My fake morning commute

by | Feb 14, 2024 | Productivity Experiments

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.

Written by Chris Bailey

Chris Bailey has written hundreds of articles on the subject of productivity and is the author of three books: How to Calm Your Mind, Hyperfocus, and The Productivity Project. His books have been published in more than 40 languages. Chris writes about productivity on this site and speaks to organizations around the globe on how they can become more productive without hating the process.

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