Find the audio version of this post on your favourite podcast app: Inspiritment from Jo Koepke.
We all continue to navigate this changing landscape of what it looks like to work, be home and connect. Working from home is not new for me (although it looks a little different with my husband and daughter home too.) One concept that helps me is having a workday ritual, both for starting up my workday and shutting it down. I find this is true whether I am working for a full day or only for a couple of hours.
A workday startup ritual
A workday startup ritual helps me to be ready to focus. It takes me from simply being at home to being at work without requiring me to travel unless you count travel from the bedroom to my home office of course! This ritual is about what is filling your headspace. It is about putting aside the other task lists and pulls on your attention to focus on the work in front of you.
When young children are around, this may take extra preparation to have them set up with snacks, activities and distractions to make this possible and may only be for short periods. It may mean including them in the startup ritual to cue them into the fact that it is work time now too.
My startup ritual
I find it helpful to see examples of how others implement this concept so here is mine. I don’t aim for perfection in this. There will be days with one or more steps missed out. This isn’t about a checklist but a habit that helps.
- (While my daughter is home) Make sure my daughter has an activity to get involved in, a water bottle and a snack.
- Set up my essential oil diffuser on my desk- usually with something citrus and peppermint.
- Gather a drink (tea on a cool day, an iced drink on a warm one), my water bottle and a snack.
- Set up whichever laptop is appropriate for the work focus of that block (I have three- one for each major role!)
- Start a music playlist on Spotify. (This is a link to a focus playlist I use often.)
- Review today’s Full Focus Planner page and set or review my Daily Big 3 tasks.
- Add my big 3 to my Mastermind group daily check-in for accountability.
- Check Google Tasks (I use this for my master task lists) and add to my planner list.
- Check inbox for urgent tasks and get to inbox zero using snooze feature. (If I am engaging in a writing block first up, I leave this until later in the day as it can send me on rabbit trails and distract me!)
A shutdown workday ritual
This is the one that I have personally found the most challenging, particularly in the past few weeks where I haven’t had the usual rhythms of school pick up or my husband coming home from work. It can be really easy to just keep going, lose track of time or never quite feel like you have finished work for the day. I realised that I had been neglecting my workday shutdown ritual which helps to trigger my brain to switch off from work and be present for my family. I think this could be especially valuable for those who would normally have their travel time home to decompress and switch gears.
This is still a work in progress for me. I hesitate even to share what I have set as my ritual as I have not been following through with it. Maybe in sharing it with you, it will help me to focus on it more and motivate me to stick to it.
My shutdown ritual
- Inbox zero- adding important emails to Google Tasks and using the snooze feature.
- Defer incomplete tasks in Google Tasks and in planner to a future day.
- Unplug laptop from screen and put away.
- Tidy desk and take diffuser back into the house.
- Check in with family
- Choose most appropriate for day and time- play a game with daughter, listen to a podcast or YouTube video while preparing dinner or spend 10 minutes on social media.
I want to add in a 3-5 minute session on the Pause app before going back into the house. Maybe I’ll try that today!
Your workday startup and shutdown rituals will likely look very different from mine. I encourage you to experiment with different elements. See what is going to work for you in this season and for the work times you have- whether full days or snippets here and there. Let’s set ourselves up for fulfilling work and home lives by the habits we create.
Jo is the Managing Director of an organisation called MOPS Australia (Mother’s of Pre-schoolers) which is a volunteer-based organisation. MOPS has over 70 locations where mothers come together to meet and encourage one another. As well as being a Managing Director Jo is a leader, writer and mother.