My fake morning commute


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Takeaway: If you want to better transition into work mode while working from home, try a “fake commute.”

Estimated Reading Time: 1 minutes, 45s.

I’ve worked from home for the last decade or so. Despite all the benefits of WFH life, I do occasionally miss elements of my long-ago morning commute: the audiobook time as I rode into the office and the quiet moments of transition that bookended my workday.

Luckily, I’ve found a ritual to serve these same functions. As an experiment, I’ve started a “fake active commute” each morning. To my surprise, the ritual has stuck, and gives me everything I used to love about this morning routine—without any of the annoying bits of actually commuting.

Here’s what it looks like. After getting ready in the morning, I dress for the outdoors as though I’m walking to the office; bundling up in a thick coat to steel my way through the Canadian winter in Ottawa. Stepping out of the house, I walk in whatever direction I feel like. I set a 15-minute timer so I know when to turn around and head home—that way, my “commute” is 30 minutes. That’s all there is to it.

I’ve found this ritual offers much more than a healthy bout of morning exercise. It also gives me:

  • The chance to mentally transition into “work mode,”
  • Time to reflect on what I want to accomplish and get out of the day,
  • An opportunity to practice scatterfocus and generate ideas,
  • Fresh air before sitting indoors all day,
  • A chance to see and say hello to people (who aren’t on the other side of a webcam),
  • An opportunity to listen to an audiobook, so I can start the day surrounded by ideas, not email.

In other words, this fake morning commute offers me everything my regular commute used to.

Odd as it may sound, I find I return home with fresh eyes. Walking into my house after the commute, I feel like I’m stepping into a new place—even though it’s the same building I left 30 minutes prior. I’ve gone through the motions and feel as though I’ve arrived. This has become a helpful mental cue that it’s time to get some serious $#!† done.

The fake morning commute is a simple ritual, but you might be surprised by how well it works when you’re working from home.

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