If you work from home, you might be familiar with the following scenario. Not leaving the house for days on end. Not remembering the last time you had a face-to-face conversation. Finding yourself snacking more than usual and gaining a few pounds in the process. If you nodded to any of these things, you are not alone! I found the same thing when I started working from home. Fed up of it all (and the rounding of my tummy) I created the Reverse Commute to solve the problem.
Healthy home working with the Reverse Commute
So here’s the theory around the Reverse Commute. When you work in an office (outside of your home) you have to make that commuter journey, no matter what the weather/time of year/how you’re feeling/*fill in the blank*. Your boss is very unlikely to take ‘I didn’t feel like it today, because I don’t really like the cold and wet’ as a valid reason for not coming into work.
So that is the basis of the Reverse Commute. Rather than simply calling it a morning and evening walk, which is nice and all, it doesn’t have a ‘must’ attached to it. Not having the need makes it far easier to skip and to fall foul to the many, many, excuses I am sure we can all muster.
How to create your Reverse Commute
having spoken with many other self-employed friends, I have heard all the excuses! From ‘I don’t have safe roads to walk on’, ‘I have to get the kids to school’, ‘but I’m not good in the mornings’ as just a few to give you a taste! And here’s my response. When you choose a new job, the commute plays part of the decision in applying for the job. If it is too far, you might choose an alternative job. If there are only busy roads, you might choose to drive for a bit until you can park (in a safe car park!) and walk the rest of the way etc. Your Reverse Commute needs to have some similar considerations.
What time do you need to start work? Can you get up that little bit earlier? How about dropping the kids off on your way and walking around a nearby park for a few laps before heading back? Have you checked a map to see whether there are alternative routes you could walk?
Here is how I came up with my Reverse Commute. I like to start work around 8:30am. I wanted to get a decent walk in and decided that it would be nice to rope Jit (my other half) into the equation. So walking into Manchester city centre became a good choice as he works in Salford and gets the tram from Piccadilly Gardens. Next I had to consider the time I would have to leave in order to be at my desk for the time I wanted to be there. Of course, there is some wriggle room, which is why I chose an early time.
My morning Reverse Commute routine
Considering all my options, I decided that the best time to get up would be 6am. This gives me plenty of time to feed the cats, make our breakfast smoothies and prepare our lunch boxes. I also have time to make and drink a brew and have a shower ready to leave at 7:00am.
There are a variety of routes I can walk to Manchester. Two of which are similar in time, one a little longer. So it generally comes down to the road route through housing areas. It is inevitable that most of us will have to include these areas in our reverse commutes as a lot of us live in suburban and urban areas of cities.
And other days I will skip onto the Rochdale Canal, which gives a little bit of urban greenery to the reverse commute and the chance to chat to other people doing the same walk/ride and say ‘morning’ to the resident geese.
After my reverse commute walking phase, I hop onto the bus to do my Dutch homework on the way home. On a quite bus, I might add!
But it’s not pretty and there’s nothing to see
For those of you with the above words swimming through your minds, let me remind you of something. Remember the phrase ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’? It is hugely relevant with a reverse commute. You might not think that the road to work is beautiful. The pathways filled with the scent of freshly blossoming roses. But you know what. It is your area. By simply looking at it through a new and curious lens, you are sure to find something special about it. Walking along the routes every day, twice a day, will help you to see the subtle changes in the environment. Open your eyes to the urban nature present there (listen for the birds, smell whatever smells there are there, immerse yourself in the place you are walking)
One day it can look completely plain and the next it is awash with the oranges and purples of a stunning sunset.
If you like to think of yourself as an extra ordinary being, then realise that areas are too. Like all of us, there is a mass of hidden beauty and interest in us all. If we discount people because of the way they look, we would be in a very strange world – so think about that the next time you diss somewhere because it is ‘urban’, ‘overgrown’, ‘boring’ etc. look for the hidden beauty and enjoy the place for what it is.
The benefits of a Reverse Commute
So it is all well and good telling you about my reverse commute, but what are the real benefits of it?
Simply put, doing the reverse commute has meant that I have a strong routine to my day. I get up at the same time and head for fresh air, movement and enjoyment of the outdoors. I get to meet new people and greet those doing a similar commute. I have lost a few pounds and no longer find myself heading for snacks when I feel bored. I am happier with my home working experience and look forward to the break and separation from my working day. It marks the end of my working day. I use the time when I meet Jit to chat through work stuff. This keeps it outside of out relaxing home time.
We have noticed that living by our town timetable has meant that we are on time more often. We don’t need to rely on the bus service any more and get to where we need to be when we want to be there. Now that is a freeing feeling for me!
In addition to that, I have met lots of people in my local community that I now call friends. I have started to really notice and appreciate the subtle changes in the seasons and enjoy each and every moment of them. Whether it is lashing it down with rain or sweltering heat, I enjoy the experience.
By creating something which is necessary, I have now made it so important in my life that I don’t want to miss out on it. I wake up looking forward to the walk. Feeling my heart pumping and blood warming up. It is a healthy and lovely way to start the day. And end it too.
What about your reverse commute?
Or general commute (you don’t get out of it that lightly!) Make the decision to make your commute or reverse commute more active. Whether it is joining the self-employed crew with setting up a reverse commute before settling at your desk, or working out a way to add some people powered travel to your regular commute, it can be done.
You don’t need too many extra minutes, just a bit of planning and a drive to not get stuck in the rut of driving, sitting, snacking and perhaps whinging! Get up, get going and enjoy some exercise at the top and tail of your day.
Let me know what and when you plan to start yours.
And of course, send me a tweet to share about it! I love knowing that we’re all out and about together, wherever we are!