I Get Dressed Every Day to Work From Home, but Not for the Reason You Think

updated Jul 31, 2020
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I’ve been working from home for eleven years, so when we went on lockdown, that component of things was nothing new. I know from over a decade of experience that staying in my pajamas all day, for me, does not make for a productive day, or even a particularly upbeat one.

Almost every day, I get ready, just as if I were going somewhere (albeit somewhere casual) to work. This includes “hard” pants and makeup. Getting dressed helps me tune into the mindset of applying myself whole-heartedly to both my writing work and my work-from-home mom work.

The idea of getting dressed for work even if you work from home is no longer a novel productivity hack for those who found themselves working from home unexpectedly around mid-March. If you haven’t tried it and you’ve noticed your motivation waning or your restlessness growing as you continue to log in your hours from the couch or a makeshift desk, it’s worth a shot.

The practice of getting dressed to my feet (we don’t wear shoes in the house, so I stay barefoot) signals how the rest of my day will be spent and how energetically I’ll get it done. But there’s another, more subtle but, I think, probably far more important reason to get fully dressed even when working from home: so that I can change out of those very clothes later in the day.

Why Changing *Out* of My Clothes is an Important Part of My Day:

Although I’ve been working from home since long before the pandemic, what’s taken me by surprise is how much the hours and days and weeks, and now, even months, blur into one another. With very little to punctuate my time, counter to what you might expect, it goes by super fast.

On top of that, when there’s so little outside structure to your day, the lines between work life and home life blur as well. You might be used to not-checking work emails on the weekend from your old life, but when work happens from home and you get interrupted by children who are also home and feel like your work day is compromised, it’s harder than ever to clock out.

But it’s also more important than ever to rest and to rest deliberately. Putting on work-appropriate clothes delineates work mode from home mode with a “uniform” that has more of an effect than you might readily realize about where your head and heart is.

The time of day that I switch into pajamas or comfy clothes tells my body and mind that I’ve entered the relax-and-recharge segment of the day. I can shed the bad and relish what went well.

It’s time to stop and be still, and the simple act of changing my clothes from something that I purposefully put on ushers me into remembering what it’s all for, so I’m better equipped to do it again. Far more than merely a wardrobe change, putting my clothes on in the morning makes the after-work moment possible.