In exactly one week I will be reaching my first year as a freelancer, following 11 years of working as an employee at Landor Associates. I thought a fitting way to celebrate this milestone: sharing some surprises and learnings this new independence has brought with it by starting a sporadic series of posts I’ll call Now that I freelance I know.

But first, let’s take a walk.

Throughout the 11 years I worked at Landor, my morning routine involved enjoying a long breakfast while reading the print version of the New York Times, followed by a half hour walk to the office. For ten years this walk was along the Embarcadero, since I lived in SoMa. The last year I moved to Russian Hill, and the walk looked like the clip above (well, if condensed to 30 seconds or less).

As an employee, that walk was a result of necessity. I had to go to the office to work. But I never understood the importance this walk had in my daily life until I started working freelance from home. Suddenly, my commute became as short as steps between my bedroom and living room. I could work immediately after breakfast.

And so I did. Within a week, I noticed something. After working for an hour or two I would begin feeling restless. It didn’t take long to realize I needed a new routine! I needed to continue “walking to work.” After finishing breakfast, I began resorting to going for a half hour walk, destination uncertain. It felt right, clearing my head for the day ahead.

That was just one of many new routines I had to create for myself. Slowly a repertoire began to emerge. Settling on what chair to use when I work. When and how long lunch breaks should be. And a big one: how to “leave the office” or signal I’m done for the day. Since I work on a laptop, between 5pm and 6pm it goes into a drawer, not to be seen again until the morning walk the following morning.

Many people imagine freelance life as a free-from-schedules, you-must-work-in-pijamas kind of life. And there must be many freelancers out there that do that. Not me. My living room is my office and I noticed I’m more efficient if I treat it as such. During regular hours. And always after going for a walk.