One of the biggest perks of working from home is not having a commute. I don't have to deal with traffic. With that traffic often comes the stress of other people being in a rush or being late or just being self-centered and making other people have to deal with their idiocy. That's why more people get to the office already stressing, than getting to the office relaxed and ready to start the day.
But, your commute does play an important role that a lot of people may be missing right now (and you might not even realize it!). Your commute is the thing that separates home from work, and work from home.
Without that separation, it's easy for those things to blur together.
As someone who has worked at home for a long time knows, here are some ways to find that separation so that you can be more focused, more productive, and less stressed.
1. Fake Your Commute. For some people, this is a perfect way to ease into the work day when working from home. Literally, get in your car and do something. You can simply drive around the block, go to a drive-thru and get some coffee or breakfast, make a couple phone calls or listen to an audio book. Do whatever you would normally do on your way to work. Then, pull into your driveway, walk inside, sit down and get to work. Your brain and your body recognizes this routine. If it works for you, don't lose it! It may be an important aspect to you switching into "work mode."
2. Treat Your Workspace Just as You Do at Work. When you are working from home, it is easy to let your work space and home space intermingle. What I mean by that is, if you are using your laptop to answer work emails or work on a work project, but then you take it over to the couch and watch something on Netflix without separating the two, it's easier to find yourself answering work emails at ten o'clock at night. There was no closure to the work day. When you are done working for the day, shut off your computer, organize your space a bit, get up, leave the room and shut the door. Even if you are going to use that space or that computer later that evening for something non-work related, you put a mental and physical end to your work day. This also helps you to start the next day in a good place, as you will need to turn the computer on, sit down, and get ready to start working. That little bit of closure and separation will go a long way.
3. Create "Bookends" For Your Day. By setting work hours and a lunch break for yourself, you give your brain and body the ability to have what I call "bookends." When you set bookends for your day, you know when you're getting in and you know when you're getting out. Lots of stuff might happen in the middle, but the start and stop are already decided upon. If you choose to work between nine and five, for example, at nine o'clock you need to be in front of your computer stating work. At five, you need to be turning off your computer and walking away from it. Those bookends are non-negotiable. Your bookends are like "game time." Once you are in the game, you are in the game; and when the clock runs out, the game is over. Your starting bookend is the equivalent of an umpire yelling, "Play Ball!" or the pistol shot at a track meet event. Your ending bookend is the equivalent of the Loud buzzer at the end of a basketball game or the credits rolling at the end of your favorite show. It's over!
As you continue to navigate the new waters of having work and home be one in the same, cut yourself some slack, but also give yourself the chance for a positive outcome.
Finding your own ways to 'separate' will help you to have a positive and productive work from home experience.