What’s Your After Work Routine?

Does it involve shopping like mine involves shopping?

When I worked an office job, I had an after-work routine that I stuck to with regularity. My office was a fifteen minute stroll through a nice-enough park to a two block radius of stores that constitute the majority of my leisurely spending. There was an H&M across the street from a Gap, down the street from a Sephora. Head one block east, and you hit a giant Old Navy, usually not crowded, with a fantastic sale section.

In the summer, I’d take the long way to the train and pass by each of these stores in succession, sometimes two or three times a week. Very rarely would I buy anything; usually I’d leave Sephora smelling like five different kinds of the same perfume and head straight to Old Navy where I’d debate whether or not I needed to buy the pants before deciding that I didn’t and walking to the train in shame.

I love looking at things in a store more than I do actually buying them. Browsing makes me feel like I’ve bought something, and most of the time that’s enough. The after-work routine of contemplating sweaters and sundresses before realizing that no, I don’t need them at all is a nice mental break between the office and the commute. Once I’m home, I’m home for good until the morning. Taking the time to do something after work, even if it is as non-substantive and frankly, useless, as looking at things that I might buy but probably won’t is fine by me. It clears my head and helps me think. It does the trick.

For a while, my after-work routine was the gym. I’d rush home, change into my workout clothes and walk the two blocks to the gym, hoping to plant myself on an elliptical and watch a full episode of American Horror Story and then make it home before it got dark. That routine worked for a while, but then it got too hot to put on leggings, too humid to think about sweating intentionally and then five months flew by and now it’s winter. I could work the gym into a pre-work routine — a calculated move to be a person that Does Things Right — but I haven’t gotten there quite yet. I’m sure I will soon. Maybe next year.

Free time is extremely valuable because the idea of wasting that time is bad. We want to make the most out of our hours, and so we cram as many activities into the time we have to really make it count. My weeknights are precious and being able to have downtime with the activity of my choosing feels very important most weeks. I’ve become accustomed to living my life in a manner that works well for me; not being in a relationship reverts you back to a version of yourself that is not beholden to anyone else. I am particular about my free time now that there is much less of it and have become intractable in my ways.

The routine itself is basically a nice, long walk, with a few detours that I’d otherwise do from the comfort of my home, with my phone a few inches away from my face. Browsing is harmless and it replaces the work cobwebs in my mind with consumption cobwebs instead — much easier to deal with and way easier to clean.

What do you do after work? Do you go home? Do you touch things in a store? Do you take a long walk around a short block, or get a bubble tea and sit down outside? Do you go right home and make dinner lest you starve for the rest of the week? Or are you perfectly capable doing not much at all, except sinking into your couch, picking up a book, and reading until you fall asleep?