Transitioning to remote work requires a lot of adjustments, but the easiest among them might have been the lack of a commute. Waking up later and sliding back into your personal life earlier in the evening felt like a luxury. No more morning traffic, crowded subway cars, or buses. No more explaining why you’re arriving late for the second (or third) time this month. But now that it’s gone, some people miss their morning routine.
Sometimes fun and often frustrating, the daily commute was a buffer between home and work. It offered the chance to queue up for good coffee and say hi to your favorite baristas. It was time to zone out, blast some music, listen to an audiobook, or catch up on your favorite podcast.
But now that many people are remote workers, we’re jumping straight into our professional lives rather than easing into them. Expectations to be constantly available are leading to fatigue (raise your hand if you bring your phone with you everywhere just in case you get Slacked). So, how can we recreate the positive aspects of our commute and improve productivity throughout the day?
Here are 10 tips remote workers can use to shift their energy, boost their mood, and transition between work and home:
Set an alarm and wake up at the same time every day. It doesn’t have to be as early as when you had to commute but take an hour to do something that isn’t work-related. You can also set alarms throughout the day to remind yourself to take breaks and to shut the laptop when the workday is finished.
Exposure to sun can boost your mood and provides loads of other health benefits. Lack of exposure to sunlight can make you feel groggy and could impact productivity and creativity. So, roll up your sleeves and head outside for your daily dose.
Simulate the walk to the subway, to and from your car, or to your office building by taking a stroll around the neighborhood. This would be a good time to catch up on that podcast you’ve been neglecting and get your body and brain energized for the workday. You can also add a brisk walk to your self-care routine.
Give your family coffee machine the day off, break out that coffee app, and order up a latte for curbside pickup. If the weather’s nice, consider walking or biking to your local beanery and enjoy some fresh air.
If you’ve ever wandered into just about any tech company, one thing you’ll notice is all the free snacks. The next thing you’ll notice is all the gaming consoles, analog gaming tables like shuffleboard, and board games. Play of any kind stimulates creativity and develops problem-solving skills, so start your day with a game, work it into a 15-minute break, or make it part of your evening winding down routine.
As a remote worker, have you “pajama-bottomed out?” Instead of spending your workday in your PJs, pull some of those work clothes out of the back of your closet and dress as if you were going into the office. You’ll impress everyone in your Zoom meetings, and you’ll feel like a titan of industry for the day.
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Whether you have an actual home office or modified a corner in the living room, treat it the same way you would your brick-and-mortar digs. Keep it organized and don’t let clutter pile up. Take your meals in another part of the house and try not to enter your workspace outside of office hours.
Just going out to your car for 10 minutes before and after work will help break up your routine. Even better, go for a drive and crank your favorite song up to 11. Head out to the country or drive to a park to avoid traffic. That’s not the kind of commute we want to recreate here.
Most grocery stores open early and it’s a perfect time to avoid long lines and aisle congestion. You can probably find a parking space close to the door and you’ll have access to the freshest fruit and warm bread. Don’t use this option to recreate your commute in the evening. Stores are still crowded from 5-7 p.m.
Remember signing up for a 1-hour yoga session at lunch, then realizing it takes 10-minutes to get there, 10 to get back, and you still haven’t eaten? Activate your lunch break with some cardio or wind down in the evening with some strength training. Make it a family affair with a workout that everyone will enjoy.
Whatever method you choose to recreate your commute, just make sure you’re allowing some buffer time between home and remote work. If you take a little time to yourself, your productivity will improve, and your family will thank you.