Find time to get a workout in? Check. Walk the dog. Check. Make a healthy meal for dinner? Working on it!
With the hours recaptured from eliminating commute time, many individuals fit in more personal activities outside of work. Now that hybrid work is emerging as the new trend, that balance could be disrupted. You may no longer be able to make that exercise class near your home, you can’t switch over loads of laundry at lunch, and meeting your kids at the school bus every day could be impossible.
So how do you maintain some of what you gained even as you venture back in multiple days a week? Here are a few of the strategies I’ve seen work best for my time management coaching clients that may also benefit you.
Find time to exercise on office days
To avoid falling into the pattern of only commuting, working, eating and sleeping on days when you’re in the office, intentionally incorporate exercise. For example, I’ve seen people take advantage of a gym at their office building to do mid-day workouts, include long walks as part of their commute, or even go so far as to run with colleagues as a physical and social break.
By incorporating exercise into your commute-day routine, you can ensure that you’re prioritizing some personal goals even as you’re spending more time getting to and from work.
Socialize while you’re out
When you’re hunkered down at home, it can feel like a lot of effort to get dressed up to go out and engage with the outside world. There is a feeling of inertia perhaps holding you back.
But the beauty of building in social time with commute days is that about 90% of the effort is already completed. You’re already dressed for success. You’re already out of the house. And you’re likely already in a more commercial area close to coffee shops and restaurants.
To capitalize on this momentum, plan to grab coffee or lunch with a networking contact. Or set up a dinner with a friend right after work.
I’ve seen these strategies help my clients fit in some much-needed social connection, and as a bonus, it can save you from having to cook dinner.
Maximize your commute time
I’ve seen people leverage their commute in multiple ways. For those who can take public transportation and don’t get motion sickness working in vehicles, transit time offers the opportunity to get extra tasks done. By working more on their in-office days, they can then work a little less on remote work days when they might have a personal errand or chore that they want to accomplish.
Alternatively, commute time can be dedicated space for personal items that you might not make time for if you stayed home. If you can do so safely, try calling friends or family on your drive or getting in some reading through audio books or through apps that will read PDF documents or even web pages on your smartphone.
Get serious about weekly planning
Some of the rituals you developed over the past few years may no longer happen every day. But with planning, you can still enjoy them most days when you’re working from home. For example, maybe you got used to taking your dog on a long walk every morning. That might not be feasible when you need to catch a 7:10 am train. But you could ensure that your meetings don’t start until 8:30 or 9 am other days so that you can savor a long walk then.
Or maybe you started taking your kids to school every morning. That’s no longer an option but you could make sure at least a couple of times a week you work it out to be the one dropping them off.
The key to making these times work is planning them in advance and guarding your calendar so that no one can schedule a meeting with you during those precious times.
Stay focused in the office
While some people found working from home a productivity boon, many have found it a huge productivity drain where they’re distracted for hours and end up working late in a scramble to get everything done.
If you fall into this category, use the hybrid schedule to your advantage to start work on time, stay off your phone, be away from household distractions, and eliminate naps as an option when you’re in the office.
If you get more done during the work day in the office, you can have guilt-free time at night to do whatever you want to do for yourself.
Adding back in commute time, even a few days a week, is a big shift. But with intentionality, you can still maintain a balance by utilizing your time well and folding personal goals into your time away from home.