Over a year in, after the initial joy of ditching the long daily commute, spending all day in sweatpants and being able to work with access to a kitchen full of snacks, the reality of working from home has set in. The distinction between work and homelife has become blurred through excess video calls and messages. We all now literally live at the office.
And so a new routine has begun: the virtual commute.
Instead of rolling out of bed and plopping down at the desk of your temporary office, a virtual commute gives you the chance to transition to work mode each morning before another commute to be able to again focus on home. Begin each day by changing into clean clothes, taking a walk to the corner, and returning to make a cup of coffee, by setting aside 30 minutes in the morning and evening to play with the family dog, by dancing to your favorite tunes, or whatever else you choose to do. It’s all about creating a set routine that acts as bookends to your workday.
Even before COVID-19, we were all guilty of working extra hours at home and checking the inbox every hour. Now, those early signs fill us with stress and a sense of burnout. The end of the stressful commute, getting out the door in time to deal with illogical traffic patterns, is beneficial, giving a more flexible work schedule, so make this new commute work to improve your life further.
Separating work from the rest of life will give you not only a chance to eat—and enjoy your meal—without thinking of work, but it’s also meant to help you mentally reset and hopefully having more energy to do the activities you enjoy at the end of each day.
Tailor your virtual commute to what works for you. Do you need a soothing ritual, like enjoying a hot cup of tea and practicing yoga, or something more intense, like a morning run and an evening stretch? If you don’t have enough screen time, there are plenty of apps that could be used, such as apps for meditation and mental health check-ins, or educational apps that allow you to learn a new language or skill. Maybe the commute is a family affair, with everyone coming together to make a meal or sit on the back porch to reinforce that connection of home.
Once you choose your virtual commute, stick to it. Shutting down your laptop and going for a walk may be a more useful end to the workday than you realize. It’s time to prepare for your virtual commute.