‘Working from home’. The regular commuter’s holy grail. We used to dream about this when we commuted home on a jam packed train facing yet another signal failure. We used to think about how wonderful it would be to work from home; to cut out the horrible commute and replace that time with some exercise or a hobby. What bliss.
Fast forward to 2020 and we are ‘working from home’ every day. Except, somehow, the commute has been replaced by more work, school pick-ups/drop-offs and endless household chores. Not exercise, not me-time. How did our commuter fantasy turn out so differently to what we had imagined?
It seems that our experience this year is by no means unique. Our colleagues and friends have repeatedly said the same thing – there’s no time to do anything except work.
Digging deeper into our daily routine, we have found that our working hours have crept into the commuting time that existed pre-Covid over the past 6 months. We started off with great intentions at the start of lockdown – we made great effort to fit some exercise and other non-work activities into our days. However, over time, our work took over. When we aren’t actively working, there’s always a pile of dirty clothes staring at us, which means that we end up doing sporadic housework instead of something more enjoyable, like, say, exercising.
Having recently realised this sad state of affairs, we’ve tried to re-arrange our priority list. Instead of squeezing more work into the day, we now block out regular slots during the day for exercise and household chores. We’ve come to realise that just because we’re working from home does not mean that we need to work all hours from home. In the same way that our homebound commute used to be the hour of the day when we switched off from work to home life, we now replace that hour with exercise. It so happens that I prefer to jog in the mornings. So, there’s a regular “meeting” blocking my virtual office diary straight after dropping the kids off at school. It’s made no difference to my work efficiency. In fact, exercising outdoors before starting work has improved my motivation and mood. My colleagues and the wider Stingyfit household have all benefited from this small adjustment to the ‘new normal’.
We’ve realised that no one is going to give you the time or permission to exercise and do things that are good for you, as an individual. You’ve got to make time for yourself and not apologise for it. We’re taking the view that your body will thank you for taking this approach in years to come when the Covid era is more or less confined to the history books.