Today is day 1 of our 5-day Work From Home Challenge. Thank you so much for joining us.
Our goal by the end of the challenge is to give you the skills, habits, structure, and tools to work from home. We want you to be as productive at home as you are in the office (or even more so!).
Before we deal with all the distractions and challenges that working from home can throw at us, we need to deal with one significant roadblock: ourselves.
A piece of advice that stuck
Back in 2010, I left my corporate job in downtown Vancouver and planned to work from home.
Well, “planned” might be overstating it. I knew that I wanted to work from home. I knew that I wanted to take my kids to school, and I knew that I wanted to be home with them when school was out. I knew (more or less) what I would do throughout the day for work.
I can’t honestly say I had given too much thought about how I would work from home.
On my last day in the office, one of my soon-to-be-former coworkers pulled me aside with a concerned look on her face.
“Brooks,” she said, “my boyfriend works from home, and he does NOTHING all day. Make sure if you’re going to work from home, you treat it seriously. If you don’t, you’ll end up being lazy like him.”
My immediate thought was, “I wonder what my wife says to her coworkers about me,” but then I realized I had to do some thinking about how to work from home successfully. Clearly, it doesn’t just happen.
The first thing I did? Get dressed for work, even when working from home.
Why dressing for work is important
At first, being able to work from home sounds great. You can roll out of bed, stumble over to your laptop in your pajamas or workout clothes, and go.
It is certainly possible to do that — after all, no one is going to send you home for your dress when you are already there.
However, getting dressed for work has three benefits that will make you more productive when working from home:
- It helps maintain some semblance of your routine. If you are switching from working in an office to working from home, getting dressed in the morning before you go to work will be at least one constant. And routines are a strong defense against overwhelm and procrastination.
- Showering, doing your hair, and getting dressed up is a powerful signal to your brain that you are transitioning from “home time” to “work time.” This is especially important when you are living and working in the same physical location. It may be just a few feet between your kitchen table and your workspace (or your kitchen table may be your workspace), so you need all the help you can get to trigger the shift in mindset.
- Getting dressed up for work is a signal to others in your home that you are switching from “home you” to “work you.”
What do we mean by “dress up for work”?
We aren’t saying you need to put a suit and tie or your favorite power dress on when you get up in the morning (unless you think it will help you get focused).
It’s okay and only natural to be a bit more casual when working from home, although studies have shown that more formal clothing encourages deeper and more perceptive thinking.
The key is to wear something approximating what you would wear to the office. Something that says to you and everyone around you “I’m working” vs. “I’m watching Friends on Netflix.”
Having said that, stores in the US are reporting that sales of tops are increasing, but not bottoms because of the increase in Zoom and Skype calls. Walmart’s EVP of Corporate Affairs says:
We’re seeing increased sales in tops, but not bottoms. So, people are concerned, obviously, from the waist up.
If you’re wearing sweatpants or shorts on your next Zoom call, your secret is safe with us.
Now it is time for you to take action. Every day of this challenge, we’ll have homework for you. Remember — there’ll never be meaningful change in your life without action!
Put space on your calendar to take action on this exercise and the rest of the activities for the next five days. You want to make sure you have time set aside to do the exercises. We appreciate you reading, but reading is not enough!
Here are your action items:
- Plan what you’re going to wear for work tomorrow.
- For bonus points, set it out tonight, so it is ready in the morning.
- For extra bonus points, plan your work wardrobe for the rest of the week. Then you won’t need to think about it, and that’s one less decision you need to make every day.
- Let us know in the comments once you’re done, and even better: let us know what you’re going to wear!
(For the record, I will be wearing a button-up shirt from Muji up top, and Uniqlo pants.)
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Update: Day 2 is now live.