For a year now, I’ve been working part-time out in the world and part-time from home. Even though I love my job working as a writing consultant at the local university, I always look forward to heading home. By the time my shift is over, I’ve had my healthy (and necessary) share of people time, and I’m ready to go back into my own world, whether that’s to relax or work on other things.
To keep from losing my mind, I’ve picked up a few habits to make transitioning from work to home pretty easy. Additionally, because I also work from home, I don’t want to lose my momentum in the transition; i.e., I try not to veg on the couch as soon as I make it home.
The following tips help me transition from work to home—and I hope they can help you, too! Even if your work stays at work, I bet there are some creative projects that you’d like to work on during your downtime after work—or maybe you just want to avoid those energy-zapping post-work blahs, when you feel either too wound up or even *too tired* to relax.
1. Get your stuff in order as soon as you home home. By “stuff,” I mean anything that you bring home with you from work. For me, this means hanging up my coat, putting my shoes away, washing my lunch tupperware, and setting my laptop up in my home office (a.k.a the little desk in the corner of our living room). Settling back in this way makes me feel like the rest of the day has a clean slate. I also find it helpful to leave my desk area neat before I leave for work—it makes a big difference to come back to a tidy space.
2. Get comfortable. This something I’ve done since my days in middle school. My parents, hoping to keep my nice school clothes clean and intact, encouraged me to change into “play” clothes as soon as I got home from school. Now, at 26 years of age, I almost can’t function until I change out of my work clothes. It may seem kind of silly, since I go to work in jeans and cardigans—not exactly a stiff pantsuit, but I immediately feel more “at home” as soon I put on my leggings and fuzzy socks.
3. Create a post-work ritual. Some quiet minutes of yoga or stretching can help create a boundary between work and home. Since our mailbox is on the other side of our complex, it provides a good excuse for a nice little stroll. I love checking the mail now! A small amount of physical activity is also good way to de-stress and reconnect to your body, especially if you’ve been in your “head” all day or staring at a computer screen.
4. Have a non-work talk. When my fiancé and I get home from work, we usually talk about work for about five minutes (unless something crazy happened), but we usually end up chatting about other things or breaking down into silliness and having a one-sided conversation with our cat (who just looks on in stoic judgment). It makes me feel little more human and reminds me that there’s a whole universe outside of the building where I work (yes, one that includes my favorite feline). If you don’t live with someone, call or text a friend or relative. Ask them about their world.
5. If you’re planning to do more work at home, designate some time as “work” time. I have a little Monica Geller-Bing in me—cleaning kind of excites me. But I must resist the pile of laundry if I’m “at work” at home! I find it helpful to set aside work time during which I vow not to multitask. I remind myself that there will be plenty of time to reorganize the medicine cabinet or mop the floors (even if it doesn’t feel like there is!), and home tasks will feel much less stressful if I don’t have work hanging over my head.
6. Make your home work as pleasant as possible. Just because you’re working, it doesn’t mean that you have to feel like you’re “at the office.” Create an environment that inspires you. I like to put on soft music, light a scented candle on my desk, and make a cup of tea.
7. But don’t forget to set aside true downtime. When I’m working from home in the evenings, I make myself stop at 9PM. From 9:00-10:00, I can do whatever I please—like watch part of a movie, read a book, journal, or do some pre-bed yoga. By 10:00, I can barely floss my teeth, so I usually crash, but you can set aside downtime whenever—and for however long—as you want.
Do you have an after-work ritual that helps you unwind? Please share! 🙂
Photo: our.city.lights via Flickr