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Meaningful ways to increase your productivity, performance and well-being backed up by scientific research.

Skip the Drive and Thrive!

As I talk with human resources professionals at organizations across the country I continue to hear about delays in plans to return to the office and ongoing work at home situations. As I read the news and talk with friends I also hear joy in those delays – many people are excited to have the option to continue to work remotely, whether on a hybrid or full-time basis.  In conversations with others I hear about how remote work is fatiguing and they really want to return to the office to re-connect with co-workers and get back to a sense of “normalcy.” Whether you are loving your remote work or hating it, I have some quick strategies that can help you thrive.

First, consider your logistics. I would love to have a home office with a door and a window so I can close myself off and have a serene view to the outer world. For me, that just isn’t a reality and I know it’s not a reality for many others as well.  So what can we do?  Create a work space. This space should have physical boundaries and be your space – a place where you can go to focus and concentrate. This doesn’t have to be the same space every day, but I recommend having an office storage space that is consistently yours. Have a drawer or a closet shelf where you can put your computer and work materials so that when your work day is over, it’s truly over. When your work is put “away”  you will be less tempted to log in and “just answer a quick email” and you will be less distracted by a project that is weighing on you heavily every time you glance at your computer. Just because you work at home doesn’t mean your home and your personal life should be taken over by your work!

Second, create some work rituals. Rituals help us make easier transitions with fewer questions and fewer opportunities for misdirection. On remote work days, create a signal for your body and brain that you are working and this is not your personal free time. For example, every day I get fully dressed in professional work clothes.  This means I wear a nice top and nice pants!  No one sees my pants – why does that matter?  It matters because when I am fully dressed for work my body tells my brain I am in “work mode.”  This means I’m working – not doing laundry or running out to pull the weeds that I spotted from my window. This also tells everyone else in my house that I am in work mode.  When my work day is over I change into casual clothes and that is my signal that it’s now my work day is over and I can do the house and home things I need to do.

Another example of a ritual is to create a list at the beginning of each day. Consider your tasks and projects that are urgent and most important and write those clearly and concretely at the top of the list. Then add in additional tasks (clearly and concretely) that you would like to get done. Remind yourself of these tasks by glancing at your list throughout your day. At the end of the day close out this ritual by crossing off what you completed. This helps you clear your mind and set the stage for your work the next day.  I like to write a new list as the “last thing” I do each work day so that in the morning I can review that list, revise it as necessary, and hit the ground running.

Setting up work space and creating some rituals for our at-home work days can help us to feel more focused and engaged during the work day. It also helps us create more separation for when our work day is over. Hopefully these logistical strategies inspire you to skip the drive and thrive!