How to get into work mode when you work from home: Part 1

You had great intentions to get in a full day of work but at some point you look at the clock and realise it’s 3pm and somehow all you’ve done today is… have a shower and wash some dishes? How did that happen?

Look, I’ve been there. Working from home doesn’t always come naturally. And no, you’re not just making it up. There are Brain Reasons why it can be hard to get to work when you’re at home. (The good news is that understanding the Brain Reasons can help you to beat the procrastination monster.)

Why doesn’t it come naturally?

Human brains think in heavily, endearingly location-based ways. Bedroom = place for sleep. Kitchen = place for food. We strongly associate places with the activities we do in them.

When you have a workplace, your brain associates that place with work. You show up at work, and your brain knows that it’s time to get to work.

You see the problem when it comes to working from home, right?

Your brain doesn’t associate your home with work, because you also do all kinds of other things in your home.

So you need to help your brain out. You need to tell it that you’re in a worky-location (and not in a relaxy-location) when you want to get to work at home.

How to tell your brain that you’re in a worky-location

Yes, our brains do think in heavily and endearingly location-based ways. But they’re also endearingly easy to trick.

You don’t actually need to change buildings to get your brain thinking like you just walked into a swanky, private corner office.

If you’ve ever walked into a room that’s been decorated for a party, or just been painted, and thought “Wow, this feels like a completely different room,” then you know what I’m talking about. Different colours, angles of view, sounds, and even clothes can trick your brain into thinking it’s somewhere completely different.

Here are some options for tricking your brain:

  1. Set aside a place in your home for work. If you have a home office, great. If not, then maybe there’s a small desk or table you can claim as a work-only space. Maybe there’s a particular chair in your living room that you never use when you’re relaxing (because hey, it faces away from the TV) that you can use as your work-chair.
  2. Change how things look on your computer when you’re in work mode. Create a separate profile on your PC to use when you’re working, with a different wallpaper image. Set a background image for your work email inbox that’s different to your personal email inbox. (Bonus points if you use colours that you associate with your job, such as company branding colours.)
  3. Have work-specific music. Have a playlist of work music! Just make sure that it’s music that actually allows you to concentrate.
  4. Wear work-appropriate clothing. This one isn’t my favourite, because I just really like being comfortable, you guys. But a lot of people swear by putting on business attire and shoes (apparently the shoes are very important) to get themselves into a worky frame of mind. This trick will probably work better for you if you come from a corporate background and have actually worn business attire at work before.

What are your tricks for getting into work mode?

Sometime soon I’ll write publish “Part 2” to this post with more ideas for getting into work mode. But for now, I’d love to know what are your tips and tricks? How do you tell your brain it’s work time? Let me know in the comments!


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You probably already know whether you're a "morning lark" or a "night owl".

So answer me this: Did you know that you can work with (instead of against) your personal daily rhythm by tweaking the work you do at different times of day?

Many people force their brain to do the wrong kinds of work at the wrong times. Not you! You can work with your body's natural rhythm. Find out how in this free pdf download.

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