The Ritual of Commuting

If you were to ask a group of people in any large city, “What’s the biggest appeal of working from home?” I’d bet most of them would tell you: avoiding my commute.  And, after commuting an hour or more for fifteen years, I couldn’t wait to work from home and win back all that “lost time” I’d spent commuting. 

Working from home is GREAT because it allows you to break free of the standard nine-to-five grind.  But, when the office is in the next room, it can be hard to walk away.  Similarly, when your home is in your office and there are dirty dishes in the sink or laundry to be done, it can be hard to focus solely on work.

So, my commute served an important purpose for me as the container in which I held my work day. 

On my way to work, I would listen to podcasts and mentally prepare for the day ahead.  I would visualize the work that needed to be done and set my priorities for how to accomplish it all. 

On my way home from work, I would listen to music or catch up with friends and family, mentally downshifting from high-stress work mode into light hearted mom mode. 

You could always tell when I didn’t quite downshift because my tone was a little sharper than I realized and light-hearted jokes landed like sharp-elbowed jabs. 

Now that I’m working from home, I’m struggling to maintain the same (or any) boundaries.   

For those of us that work from home, how can we create rituals to begin and end our days without a commute? 

I’m currently focused on integrating the two commuting factors that started my day on a positive note into my morning ritual – listening to a podcast and setting my intentions.  First thing, before I sit down at my computer, I sit with my journal and set my intentions for the day.  This is a list of no more than 5 tasks that will make the day a success.  Having this anchor for the day ahead ensures I am on a successful path from the get-go.  Second, listen to a podcast (almost) every morning.  Some mornings, I listen while I fold laundry.  Other mornings, I listen while walking.  These aspirational messages start my day on a positive note. 

For the summer, I strive to be at my desk no later than 9:30am, even though I have all the time freedom of working from home.

In the evenings, I’m trying to hard stop around 5pm when my kids arrive home from camp.  It’s hard y’all.  There is always one more email to send or one more thing to do.  Often, I find myself still sitting at my computer when my husband gets home 30-60 minutes later. 

I would like to get to a place where I hard stop about 30 minutes BEFORE they are due home and decompress from my day.  I think I’d be a better mom and spouse for listening to music or catching up with friends and mentally transitioning from the concerns of my clients before my family arrives home.  I’m setting a timer TODAY folks.  Feel free to hold me accountable 😊

I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas of how to build a container for your work when working from home. 

As you can see, mine is still a work in progress.    

Remember, anything or anyone who doesn’t LIGHT YOU UP is too small for you. 

Big hugs, Sarah-Nell Walsh

Career Coach + Strategist