If you work from home, you’ve probably read every tip you can get your hands on for optimising your workday. And I’m sure you know all the big ones: set a schedule, shower and get dressed, don’t eat at your desk, get some exercise.
Big yawn, OK? I’ve been working from home for at least part of the week for almost 10 years. It takes a lot for remote work productivity tips to impress me.
But I recently happened upon a tip that has breathed new life into into this productivity tip genre. It’s from Shani Silver, who writes in a post for Forge to make the most of your commute time.
She’s not talking about the dozen steps you take to get from your bed to your desk. She’s talking about the time you’d be spending in the car or on public transit if you had to travel to your job site. That’s one of the biggest perks of working from home, right? You don’t have to deal with traffic, the crowds, or the costs of getting to work.
Silver writes that the hour before we start our workday and the hour after we finish up are a gift. “Use this time wisely,” she writes. “Sleep is great, but you could also spend those hours on the extras that would make your life richer if only you could fit them in — because you can.”
Silver includes starting a side hustle among the ways you could use that “found” time, but I don’t think how you use that time is as important as the simple fact that you use it.
If you tend to hit snooze until 8:59 a.m., like someone I know who definitely isn’t me, starting your day at 8 a.m. instead offers time for breakfast, a shower, some stretching or a short walk before you sit down to your work. After all, if you had to get up to commute to work, you’d be up anyway, right? Except in this situation, you don’t have to rush to get out the door on time.
The same goes for the end of the day. Depending on your circumstances, you might only be able to sneak in 15 minutes to read a chapter of your latest library book. Or maybe you can find a whole hour to go for a run, catch up on chores, or start prepping dinner.
It’s so easy to get caught up in your email inbox or “just one more thing” that time slips away from you right up until the point that your next commitment demands your attention. But isn’t the reason we’re working from home to be more efficient? To do the same amount of work without the hassle of getting back and forth to the office?
If you can make some sort of plan—or at least a couple of realistic options—for how you’ll use the time immediately before and after your work-from-home day, you can better respect the boundaries between your work life and your home life.
And you may find that you recover from some of those inefficiencies that have crept into your workday, like your tendency to sit at your desk in your pyjamas until lunchtime. Again, it’s definitely not me who does this, it’s really just a friend.