The Benefits of a Daily Commute, Even If You Work From Home

 

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It’d be easy to say that skipping the daily commute is one of the biggest benefits to working from home. While there might be some (usually social) advantages going into the office every day, it’s hard to see the merits of a packed subway car or a clogged highway.

Even if you don’t consciously enjoy your commute, the idea of a daily commute can actually be healthy if you’re working from home.

The biggest reason is that it forces you to go outside. Yes, that can be annoying—we’d all like to work in our pajamas now and then. But it’s true that, just like when you’re getting dressed for a formal dinner or a day at the beach, your grooming and attire can affect your mood. Imagine wearing beach clothes to a steakhouse; social appropriateness aside, you’d end up being in a totally different mood than if you dressed up.

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The same could be said for getting dressed for work. Even if you work at a startup where everyone dresses down, a basic amount of grooming is still required to step outside. It might not be much, but on a lazy morning, it could very well be the push you need to switch mental gears over to work mode.

Similarly, there’s something to be said about the merits of going for a walk. Just because you’re simulating a morning commute doesn’t mean you have to work away from home. A morning walk around the block might be all you need to distinguish weekdays from weekends and to remind yourself to stay focused.

On a physical level, too, cool morning breeze and the light exercise of walking are great for waking yourself up. Mentally, you can put yourself in a better mood by visiting a cafe that you like, or simply strolling through the park. It won’t take much time, and the resulting mental energy when you return home should be closer to what you’d feel in the office during the week, compared to how you feel on Sunday morning.

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Finally, setting up a mini “commute” is effective because it assured that you’re dressed if you ever do need to go out for the day. No more getting caught off guard by urgent meetings with clients, or even by a quick lunch request from a friend. If you’re lazing around at home all day, it’s easy to miss out on social opportunities that you’d take without a second thought if you were in the office. Don’t let this happen. If you’re prepared, you can keep up your professional social life while still enjoying the conveniences of the home office.

Overall, it’s important to never underestimate the mental power of little daily rituals. Like a morning cup of coffee, the physical pick-me-up and the placebo association with a hard day’s work combine to make a tangible difference to your mood and productivity. Find the rituals that work for you and you’ll find yourself doing more with the same number of hours.