With less visibility than going into the office, it can be tempting to roll out of bed and login. I love to sleep in as much as the next person. I get it. If nothing else, it is critical to get ready while WFH because it helps you maintain boundaries which supports prevention of burnout and preservation of our mental health.
On Imgur last week, I saw a meme whose sentiment was along the lines of, “It’s time to stop calling it, ‘Working From Home,’ and instead call it, ‘Living at Work.'” For those of you also fortunate enough to work from home during this cluster of a year, you can appreciate how real that thought is.
And a quick pause on the, “fortunate enough,” bit:
You may not like working from home. In fact, you may hate it. The fact remains that if you are able to work from the safety of your home right now when so many people have either been displaced from employment or have their (and their family’s) health at risk – well, you’re lucky.
That said, just because you frame your situation in the context of being fortunate, doesn’t mean it is invalid to feel stressed or like boundaries are being violated. They are. Everyone’s are.
–and that’s why I still think you should get ready for work.
Three Key Reasons to Get Ready while WFH:
Those of us accustomed to going to an office every day, even if you weren’t routine-driven, had some sort of routine. Here’s roughly what mine looked like on an average day:
- 5:00-5:20 – alarm/snooze/alarm/admit defeat. Get out of bed, do morning hygiene, slap on vit C serum.
- 5:20-5:30 – if I failed myself the night before, pick clothing and get dressed
- 5:30-5:40 – tidy hair, style if needed (I wash every other day, at night)
- 5:40-5:55 – moisturize, sunscreen, facepaint. I can do this in as few as five minutes – and often do. But sometimes I want to channel Bob Ross, damn it, for a little morning zen. Some people do morning yoga; I do this
- 5:55 – put together lunch, acquire caffeine
- 6:00-6:05 – depart for ye olde commute
- 6:35ish – arrive
The commute is actually the key element that orients my brain to transition to, “work mode,” from, “home mode.” It is a consistent boundary that marks the physical transition. With WFH, that is gone.
I’m not a morning person. I hate mornings. That’s why I can’t bring myself to work out in the morning. In spite of this, my workday has an early start AND I get most of my focus work done in the first two hours of my day – so my mornings are crucial.
TL;DR the Boundaries are Hosed
Regardless of whether your routine looks like mine, if you shower in the evening or morning (or both), at minimum you got up, brushed your teeth, did morning grooming tasks, got dressed, and left to travel to work. Even if you were already telecommuting, maybe you popped a coffee shop for a change of scenery. Right now, those luxuries are lost so it is more important to get ready while WFH than ever.
Some of the WFH workforce is on camera often via Zoom, Google Meet, Webex, GoToMeeting, and Teams. This might be for meetings, this might be to satisfy the whims of those on high. Whatever the reason, cameras have a unique way of being unforgiving.
I’m not talking about the pursuit of vanity so much as not looking like death-warmed-over and therefore eliciting concern from your colleagues/leaders/clients that you’re not doing so well.
Concealer, mascara, and blush would be plenty in most cases. As for me, I’m doing a full face because I enjoy it – this includes my Missha BB+ cream (love it still, looks like skin), eyeshadow, liner, mascara, blush. Sometimes lipstick, sometimes not. I haven’t used concealer on its own in over a year; my BB+ cream does enough. A full face is not necessary, but I find it fun – so its a bit of novelty for me.
Maybe you have a magnificent leadership team that trusts the hell out of you and your team. Unfortunately, not everyone is fortunate enough to be led by such enlightened folks as we are hearing regularly.
Simply put, making the effort to get ready while WFH in a manner similar enough to how you would prepare and present yourself to report to an office can help signal to your management that you are still taking your work seriously. That’s never a bad thing.
How I Get Ready While WFH
So here’s what my weekday WFH look like instead:
- night before – designate attire. My WFH wardrobe does not differ from my office attire.
- 6:00-6:20 – alarm/snooze/alarm/admit defeat. Get out of bed, do morning hygiene, slap on vit C serum
- 6:20-6:22 – get dressed
- 6:22-6:25 – tidy hair. I spend VERY LITTLE effort styling during WFH. if what frames my face looks good, that’s really all I care about since the back isn’t visible. Most mornings, this is a quick comb and dry shampoo if needed
- 6:25-6:40 – moisturize, sunscreen (yes, even during ‘Rona-induced WFH), facepaint. This aspect is unchanged because it sparks joy, damn it
- 6:40-6:50 – consume some news, compare schedules with my spouse (so we do not inadvertently disrupt each others’ meetings or focus time)
- 6:50-6:55 – pop downstairs, boot up. fix caffeine (whether it’s cold brew, from the Keurig, aeropress, or a can of either La Colmbe or Hi-Ball while booting up. start the workday.
The Bottom Line
I’ll be candid – how I get ready while WFH isn’t a substitute for my usual routine. But it is something to help segment my day and create a boundary between, “my,” time and work time. It is better than nothing helps me get in gear to use my brain and skills to produce.