By Jen Ashenfelter
One benefit of working in an office is the commute home. The 15, 30 or 45 minutes of “me time” between the office and home = valuable transition time from work to family. Whether singing with the radio turned up too loud, finishing another chapter of an audio book, or organizing your thoughts on the evening To Do list, the ability to disconnect from the office is essential for maintaining sanity.
But if you work from home like I do, then you feel the loss of that all-important “evening commute.” I’ll take working from home over being in an office any day, but creating that transition period should still be part of the routine.
My dining room table is my desk which makes walking away from work more challenging. With the computer staring back at me, there’s always one more email, one more sentence to write, or one more items to cross off the To Do list. Meanwhile, everyone is coming through the door requiring my help or waiting for dinner. (Note: The ability to multi-task with my attention … and patience… simultaneously divided between work and home is a chaotic scene at best.)
Here are my tips and ideas for creating that transition time between work and home when you work from home:
Schedule. First, decide when your work day is officially over and schedule a “commute time” into your daily routine. Develop a plan of action—without one, there’s no doubt your “commute time” will get shorter and shorter before there is no transition from work to family. (I hear you, making the time is easier said than done, and believe me, I know. There will be days when work takes over but if you give yourself the period—however brief—to transition, you and your family will be happier.)
Leave. Back away from the computer, files and phone, and physically leave the house. Walk the dog, train for that upcoming 5K, go to the grocery store, or stand in the yard and stare at the sky—doesn’t matter what you do as long as you pass through the door and return later. This will give you the best sense of separation of office and home. Of course, weather extremes such as a polar vortex, record-breaking heat wave, or super storm, may require an alternate plan…
Read. Find a book you hate to put down. When all you want to do is bury your face in that book, quitting time will be easier. (Warning: A riveting story could cause a longer commute.)
Bake. I don’t usually have home-baked goodies in the house for dessert but when the urge for a delicious treat takes hold, cooking seems more fun and less annoying…and you’ll score dinner-time points with the family.
Listen. The right music can adjust a crabby attitude, lift your spirits, or make you dance, so crank up the volume and let loose.
Play. From crossword puzzles to knitting to gardening, set time aside for your favorite activity.
Socialize. Call your sister or best friend to catch up. Invite a few mothers from the neighborhood or school to pop by to chat over a glass of iced tea (or wine). Attend a networking event with people you know in the community. Working from home can be socially isolating so add activities with other professionals, family or friends into your schedule.
With a few moments to unwind from work before getting involved with family responsibilities, you’ll feel less rushed and stressed and, hopefully, much happier. Do you have a “commute time” routine or ideas for making the transition from work to family fun and easy? We’d love for you to share your thoughts on this topic.