The vibration of the jackhammer busting through the foundation next door rattled my office windows. I could feel tension spreading up my jaw as my rambunctious puppy Diego’s I-hate-the-mailman barks echoed up the stairs.
I knew it was only a matter of time before one of my kids interrupted another meeting to settle a Nerf battle turf war. My heart began to pound and I realized I had to get out. So I did.
Fresh air flooded my senses. The stability of the ground under my feet brought me back to the here and now as I stepped out into my neighborhood. And I kept walking. Away from the noise, away from the distractions, away from my own internal chaos.
My jaw relaxed. My joints sighed with relief. The wind cooled me down. My breathing regulated and I felt like I could actually think. (As it turns out, walking does improve cognitive function.)
I wasn’t trying to escape my reality anymore.
I wasn’t ignoring my surroundings, I wanted to be a part of them.
I was brought back to presence.
I dialed my next client and coached them as my mile count climbed. I was alert, energized, and wholly present.
That night, as I reflected on my day with my trusty journal and fountain pen, it dawned on me that I had been denying myself an option without even realizing it. I can hear the laughs of my loved ones as I write this because, admittedly, I rarely deny myself anything…But I totally had been.
The work-from-home revolution created a lot of much-needed (and overdue) flexibility in the world of business. With remote work, you can check your email after a long day of exploring Patagonia or Zoom in from a cozy cafe in London. You can hug your children between meetings or book a morning doctor’s appointment without having to account for a lengthy commute. And all my SoCal neighbors know that avoiding the 405 during rush hour is as good as gold.
But we’ve also confined ourselves to an office of sorts, whether it’s your actual home office or kitchen counter. That supposed flexibility has become increasingly more rigid.
You have to create the flexibility you need. You have to make choices to support your productivity.
I was still putting myself in a box, even though I had the freedom of working from home. I thought it was a “productive” thing to stay at my desk. I thought I needed to push through the discomfort because everyone else must do that too…right?
What a bunch of BS.
I didn’t need to grin and bear construction noise, puppy chaos, and interruptions, but I had been choosing to. It was time to make a different choice. I could create more ease in my life by simply opening the door and stepping outside. And the difference it made for me- my energy, my creativity, my joie de vivre- was a delicious reward.
Since then, I coach remotely, delegate to my team, and brainstorm outside of my office most of the time.
And the most awesome part? Now, often, the person on the other end of the call throws on their walking shoes too.