This Candle Trick Helps Me Set Boundaries While WFH—And Stay Focused and Productive

One of the hardest parts about working from home is maintaining a clear delineation between "work" and everything else. When your "office" is really your couch or kitchen counter, it can be all too easy to get sucked back into work after-hours. Or worse, get sidetracked into channel surfing or snacking during the workday when you still have tasks to tackle. One of my favorite tricks for setting boundaries between work life and home life taps into the power of scent.

This practice had its beginnings back in college when my roommate let me borrow her Moschino Cheap & Chic I Love Love Eau de Toilette—an invigorating fragrance bursting with sparkly fresh citrus notes—because she said it helped with focus, and she was right. Since then, I've become very aware of how certain scents can affect mood and help with memory (you're supposed to study with the same perfume you wear during the exam). Fast forward to today, I use scents to structure my day and signal what it is that I should be giving my attention to. Here's the candle trick that keeps me focused and more productive.

For Work

candle on desk
 Dacy Knight

I haven't spritzed Moschino Cheap & Chic I Love Love since college, but I still have some favorite scents that keep me feeling invigorated and focused. Anya Hindmarch's entire Anya Smells scented candle line is basically an olfactory dream with clever scent profiles like "Pencil Shavings" and "Coffee," which I'd argue are strong contenders for inspiring productivity while working from home. Right now, I've been loving having a fresh minty fresh scent while I work, so I've been burning "Toothpaste" which boasts notes of spearmint, French peppermint, Australian grapefruit rind, and menthol, candy floss accord.

Anya Smells Toothpaste small scented candle
Anya Hindmarch Anya Smells Toothpaste Small Scented Candle $53

Just as it's important to create the right environment for work, it's important to create a distinct environment for leisure activities to signal it's time to unplug. For this reason, I make it a hard rule to only burn the Toothpaste-scented candle when I'm actively working.

For Leisure

chair with candle
Dacy Knight

When it comes time to close my laptop, I turn to completely different scents to evoke a different mood. Another wonder from Anya Hindmarch's Anya Smells collection, "Sun Lotion" which as the name suggests, smells exactly like sunscreen, meaning literal perfection for a weekend staycation when stuck at home. For reading, I've been turning to Anine Bing Savage Rose, Bulgarian rose mixed with white rose for an elegant bouquet that encourages relaxation without lulling me to sleep.

Anine Bing Savage Rose scented candle
Anine Bing Savage Rose Candle $49

For Grounding

For restorative activities like yoga and meditation, I've been burning Tom Dixon's Materialism Alloy Candle for its woody fragrance that is instantly calming and reminds me of the incense and sage they'd sometimes burn at my old yoga studio. Since I always bring it out along with my yoga mat, the scent now signals it's time to get into the mindset for yoga, even if I'm just on the floor of my living room.

Tom Dixon Alloy candle
Tom Dixon Materialism Alloy Candle Medium $130

Ending the workday can be tricky when working from home, because you never really leave "the office." This makes it especially important to commit to completely unplugging and trying to leave laptops out of places like the bedroom.

For Skincare and Bathing

bathtub with book
 Dacy Knight

When I'm completely done with the workday, a nighttime ritual that includes my skincare routine (and, on occasion, a hot bath) helps me get into a non-work mode and feel like I'm really home. For this, I go for a heavy, musky lavender-clary sage-coriander candle that feels super indulgent and helps me wind down.

The Harmonist Velvet Fire
The Harmonist Velvet Fire Candle $80

Turning to candles to structure my day not only brings a pleasant element to each activity, but it helps to instantly signal to my brain that it's time for work or yoga or sleep and keep each one distinct—even while all occur under the same roof.

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