Ah, the commute. The distances traveled, the number of traffic jams, the liters of coffee in thermoses, the early morning mists, the evening sunsets, and the alarm clocks ringing a tad too early. The wasted days of the year in the car. You’ve got your morning radio talkshows, your podcasts, your music, your audiobook, and your smoothie to occupy your time, sure, but if you didn’t have to spend that much time in the car, you wouldn’t. I sure as hell wouldn’t.
There’s a real appeal to working from home when you think about the standard commute. You can wake up later. Apparently starting work as early as possible isn’t the most efficient and a good night’s sleep is better than grinding every morning. Deep down, I think we all know that.
You also don’t have to deal with the stress of being late because of traffic. I used to fret and fret about whether or not I should leave early for work because it was raining or snowing and it would be chaos out there. Not to mention the stress of actually driving! There’s a simplicity to just looking out the window at the snow falling and thinking how lucky you are that you don’t have to be out there in that mess.
But lately, as I am working at home more often, I have found that there are some real trade-offs to the sleep-in, roll-outta-bed-and-work mentality. For one, I tend to wake up as late as possible, roll out of bed, brush my teeth, then start working. I wake up and just start working. My day, after a while, felt like I was only working. I wasn’t really working for myself. My mental health was suffering from it.
So I decided to commute for myself.
I set my alarm for a time much earlier, as if I had to spend an hour driving in a car to work. I’d put on some work clothes, make some tea, then I’d set myself up for traveling where I wanted to be, mentally.
I read the books I felt like I didn’t have time for (may I recommend Apeirogon by Colum McCann, A Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Márquez, and The Gimmicks by Chris McCormick). I started writing more in the morning. I went for walks. I kayaked on the Huron River. By the time I started work, I felt like I was long into my day before 10 AM. By the end of the day, I felt like I had accomplished way more, personally and professionally.
A hyperbole of the morning commute
So in this new age where working from home is more and more common, try commuting for yourself. Try separating your day from work and life - enjoy the things you want to enjoy. Your day doesn’t need to start with work and it doesn’t need to end with it. Fostering what makes you happy is more important.