I’ve been thinking a lot about routines this week. Various experts recommend setting new routines as you move from commuting to the office to working from home. My thought is that it’s not only about setting up new routines; it’s about continuing, even if modified, previous routines that were enjoyable. A few examples:

I’m an early riser and my wife is not. On weekends, I leave the room, close the door and do not disturb her as I go about doing various things. On weekdays, our routine was that I would kiss her goodbye as I left the house to commute to work. At first, I was treating work from home like the weekends, but that left a hole for both of us. After a week or two, I went back to kissing my wife goodbye as I “commuted” to the study. It’s just a small routine, but it brought back to us an important sense of normalcy to our lives.

Another routine I had was listening to a local radio station on the way in each morning. After a few weeks, I realized I missed that connection to start the day, so I set up a new routine, listen to the radio for 20 minutes each morning after breakfast as I start my day. This brought another layer of normalcy back to life and I got a little local perspective to begin each day.

A third routine for me was stopping by the local RaceTrac to get a drink on my commute in every morning. (I already achieved status to get one free drink a week and was working towards the status level for a free drink a day for a year.) Now, getting in the car to drive to RaceTrac doesn’t make a lot of sense, but the idea of taking time to get a drink for my morning in the (home) office made sense to me. So, after breakfast is finished and I’m ready to start my 40-foot commute to the office, I stop during my commute and make myself a drink to take into the office. It was just one more step (pardon the pun) in setting up my new routine for getting myself mentally ready to attack each workday.

An evening routine I developed before COVID-19 was getting home and changing out of my work clothes to something more comfortable and setting out my clothes for the next day (insert favorite geek comment here). The changing clothes part seemed less relevant given my usual attire for working from home (jeans and a decent shirt) and I was already wearing sneakers, so there wasn’t even a need to change shoes. But setting out clothes for the next day was something I could do, so I made that into my new routine. When I shut down my computer and called it a day for working, I would take that 40-foot commute to my room and get out my clothes for the next day. I found that this one activity mentally reinforced I was done working for the day and now it was time to focus on my home and family.

What routines did you give up several weeks ago that are worth restarting? What routines can you modify to give yourself that mental reset that “now it’s time to start work for the day?” What routines do you have for mentally breaking from work and transitioning to being present at home?


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