By: Iris Matulevich, Creative Team
Alright. You have your favorite mug and your business-on-the-top, party-on-the-bottom video conferencing outfit. You don’t have to share a bathroom and your best pen is no longer at risk of being stolen. You’ve adapted to the work-from-home lifestyle. Or so you think.
When we all vacated our offices and headed home to work from our couches, kitchens, and dens, we were worried about communication. We were worried about losing quality time with each other and we were worried about what it meant to no longer have in-person meetings. Over time, we assuaged these worries and found a new normal. But we forgot one important part of office life that doesn’t transfer to at-home work:
Yuck, you think. Good riddance. I no longer have to deal with traffic or finding a parking space or guessing which route is going to get me to the office quicker. Why would I ever miss my commute?
I felt this way, too. I enjoyed starting my work day in my pajamas and eating Cheez-its without anyone around to make fun of me. But after a week or two I realized just how important my commute really was.
I live about 20 minutes from the WHEELIE office, and my morning trip usually takes a few minutes longer than my evening trip (for some reason). I spent this drive listening to podcasts, sometimes eating my breakfast that I didn’t have time to finish at home, and cursing red lights. But I was also spending time doing something really important without even knowing it… I was flowing.
We forget how meditative driving (or biking or walking or riding transit) can be when we only associate it with traffic. Yet it’s the time when most of us tend to find that flow state - when you realize you don’t remember the last half hour but all of a sudden you’re in your driveway. It’s a physical task, but an easy task, and it’s one you can do without thinking.
Here, on the commute, we prepare ourselves for the work day. We might go over our to-do list in our heads, maybe start to forget about that weird dream you had the night before where you were back in high school. We sit with our thoughts, accompanied by the radio or a podcast or silence, and we transition from the home self to the work self. Then we do the same on the way home: we decompress, we prepare for the rest of the day, we think about what’s for dinner or how good it will feel to slide on our favorite sweatpants when we walk in the door. This dreaded commute becomes a sacred time to softly transition and leave the frustrations or struggles behind.
At home, I wasn’t taking the time for a peaceful transition. I was hopping on my computer soon after awakening and jumping into my inbox before I even had coffee (!). After wrapping up my day, I was hopping right onto the couch (inches away from my “desk”) and chatting with my partner when he came home… never decompressing, never processing what had gone on that day. It left me feeling jumbled, always on. Work me was coming home and home me was at work and both me’s just wanted to take two naps a day because my couch was so close by.
Once I realized it was my commute time I was missing, I started implementing an at-home commute. After I wake up, I do a yoga class or a meditation or a crossword puzzle. Sometimes I write in my journal or color a picture on my color-by-number app (don’t judge, it’s fun). Only once I’ve taken time to set myself up for the day - to catch up on a quick podcast episode or say good morning to my plants - do I wake up my computer. At the end of the day, I walk to the mailbox or work on a cross stitch or play some ukulele before I move on to watching Criminal Minds until I fall asleep.
Now I’m not perfect - sometimes I lay in bed and scroll through TikTok until I realize my morning meeting starts in ten minutes and I have to put on something other than my One Direction Take Me Home Tour t-shirt circa 2013. But when I do skip my commute practice, I find it much harder to take on the day with focus and energy. It feels like I’m trying to run a marathon on Pop Tarts alone versus eating a hearty spaghetti dinner the night before. Not recommended (although delicious).
If you’re feeling lackluster in your work-from-home life and wondering what’s missing, you might want to try adding some commute time to your day. Perhaps you go on a morning run or scooter excursion around your neighborhood (if it’s the latter, please send pics) or you might just prefer doing some morning pages and an afternoon meditation. Whatever you implement, remember that we’re all doing our best these days, and as Lisa Slagle says, “your best is enough.”
copyright 2021 Wheelie, LLC.
I can't recommend Wheelie enough. Our website launch was almost too successful, and we could barely keep up with the amount of orders we received as soon as we announced the rebrand. They are ah.MAZING!"