I’ve worked from home full time for 7 years.
I spent the first 15 years in corporate America and then made the transition to a home office when I started my own business in 2013. It wasn’t easy. I had to quickly learn how to be productive in my house without the helpful structure a company provides.
Right now, you might be in the same position. With the Coronavirus, more workers are at home than ever before. Over the next few weeks, I’ll share some tips that have helped me, starting today with the simplest bit of advice I can possibly give you:
Put on pants.
Too fast for you? Let me repeat it. Put on pants.
I know what you’re thinking. “But isn’t the dream to work from home in your pajamas?” Isn’t flannel our final destination when it comes to our career aspirations? Won’t knocking out work in a robe show us we have finally arrived? Let me answer those questions with one of my own.
Have you ever spent the whole day in your pajamas?
Around 11AM you start to question every one of your life decisions. Even the people on the Price is Right got showered, dressed and made it in time somewhere to be part of a studio audience. They might be aggressively average at guessing the price of a vacuum cleaner but they did something today.
It’s impossible to do great work while wearing pajamas.
Pajamas are clothes melatonin.
By day three, flannel feels like failure.
And yet, that’s our goal as employees.
The work at home dream is that you can do your job in your pajamas. Is that what’s been holding you back all these years, belts? Is the most challenging part about climbing the corporate ladder that you weren’t wearing flannel?
What about pants? How come we boast to each other that, “I worked from home today and didn’t even put on pants.”
Was that previously an issue? You sat in meetings, furious at the corporate norms that kept you in pants. “I hate these pants so much. Someday, I dream of a world where I won’t be kept down by the pantiarchy.”
That’s ridiculous. I’m not saying you need to put on a tuxedo. You don’t need tails, a top hat and a monocle. You’re not Mr. Peanut, but I promise you that getting dressed each day for work even if you’re at home will pay dividends. It’s not about the pants, it’s about the routine they help trigger. You forget how many triggers your normal work day used to have in an office.
Your commute was a trigger.
The music you listened to on the drive in was a trigger.
Making sure you had your badge to get into the building was a trigger.
The sound your feet made walking across the marble lobby was a trigger.
Even the terrible breakroom coffee was a trigger.
Each one was telling your mind, “It’s go time!” We’re here to work. We’re here to be productive. We’re here to be successful. Each trigger was reinforcing behaviors and actions you’ve been propelled by for years.
Pajamas are triggers, too. They tell you it’s time to relax. It’s time to slow down. It’s time to binge watch a show about a dude who owned way too many tigers and definitely should have lived in Tampa, Florida. How in the world did, “The Tiger King” end up in Oklahoma?
When you work from home, you instantly lose access to a thousand different helpful triggers. It’s your job to recreate the ones that will encourage you the most. There are a lot of ways you can do this, but I suggest you start with pants. Start with a shower. Start with getting dressed up like you’re going somewhere. Remind your mind that some things have changed but some are still the same. You’ve got work to do.
It’s go time.
Put on some pants.
P.S. I’m going all in on YouTube this year. If you want fresh, funny content that’s surprisingly helpful, subscribe to me today!