Suddenly Home EIGHT: Beginning of the Day Rituals

In my decades listening to friends talk about their jobs, I’ve noticed people like to get to work as quickly as possible.

Morning commutes aren’t joy rides, I get that. But what people who work outside the home might not realize – that is, until they join the home office tribe – is that going to work gives them time to get used to the idea of … going to work.

People who travel to work have a buffer zone before getting into performance mode: they get to wake up, eat breakfast, drink coffee, shower, get dressed, commune with their kids (or pets) and then walk, bike, drive or bus to their destination. It’s a great excuse to listen to the radio, or read or listen to podcasts.

For us home workers, little of this applies. When you skip the transport and personal preparation part, which is not essential most days, we have a pretty skimpy morning routine and no built in time for a bit of day dreaming.

I never thought that was fair. Call it a self-designed buffer zone, or creatively putting off the inevitable, as a self-employed person, I have always thought I deserved to ease into the day just like everyone else.

Since I have still have children at home, the first chunk of my morning is boilerplate: I wake the kids up, make sure they eat, give them an excuse to roll their eyes at someone who asks stupid questions.

But when my girls are on the sidewalk heading to school, I do not head straight to the office. I am usually in the living room reading my assortment of newspapers.

Everywhere I’ve lived and worked, I have created some kind of morning ritual that combines coffee, newsprint and sweat. Many mornings I do a Pilates workout while listening to the news. In different times and places, I have gone on a regular morning walk, or even a ski in nearby Parc Maisonneuve.

This means getting up earlier than required by the 40-hour week, but it’s worth it. Being able to switch out a commute for morning exercise is probably the greatest advantage of working at home.

Whatever you feel like doing, I’d recommend some kind of pre-work ritual to anyone who works at home. You might not be doing this forever, but it’s probably not going to be over soon. Being in automatic pilot for the first hour or so of the day helps you feel normal and ignore the eternal question of whether you really want to work at all. (In my case, it also lets the creative juices start flowing.)

Don’t get me wrong. I love my work and I usually wake up with ideas and projects. But that doesn’t mean I always feel like executing them. I wouldn’t go as far to claim a morning routine make you a better worker. It just helps you get to work without wondering if you really want to be there.