It’s been a year since many of us grabbed our essential files, locked up our offices, and began working from home. The first few weeks felt like playing hooky. No more endless rush-hour commutes, no more suits and heels, no more tolls and train fare. And, anyway, lockdown was only going to last a month or two…max.
Now, with a ray of light visible at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, we are faced with picking up where we left off and, for many of us, that means commuting to the office once again. The world has changed tremendously since those couple of months we thought the pandemic would last turned into more than a year, and so have we. Our brains got smooth. Our feet grew accustomed to comfortable shoes. We embraced loungewear and gave up mani-pedis and professional hair cuts and, if you’re like me, you saved a ton of money on commuting costs.
A friend, who has heard me complain about my stressful commute into New York City for longer than she or I want to mention, suggested the other day that I might not want to go back into the city at all. After all, she pointed out, our business has not only survived, but thrived during this time with all of our employees working from home. So, why brave the homicidal drivers, the daily bottleneck at the George Washington Bridge, and the stress of knowing you might miss that early meeting because you’re stuck in traffic?
Initially, I agreed with her. I have complained bitterly for years about my hellish commute. But when I thought about it longer, I realized that (don’t quote me on this) I actually might miss my daily drives. For one, the commute provided a space between my work and home life that currently does not exist.
These days, I roll out of bed and am at my computer at 7AM. Sometimes, 6PM rolls around and I realize I’ve done nothing but work all day. Those early dreams of taking exercise breaks, or making healthy lunches and snacks, or even getting in a 20-minute nap here and there were dashed early on. The pressure of running a business remotely and being more available to staff and clients than ever, means that days are longer and relaxation is at a premium—and that’s without factoring in all the other pandemic worries (I’m looking at you, homeschooling!).
There have been many times during this past year, that I’ve thought longingly about the peace in my car. My early morning commutes were stressful, sure, but they were also a buffer zone between home and work, a quiet time to myself that I could fill creatively or meditatively. That space could be used for catching up with friends I didn’t have time to call once I got home to domestic and parenting duties. It was also a good opportunity to sit in on boring meetings that would have taken up a chunk of my productivity during office hours.
So, maybe if, like me, you’ve got a long car or public transportation commute to look forward to once your office is open once again, consider the following tips for making it as enjoyable as possible:
- Listen to news podcasts like NPR News Now and catch up with the state of the world;
- Start that new bestselling audiobook you’d fall asleep to if you picked it up at bedtime;
- Find out what the kids are listening to with one of the Best New Music playlists on Spotify;
- Find a good meditation for commuters on Headspace or another meditation app;
- Or just spend time unknotting some thorny problems with no danger of interruptions derailing your train of thought.
I, for one, am going to look at commuting in a different light. How about you?