The Home Office: Tackling the 13-Foot Commute

By Sean Thornton on October 29th, 2013 / Comments

It’s 6:42am, mere moments before my alarm should go off, yet here I am staring at the slate gray ceiling looming above the bed. Mentally preparing for the day. Starting off like most any other, except my commute is across the hall.

The 13-foot commute will happen today, but how long will it take? I could be there in 1.3 seconds if I had to, and it can be done but perhaps it will take 13 minutes.  It is such a simple and friendly number but the possibilities are endless, I better sleep on it.  What’s the difference between a few extra minutes?  After all, I don’t have to account for traffic or weather, and I can get to work as soon as I want, as I can go from bed to office almost instantaneously.  Will today be a 7:00am day, or will it be closer to 8:00am?

This commute has ups and downs, but a focused approach can better set the foundation for a productive day.

Set Specific Goals! I start to figure out my day before I even open my eyes, and since each one is different it is essential for me to have a grasp on my own expectations from the start. After the first alarm and before the next I begin my mental pilgrimage to the office. It’s a matter of laying out priorities, obligations and personal balance. On paper it would be extremely productive to work all day, all night and every minute in between, but when it comes down to my preference I require balancing enough personal relief to make my working efforts that much stronger and more focused. Once an itinerary is formed, it might be time to sit up and get out of bed.

Envision Your Work. This commute doesn’t require any stops at the gas station, but instead calls for a different grade of fuel entirely. The time spent envisioning the work to come sets the stage for the day’s yield, and without it I would surely be stuck on empty and going nowhere. To simply roll out of bed and into the office chair can be worse for productivity than not coming in at all. Scattered and misdirected efforts have done more to set me back than progress my business, and it is purely for the sake of efficiency that I take my commute most seriously.

Start on time. 7:45am, let’s do this. If I get to work now I will have a full day and should accomplish all of my goals. The classic 8-5, with a few twists that is. As easy and tempting as it is to turn on the TV and postpone the beginning of the workday, that is no way to kick off a regular day at the office. All it takes is one or two stray thoughts about what else could make up the morning, whether that be sleeping, mowing the lawn, cleaning, or that latest household project, and just like that, I can think my way out of an entire day, which is the most significant peril to overcome when working from home. I work as late into the night as I want and need to, but getting to work on time is crucial.

Set a Morning Routine. In truth, my 13-foot commute typically takes as long as the average working stiff. I wake up and set my goals, take the dogs out, prepare a quick breakfast (usually not for me but for my better half as she walks out the door) before soaking up a little personal and reflective time before opening that office door. I spend maybe twenty minutes, usually on the couch or lying in bed, just visualizing my day. Adding my work goals to my personal expectations and harmonizing the best balance between them. This preparation is my commute.

The 13-foot commute has little to do with actual distance, for some days it might as well be a 13-hour drive.  It is however the most pure and necessary component of my day, and without it I would never make it work.

About the Author

Sean Thornton

Sean is the President of Thornton Ventures LLC and consults across a wide arena of markets. You can follow him on Twitter @Seanpthorn.