots, which made my pickups and drop-offs better.
3. Sleep 8 Consecutive Hours
The busiest times are the mornings when everyone goes to work, the evenings when people go out, and late into the early AM’s on the weekends. I need a lot of sleep otherwise I become a little
murderous cranky. This can be hard given when things are busy, so I suggest sticking to one schedule and realizing you cannot feasibly drive during EVERY busy/peak hour.
Driving without enough sleep can be tempting at times because you want to hit busy hours or get peak rides. However, is also dangerous and when you drive while feeling crappy, it tends to result in crappy driving. One accident can more than ruin any extra money from not getting enough sleep.
4. Have a Caffeine Strategy
I live on caffeine. I basically convert caffeine into money and urine. Without it, I turn into a zombie and will stumble around your neighborhood without even knowing I’m awake. Some people say that caffeine is not good for you or something but I’m gonna share a secret: Those people are liars.
Timing & Dosage
Too much caffeine leads to dehydration and anxiety. It also leads to a crash a few hours later after having too much. So I find its best to span each serving out over the course of a couple hours. Keeping it to one coffee in the morning, afternoon, and evening. I try to keep it to 250 mg per serving. So that’s a Rockstar energy drink or a large coffee with a shot of espresso. Your sensitivity is probably different. If I do it right I can hammer out back to back rides for 12 hours until Lyft kicks me off their app.
It’s also important to drink enough water. Otherwise you will feel more tired/drained than before you had your coffee.
Warning: Caffeine Makes You Pee
Remember, having too much caffeine will not only lead to anxiety and dehydration but it will also make you have to pee. A lot. Nobody advertises this about driving, but it can be hard to find a bathroom where someone won’t give you the stink eye for not buying something. Of course, we try to hold it in until we can’t anymore. Unfortunately, whenever I decide to take a break I look down at my phone screen and see this:
5. Make Some Driver Friends
I’m talking about real drivers, in person, that you can hangout or meetup with. Facebook groups are okay, but to be honest I get burnt out from them pretty quickly.
Being social is good for morale. It also gives you a way to network and uncover local strategies. You can even start a driving club and make cool jackets. In all seriousness though, I think one of my favorite parts of driving was when I met other drivers at a Lyft driver event (they used to have socials in every city, every week).
I think a lot of drivers get burnt out because they feel alone on the road. It is one of the most common things I see among drivers. There are places you can go to make friends or business associates with like-minded people. The airport lot is a good place to start. Personally, prefer having a few close friends in a chat on Voxer or Zello so we can talk while we drive.
6. Get Athletic/Running Shoes
Whenever I drive for long periods of time, my foot begins to cramp up from hitting the brake/gas/brake/gas/OMG BRAKE pedal 1000 times an hour. On top of this, my ankle would always get sore from shifting my feet. So much so, that I actually wore out the ankle portion of my shoes before any other part, putting a big hole in the part of my shoes that my foot uses to pivot between the brake and gas pedal.
I found that simple running shoes, or shoes with a strong yet soft heel worked best because they would absorb all of this movement the best. Again, this meant that I could stay on the road longer without having to rest my feet.
These Tips Aren’t About Driving
None of these tips are on how to find better surge, better promotions or to stay busier while driving for Uber of Lyft. They are about being in the right “place” personally to make sure you can do that in the first place. For me, if I don’t feel my best I don’t drive my best and that involved taking these extra steps to make the whole job a lot easier and more enjoyable.
Drivers, how do you take care of yourself while driving? Any tips to stay healthy and alert while driving those long hours?
Make Every Mile CountDid you know that every 1,000 business miles can generate $535 in tax deductions? Never miss another mile with the new QuickBooks Self-Employed automatic mileage tracker.
-Christian @ RSG
Latest posts by Christian Perea (see all)
- How is Lyft Responding to Uber’s 180 Days of Change? - September 15, 2017
- Where Has All The Surge Gone? - September 4, 2017
- Will These New Features Make Driving for Uber and Lyft Better? - August 18, 2017