The world has changed, and I have finally decided to change with it. During the first few months of COVID, my denial ran rampant, and I refused to make the necessary changes to my life. Five months in, I have acknowledged and accepted the change and the new normal I chose to create, which includes full-time working from home.
Every person struggles to transition to working from home in some way. For the past three years, I’ve worked primarily from my home office. But the closing of the economy has disrupted my work life, making my days even more online and more at home than they have ever been. It’s been a struggle for sure, but it has not been all negative. Through the disruption, I have grown as an individual, family man and professional. To thrive at the home office, I have learned to create a physical and mental workplace, which I want to share to spark some encouragement as you continue to work from home.
1. Create a start of day and end of day routine. When I worked outside the home, the drive to and from the office offered time to change my mindset and ready myself for what’s coming. That time is gone. Therefore, I created a routine to help me shift from home to a professional mindset. Each workday, I make a cup of coffee, assess my yearly/quarterly goals and review my calendar to take the necessary time to enter my professional mindset. Another routine occurs at the end of the day, where I empty my inbox, review tomorrow’s calendar, clean my desk and place my phone on its charger before I open my office door to enter my home life. Create your routine to enter and exit your home office.
2. Dress for the office. The days of dressing my best to look the part for clients ended when I began working from home, other than for critical meetings. What did not change was my need to enter the desired mentality for professional success. Every day I have begun to consciously dress professionally in comfortable clothes to signify the mental shift from a personal mindset to a professional mindset. The clothes function as a cue to enter the business mindset needed to perform at my professional best, and vice versa at the end of the day.
3. Set phone and computer on chargers. At the end of the workday, I place my phone and computer on their chargers until the kids are down for bed. Why? Because when I walk by the phone or computer on the counter, the compulsion to check them hits me. So I remove the temptation, allowing me to fully engage with my family, thus separating me from work. This also shows consistent limits to colleagues and clients about when I am and am not reachable.
4. Plan a weekly event with the family. When I feel connected and thriving at home, it provides permission to fully engage at work. Work and personal life are integrated. Actively planning weekend walks and activities give my home life the same forethought as work, preparing my home life for success. That success gives me happiness and contentment at home, leading me to feel ready to create the same success at work.
5. Accept the blending of work and home. Clear boundaries between work and personal are a fallacy. Rather than fight to keep pure separation, I do the best possible to embrace when they blend. When I accept my son running into my office interrupting my work, I have a happy moment with him rather than frustration that lingers into my workplace. Accept working from home entails wonderful distractions.
I’ve heard about many people who work harder and longer at home from lacking clear delineation. It is hard. I will not lie. But steps can be taken to create new routines and rhythms to help you succeed while working from home.