The Commute

The Commute

Jason Cochard for Land Academy

Working from home seems to come easy for some people. For me, it used to be a recipe for disaster. I live in a studio apartment with a Murphy bed — it folds down for sleeping, and when it’s folded up, I’ve got three computer monitors bolted to it, and a desk surface that folds and locks into place. Crazy efficient use of space, I know.

But after initially patting myself on the back at my efficient use of space, I realized that I may have cursed myself. Originally, part of the idea was that the fold-down nature of the desk would cause me to keep my desk immaculately clean. But that backfired the first time I started a project that required me to leave a few things on my desk overnight. The choice became, do I lose sleep by staying up super late to finish the project, or do I sleep on the couch? Instead of this efficient use of space, I ended up sleeping on the couch. But then, my desk started to get cluttered, and the couch became a multi-night ordeal. This is the wrong outcome.

The second curse wasn’t a lack of sleep, but a lack of productivity. Because my bed is mutually exclusive with my desk, there’s an incentive to stay in bed just a little bit longer. Check your phone, scroll through the endless content firehose of social media, make your eyes hurt before even doing any actual work for the day. Then after an hour of that, get up and hurry to start the day, albeit a little late.

I realized something had to change, and it wasn’t going to be my apartment situation. I’ve got a tiny place, but an amazing location — I had to change myself. The change I made might benefit other land investors who have recently quit their job and are now dealing with the new reality of working from home, and the extra discipline it requires. My situation was a logical extreme, but I think my remedy is also able to help people in “normal” living situations.

I decided I needed to re-incorporate a version of the commute, to and from work. Getting to work on time is a constraint that doesn’t exist when you work from home, but if you simply decide that it does still matter, and commit to yourself that you’re going to “get to work” at a certain time, you can incorporate the same urgency to starting your day as when you would face an angry boss if you’re late to the office.

In my case, before the morning commute, I decided that I am not allowed to check any email, texts, voicemails, or social media. I would fold up the bed and fold out the desk, but wasn’t allowed to do any work until after the commute. When I get back from the commute, since the bed is already gone and my desk is set up, I wouldn’t see a bedroom at all — I’d see the office.

What is the commute, then? A jog, a bike ride, a walk, for about 45 minutes. It gets me up earlier, gets me out doing something physical for the day, and I have a psychological benefit of not feeling cooped up for too long in the same exact few square feet all day. If you’re anything like me, and you can easily sit for hours working and completely forget to eat because you’re too focused, it can be easy to get into the cycle of wake up / walk to the computer / work until dark / maybe eat / crash hard to sleep. That cycle is incredibly unhealthy even though we usually get a lot done during those sprints. I can usually go a couple days like that, but then I have to go camping or something just to reset.

Now, instead of binging on work, the commute helps me to balance work and life in a more healthy way. This doesn’t have anything to do with real estate, but may have benefits for real estate investors who practice the “never leave your desk” approach. I found that incorporating a commute into my work from home was key for staying sane, staying productive, and staying consistent. Plus, my desk still stays pretty clean!