One of the biggest perks to working from home during this pandemic is skipping the commute. No mad rush to eat breakfast and prepare a packed lunch, no traffic or public transport delays to make you late and stressed before your day has even begun, and best of all no need to make yourself look presentable unless there’s a Zoom meeting scheduled!
However long it takes you to travel to and from the office, whether it’s an hour or fifteen minutes (you lucky sods), you now have that time to yourself. So, why not make the most of it?
As tempting as it is to lie in bed until five minutes before you need to start work, we all know that rarely leads to a productive work day. These 15 ideas will hopefully inspire you to maximise that extra time you have gained in the mornings and after work on weekdays.
Go for a morning walk
A morning walk offers a calmer start to the day than a hardcore HIIT workout, while still providing you with an energy boost for the day ahead. My favourite walks are the ones where I am phone-free and can just focus on my thoughts. If you’re someone who finds walking tedious, you could also use the time to listen to music or an audiobook. Find what works best for you.
Enjoy a proper breakfast
Few of us in 9 to 5 jobs have time to make a smoothie before we leave for work in the morning, but now that your living room is your office you can treat yourself to something more than two slices of hastily buttered toast. Experiment with different porridge toppings (hello banana and peanut butter!) or go all out with some freshly made pancakes or even a full fry up.
There’s a common misconception that the sole purpose of meditation is to achieve a mind totally devoid of all thoughts. In reality, meditation can provide you with a means of understanding yourself better and exploring your thoughts and feelings in more depth. You don’t have to meditate for half an hour every day to feel the benefits either, a few ten minute sessions each week could also help you to feel more relaxed. Guided meditation apps like Headspace and Calm are a great place for newbies to start.
Reading might not be your favourite hobby, but I firmly believe that every person can benefit from a little daily reading. It broadens your knowledge, increases your ability to concentrate and gives your brain a good workout. The likes of Tolstoy and Orwell aren’t everyone’s cup of tea – if the prospect of a long novel makes you yawn, try a collection of short stories or a non-fiction book that you can dip in and out of rather than read cover to cover. Alternatively, dedicate fifteen minutes a day to an online news website or perhaps your favourite blog (nudge nudge, wink wink).
Professional development opportunities will differ according to your field of work, but there are plenty of online resources to help you build your skillset and progress on any career path. You don’t have to commit your time and money to a paid qualification when there’s thousands of free webinars, podcasts and specialist articles just a Google search away. If you are looking to financially invest in your career on a limited budget, purchasing a monthly subscription to a leading news website in your industry will help you to stay in the know when it comes to current conversation and trends.
So you’re in the mood for something more challenging than a walk? Good for you! Whether you prefer yoga or a full body blast workout, any exercise session is guaranteed to leave you in a better mood than before you started. My blog on staying active at home contains a variety of useful workout tips and resources for you to try. If you struggle with motivation, set up a weekly video call with a friend or relative for some much needed moral support and do a workout together.
Take a bath
Few pastimes say “look at all this free time I have!” quite like taking a long bath. There’s just something inherently luxurious about soaking in a bathtub surrounded by bubbles and sweet aromas. Amp up the indulgence with some candles, relaxing music and your beverage of choice (a steaming mug of hot chocolate for me but a glass of red might be a better choice after a long work day!) Don’t forget to firmly lock the bathroom door if you have little ones with no concept of alone time.
How do you like to pamper yourself? Self-care may be subjective, but we can all benefit from a dedicated pampering session. Apply a hair mask, face mask (the pre-COVID variety!) or both. Paint your nails, take the time to style your hair and do your make-up to make yourself feel good. Slather your body from head to toe in moisturiser. Put together an outfit that is a little fancier than what you would normally wear for a work day at home. Whatever makes you feel pampered and content in yourself, do it!
Catch up with a friend or relative
We’re currently leading lives that are a lot more isolated than we are used to. Keeping in touch with loved ones is essential to combat potential feelings of loneliness, even for those of us who are fortunate enough to live with other people. Arranging a daily phone call with your best friend could be the perfect way to ensure a positive start to the day or to fix a low mood after a stressful day at work. If phone calls aren’t your thing, a text conversation can still help you to feel closer to friends and family during this difficult time.
Spend quality time together
The precious time you have regained from your commute doesn’t have to be reserved for ‘me time’. Maybe you struggle to have one-on-one time with your partner or your children because of a busy daily schedule. Invite them to join you on your morning walk or for a workout. Plan a stay at home date night with you and your partner. Play a family board game or simply agree to spend half an hour without phones in hand, just talking and sharing highlights from your day.
Get your housework out of the way
Housework eh, what a downer! Most of you are probably competent adults who manage to stay on top of the housework, so bear in mind that this suggestion is more for the procrastinators like myself who prefer to delay doing chores for as long as possible. As much as I hate the thought of sorting laundry or cleaning the hob, I always feel so much better when the task is done. It’s just an automatic de-stresser. I find that forcing myself to do a few chores in the morning puts me in a productive head space before I start work.
Cook something new for dinner
When I have enough time in the evenings, I love to try out new recipes. I have bought three recipe books already this year and I have really enjoyed spending more time preparing tasty food in the kitchen. Takeaways can feel so much harder to resist in lockdown when, in the absence of any social life, the only joy to be found is in food and Netflix. Cooking something for dinner does admittedly require more effort than merrily tapping your way to the Deliveroo checkout, but it’s also considerably healthier and can still feel like a treat if it’s a recipe you’ve never tried before.
Listen to a podcast
If you aren’t already an avid podcast listener, you are missing out! Spotify Premium and Apple Podcasts have thousands of shows for you to listen to on every topic you can think of, from parenting and life advice to true crime stories and celebrity gossip. As well as being entertaining, podcasts can be highly informative and therefore a great way to improve your knowledge in a set subject area. If you’re a history nerd, be sure to check out my all-time favourite podcast, “Stuff You Missed in History Class”.
Perhaps unsurprising considering I am blogger, but I have always found writing to be an excellent emotional outlet. Noting down your thoughts can be extremely liberating, especially if you are a notorious over-thinker or have an anxious personality type. If writing out the mundane details of your lockdown life doesn’t seem very appealing, the good news is that there are more creative alternatives to the traditional diary format for you to try.
Start a new hobby
Always wanted to learn how to knit? Or perhaps how to start growing vegetables in your garden? Or maybe you’ve always loved to paint, but never had the time to do it on a regular basis. Well, now is your chance! Use your commute time to develop a new or existing skill. There’s lots of YouTube tutorials to guide you or you could buy a beginners’ guide book online. If you want to make it more fun, persuade a friend or relative to take up the new hobby with you.
There you have it, folks! 15 suggestions to help you make the most of your commute time. Will you be trying any of my ideas? How have you been spending your commute time so far? Let me know in the comments, I would love to hear from you!