So, you’ve already given your WFH set up a refresh. The essentials taken care of to make your one space serve two purposes. At this point, it looks like we won’t be going back into offices anytime soon. By now, the novelty of being at home while working has worn off.
What your current WFH situation may be missing is switches – rituals and small habit shifts to turn your home into office mode, and for you to turn on your work mode. The best thing about switches? You can always turn them off.
Build some boundaries with the help of work ‘buttons’ you can install into your home. It’s the only way we’ll be able to get through this (what seems probable) endemic, with all our faculties and sanities intact.
Get dressed (up)
Even if it’s just from the waist up, it’s more than half the battle won. Yes, wearing non-stretchy pants at home feels weird but try putting on a nice top and starting your day with a light skincare and makeup routine. With or without a Zoom meeting in your calendar – a fresh pop of colour on your lips or a swipe of eyeliner will make you feel like you’re ‘showing up’. Also, let’s be real – are any of our lipstick collections seeing the light of day with all of that mask-wearing?
Discover your ‘Let’s Get Down to Business’ ritual
If you’re using a space in your house that doubles up as your desk or home office, then a ritual to transform the space makes all the difference. It could be swapping out the dining chair to your desk chair, or setting up your laptop table, or setting up all the sofa cushions in a corner. It may seem tedious – but this rote daily habit will kickstart your brain into getting ready for business. For me, it’s opening the blinds, filling a jug of water and placing an empty glass next to me as I settle into work.
Adjust with sights, sounds and smells
If you share a home with other humans (and/or pets), then it’s more than just carving out a physical space. It could just be the simple act of putting on your blue screen glasses, your noise-cancelling earphones or switching on a desk diffuser.
Also, there’s nothing like music to hype you up! Consider building a ‘switch-on work’ music playlist to kick off your ritual.
An app to keep tabs on your to-do list
If you already use the Pomodoro technique for productivity, kudos to you. To the uninitiated, Pomodoro is a time management method using a timer to break work down into intervals – traditionally 25 minutes each and separated by short breaks. The Focus To-Do app takes it one step further – it takes your to-do list and bakes it into a Pomodoro timer. Make a list, decide how much time each task will take, and get started!
It seems like a no-brainer but a beeped timer will keep you from getting distracted with overly ambitious tasks.
Honour that lunch break!
A lunch break is the best way to remind you that work is work. Order a lunch delivery in advance, or prepare it the night before. If you were at the office, you’d stop for lunch too. That shouldn’t change at home – use it to step away from your work zone, meaning no eating at your desk, even if it’s the dining table! Find another part of the house to eat at and if the dining table is your only option, then try it on the other side where your workspace is not set up.
Boundaries, a concept! It’s one that’ll change your WFH life, even if it’s not literal spaces carved out for an office at home. All that work may seem tedious, but when you do clock off and ‘go home’ aka packing up your computer and makeshift office for the day, switching off work mode will feel that much sweeter as you settle into the sofa to unwind.
Mabel Ho is a writer and editor. She loves pop culture criticism and podcasts, often listening to them at 1.5x speed like a monster. Follow her at @lynnegweeny