If you’ve ever worked from home, you’ve been there: Circa 6 pm, your roommate or partner gets home from their in-office job, and they walk in on a bleary-eyed, caffeinated trash squirrel instead of the human they said bye to in the morning. There are at minimum seven beverage containers on your desk and your computer chair has permanently absorbed the smell of reheated spaghetti.
How did it come to this? Well, succumbing to the whack habits of the freelance lifestyle is much easier than it looks: You wake up at a normal-person hour, but you’re so ready to get to work that you never even bother to change out of your pajamas. You probably brush your teeth, but in hindsight it’s all a blur, so maybe not. In the instance that you do bother to get dressed, you’re throwing off any sense of normalcy by wearing gigantic tube socks, because your feet are always cold and no one is around to judge you.
Look: No one’s here to tell you you’ve got to change your ways. You’re living the work-from-home dream, and the side-eye your roomie is giving you is just jealousy. But speaking from experience, there can be a lot of benefit in structuring your workday a little more; in fact, studies show that whatever you choose to wear has an effect on your mindset and productivity. Check out the following ways you can run the ship a little tighter, even if you’re the only passenger during the workday:
1. Change out of your PJs. I know, I know: this is supposedly the big draw of working from home! If you’re new to the game, go ahead and indulge for a short while. But in the long run, changing out of your sleeping clothes and into working clothes creates an important mental distinction. Mind you, “working clothes” doesn’t have to mean a blouse and trousers; I used to change into workout clothes in the morning as a means to encourage myself to work out at the end of the day. Sometimes it actually worked.
2. Put on a bra. Don’t get me wrong; I love free-boobing as much as anyone. But for me, putting on a bra keeps me from thinking about my boobs and distracting questions such as “What color are my nipples going to turn if I ever get pregnant and breastfeed?” Out of sight out of mind. Also: putting on a bra means you get to take it off at the end of the day, and how great a feeling is that?
3. Trick your hair into thinking you did something with it. Combating the oil slick that’s forming in and around your hairline by hitting it with a few puffs of dry shampoo is good practice, but for all the time I spent staring at my hair in the mirror, convincing myself that I’m really pulling off this Patti Smith vibe, I wish I would’ve taken up this practice sooner: I started washing and blowdrying my bangs first thing in the morning so I wouldn’t think about it through the course of the day. Again, out of sight, out of mind. Business in the front, trash squirrel in the back.
4. Do a mid-day refresh. One thing I miss about working from home? Having all the toothbrush access I could possibly want. (Yeah, you can bring one to an office job, but it’s just not the same.) After lunch, I loved brushing my teeth and spraying some kind of hydrating mist on my face, like Glossier’s Soothing Face Mist or LUMION Skin Mist. Pro tip: Do not, under any circumstances, use this time to pop a huge zit in the mirror. It’s always, always a mistake.