A Guide to Working From Home
Home is where the heart is. And for the foreseeable future, it’s also where the work, learning, and virtual hangouts will be. On the bright side, this means your commute just went from miles to a few steps from one room to the next. On the downside, it can get harder and harder to pull yourself out from under your cozy weighted blanket, and change out of those comfy PJs, to be productive. Is it even necessary? Experts say yes.
While some opt to fall into a uniform of sweatpants and pajamas when no dress code is enforced, others choose a “work from home mullet,” business on top and party on the bottom. But psychologists and stylists alike agree that getting dressed for the day, along with a structured, morning routine, helps to improve mood, boosts productivity and maintains a sense of normalcy – something that is very important for maintaining a positive, mental outlook.
“You should still get dressed. It impacts your productivity, your mood and your mindset,” says wardrobe stylist Sydney Murdock. “There’s no need to go all out with what you’d typically wear outside the home. You’re still at home, so comfort is important and expected. But finding a balance between that comfort and the structure of getting dressed for the day will make all the difference.”
For women, Murdock suggests a comfortable dress, like a t-shirt dress or sweatshirt dress. “This is the closest thing to pajamas, but can be taken to the next level by layering your favorite sweater or cardigan over it,” she explains. “Keep it chill with white sneakers.” For men, she suggests a button-down shirt in a comfortable, breathable fabric.
Have a video call on the schedule? Murdock says to look for more structured and polished details around the head and neck, like collars and buttons, embellished sleeves, and simple jewelry. As for fit, Murdock says, go oversized to get that extra comfort you crave at home.
A shirt collar isn’t the only thing needing structure. Your schedule needs it too, according to Jenn Simpson, LISW-S, trauma therapist and owner of Thrive Therapy, Inc.
“The hustle and bustle of everyday life has us leaning on something more than we realize, and that’s structure. For better or worse, it structures your day. You know when you need to get up, what to wear, where to be, and what you need to get done. It keeps a sense of normalcy in place,” says Simpson. “For a lot of us, that was recently shifted or taken away completely. It can have a negative effect on our motivation and emotional well-being, because the things we could control to a certain degree, have changed. So, what can be helpful is to set forth some sort of a structure in your daily life.”
Simpson suggests creating a schedule for your day that includes self-care, movement, productivity and emotionally filling your cup. “Getting into this rhythm will help you feel more control or influence over a situation where a lot of that control has been taken away or shaken up,” she adds.
Start with a consistent nightly routine and bedtime window. Simpson says having a routine that you do every night — whether that’s lighting a candle and taking a bubble bath, or just taking the time to wash your face and get into PJs — do it consistently to train your mind that it’s time for bed.
Simpson suggests the same for your morning routine. “Waking up around the same time and taking care of yourself with things like good hygiene and a change of clothes will signal it’s time to take on the day,” she explains.
As for physical activity, Simpson says it should be scheduled like a meeting. “I recommend setting a certain time of day where you get that movement,” she adds, “whether that’s a walk outside, working out in your home or a yoga class online.”
Murdock says this is the time for leggings to shine. A casual look at home that’s fluid for your day can be leggings and a layering tank or graphic tee. Add a denim jacket you can take off for a lunchtime yoga session and throw back on for your afternoon video call.
Simpson says it’s also important to do something that helps you feel productive and accomplished. “This can be work, learning, finishing a project, or something of the like,” she explains. “Lastly, it’s important to do something once a day that fills your cup. We all need to refuel. We can’t be giving, giving, giving. It’s not an endless source.”
She suggests diving into a hobby, reading a book, journaling, or connecting with a loved one. “Just make sure you weave something that fills you up into your schedule,” Simpson says. “We’re being pulled in a lot of directions right now, but this helps pull you back to center.”