5 Tips to Create a Fake Commute Routine for 2021

Here’s a question for you during the initial days of the year 2021, apart from the new year’s resolution, various goal-setting plans or intentions for the year ahead, did you give yourself an intentional rest in 2020? Did you find yourself battling the work from home life? Do you feel burned out? – We got you covered.

As January of 2021 rolls out, it is common to be tempted to make sweeping changes. But changing an entire routine can feel overwhelming and can lead to burnout. Here are small changes to help you manage work from home life, and to improve your health, well-being, and happiness. These small changes can add up and sustain long-term success. Recharge your holidays and let’s renew ourselves with a “fake commute routine” for the year 2021! 

What is a fake commute?

We are all stuck in a cycle of walking around our own homes. Do you miss the ‘prep and process’ time? Creating space between home and work can help set boundaries. By creating a fake commute you can create a routine. Having a routine, even a self-imposed one can help you feel ‘in control’ of your time and productivity. It is almost like replicating your journey to and from work in a way to set yourself up for the work from home routine. 

Psychologists suggest that “remixing the old commute with new rituals” creates a sense of normalcy to take back what’s removed due to covid-19.

Though some of us would raise our hands for not having to commute during these uncertain times, with a little extra time in bed, avoiding the rush, commute time, etc, after a few weeks you might have realized that it’s a lazy morning with endless zoom meetings. Let’s start adding a “fake commute” to improve your mental health and it’s time you give yourself what a commute once did!

Why do we need a fake commute?

  • Similar to how children have transitions between school hours, as adults transitions can reap a lot of benefits. It creates a clear boundary or segmentation in our brains. Additionally, it provides designated roles or duties as parents at home, employees at work, etc. Due to the lack of transition time, it can start affecting the work-life balance, productivity, and end up overworking which leads to burn out. Let’s put an end to this vicious cycle and create a “fake commute” routine.
  • Here’s what research has to offer, Oracle’s study reports that 78% of the workforce feel that the pandemic has negatively impacted their mental health and, 85% struggle to maintain a work-life balance and it’s affecting their sleep, health, happiness at home and family relationships. While assessing the productivity spectrum 42% reported that they no longer feel as efficient at work, with 41% being affected by the delineation of work and home lives. 35% struggle to strike a work-life balance and 25% admit to being burnt out. A quarter of respondents reported being depressed.

Ready for a fake commute routine? 

Here’re 5 small changes to add to your day to create a wall between you, your work, and non-work tasks.

1) Set yourself for productivity

The environment around you can influence your behavior. Set an environment or rearrange your space that aligns with your goals. You could be sitting at your kitchen countertop and the end of meal planning for the week, instead of your checking off your to-do lists at work. Find a space that best fits your schedule and comfort. 

Have a plan for the day, to increase your productivity and clarity. It could be as simple as listing your meeting items, staying focused on tasks for the day. Work with your strengths. Analyze what times in the day you are the most productive, start finishing high priority tasks at that time. This can minimize burn out. Don’t forget to add an evening plan to simply relax. Knowing your end time and a pleasurable activity at the end of work can help focus on tasks in hand and end work to transition to “personal time” or wrap up work effectively. 

Some people like to make daily plans in the morning before the start of work, choose what works best for you. Add it to your reminder as a little nudge to build a habit!

2) Tag little break along the day

Taking work breaks would help your mental and physical well-being, in turn, help you stay productive. Considering our attention spans, when you know you are not paying attention, a little walk can act as a cognitive boost. It could also be a change of scenery, following a 20-20-20 rule, take a 20 second break, by looking at an object 20 feet away, every 20-minutes, or a 5 to 10-minute walk. You can also go for a 5 to 10-minute walk, get some fresh air or sunlight. 

While at work, grabbing lunch, climbing stairs, catching up on quick chats are cues that help us move. But work from home might be different. Adding these small breaks and creating opportunities to move can add up in a big way!! Remember that every bit of movement like a 5-minute walk counts! Take advantage of the opportunities you can create around your environment and move. 

3) Add small transitions 

Think of how you’d commute, would you listen to your favorite podcast, drive for 20 minutes to work, or walk to your lunch spot? If you would walk to the office or listen to a podcast, play that transition song before work. Similar to how you’d build transitions for children, as adults we like the little cues before the start of tasks. It can set you up for the task. 

Break the pattern of cycling around the home, restructure a transition task between zoom meetings. If you’d like to dress up or have a cup of coffee in your work from home space, add those little elements. 

4) Architect your new commute

Take 15 minutes to pen down the things you enjoyed in your pre-covid work routine. Try to be specific about the timing, think about the level of happiness you gained those little commute activities by adding your rank on a scale of 1-10. When you are ready with your ranking, try to add it to your new routine.

It could be walking the dog before work, spending time at night planning your outfit, listening to a song or podcast while driving. Start acting the parts you liked into the new normal routine. This helps you to start feeling in control of work-life from a different space, now home!

5) Stretch before and after work 

Add a little stretch to get more flexible before or after work. You can train your brain for a pre-stretch and post-stretch game. A similar commute feeling can create a little movement. It can be simple desk stretches too. 


  • Like physical fitness goals add emotional fitness to your list for 2021.
  • Remember that quantity does not always equal quality.
  • Build awareness around your triggers and always spend time to self-reflect.
  • Get dressed if you like and follow the transitions that work for you!  
  • Add an end of work wrap-up routine, a simple end of tasks like final check on important tasks, emails, etc, can help tune your mind to unwind. 

    Let us know in the comments below, what you’re planning to add to your list to make work from home, work the best for you??

Looking to sleep better, eat a bit healthier, move more, build a practice of self-care, or just want to feel more energy each day? Let Shapa be your virtual coach. Shapa focuses your program based on YOUR lifestyle and YOUR goals so you can build healthy habits and achieve lasting results. Learn more about the Shapa difference

About the author:

Sujatha is the study manager and content creator extraordinaire on the Shapa Health team. With a Bachelor’s in Psychology and Master’s in Clinical Psychology from India, she furthered her academic skills in Applied Behavior Analysis from Ball State University, Indiana, USA. Currently, she resides in Chandler, Arizona. She has 4+ years of expertise as a mental health professional trained in psychometrics and psychotherapy working with children, adolescents and adults. Over the past 2 years, Sujatha developed a passion for mindful living, neuroscience research, human behavior and decision making, and is driven by curiosity and gratitude. As part of the Shapa Health team she designs personalized missions utilizing behavioral science and mindfulness techniques to improve the personal health journey of the Shapa community. When not at work, she enjoys baking, hiking and spending time with family. Connect with Sujatha on LinkedIn.

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