It has been years since I worked in an office. My “commute” consists of going downstairs, starting the coffee, then sitting at my desk. Given how many time logs I see where people spend vast hours of their days simply getting to and from work, I know this is a wonderful thing.
That said, I do go into Philadelphia or NYC for meetings or events probably once a week. Today I left the house around 8:30 a.m. to drive to 30th St Station, then took the train into NYC for a speech. I got right back on the train to make a meeting in Philly in the afternoon. Then I fetched my car from the garage and drove home, arriving at 6:15 p.m. or so. Driving down my street and into the driveway, I felt like I was “done.” I had done a lot for the day, the day had been productive, it was time to relax.
Oddly enough, I almost never feel this way when I work in my home office. That is true even though objectively I accomplish much more when I am sitting at my desk. I have a sneaky suspicion that traveling somewhere makes us feel like we have done something, whether we have or not. I got a lot done today, but not nearly in proportion with my feeling of accomplishment.
There are two lessons to take from this. One is to guard against the illusion of productivity. Checking email and deleting unimportant messages feels productive, but it really is not. Likewise, going somewhere is not, in and of itself, accomplishing anything. What matters is what you do while you are there.
The second is that if you do work from home, it is OK to feel done. Maybe a short commute (a quick errand at 5 p.m.?) can help with this. I still need to figure out a transition ritual, but one of these days I will.