On paper, work-from-home-days seem like a dream. And in many ways, they are! Not having to get dressed or even brush your hair, responding to emails with your dog sleeping next to you – these are all things that bring a sense of peace to what may be a hectic workday.
But work-from-home days can be a bit of a bust if you don’t know how to keep yourself in check. As someone with an attention-hungry cat and a Netflix account, I knew I needed to figure out how best to use this new privilege to my advantage.
Work-from-home days are increasingly popular among the 8-5 crowd; fancy laptops, powerful internet connection, and work-friendly chat apps such as Slack have made it increasingly easy for dependable employees to get their work done from the comfort of their own home. They’re pretty amazing and definitely not something to be taken for granted. So, if you work for a place awesome enough to grant work-from-home days, you owe it to that company to get your work done and do it right.
As such, I’ve put together a list of tips and tricks on how to have a productive work-from-home day. First things first:
1. The Night Before:
Plan breaks and meals, then decide where and how you’re going to set up your work environment. You’ll also want to set boundaries with any family members who may be home the same day you are. More on these later, but it’s important to have a game plan in place before you go to sleep. Otherwise, you might roll out of bed and start the day off with some terrible habits that make you unproductive.
2. Treat yourself to a good breakfast:
If you’re like me, you’re terrible at eating breakfast before heading into the office. It takes me about 60 minutes to get-up, get dressed, and drive to work on time. Breakfast isn’t even in my morning routine. Yes, I know, it’s not a good practice – I’m working on it! But that’s why work-from-home days are especially great for me. Those 60 minutes that are usually reserved for appearing human and heading into work are now mine to cook a quick breakfast. Here’s a nifty list of super-speedy breakfasts, but my favorite is toast with a fried egg, half an avocado, and hot sauce. You’re welcome.
3. Set up Base Camp:
Find a place to set-up your at-home “desk.” I strongly advise against your bed as that may make you drowsy. If you have a kitchen table/counter or even some comfortable bench in your backyard, these are great locations for your base camp. After that, bring over everything you’ll need for a productive day: coffee/tea, snacks, fresh water, glasses, work-related papers, etc. Whatever you need, make sure it’s within grabbing distance from your workspace before getting into it.
4. Set the Mood:
You know best what environment helps you through a busy day. Dead silence, quiet music, tv reruns playing in the background? This one’s on you, kid. I personally go for quiet music or a TV show/movie I’ve seen a million times before. The golden rule is – if you find it distracting, change it, like now.
5. The Fam:
If you have a spouse and/or children who will be home with you on your work-from-home day, take time the night before to set up boundaries. You may be home all day and that’s super cool, but you’re still working – Sorry, kiddo, I can’t do “Finding Dory” right now. Maybe later. Obviously, you’re not going to straight-up ignore them, but they have to respect your work. If nothing else, tell them you’re making money for the family, and if they keep distracting you, the less you’ll be able to buy pizza for dinner. This works for children & adults alike.
6. Fur Babies:
Pets can be awesome work buddies. A chill cat or dog can keep you good company without distracting you. However, if you have an excitable puppy or particularly verbal parrot, you may have to do a bit of adjusting. If dog-walking is something you need to do on your workday, plan it around your breaks the night before (refer to step 1). If that’s not something you can do, it’s a good idea to invest in some sort of time-consuming treat. One of those bones full of cheese-flavored goodies in the middle or something. In the event you have family with you, share the pet responsibilities.
7. Take breaks:
Remember what I said in #1 about planning breaks? Well, I meant it. A workday is still a workday, and you need to take some time for yourself. Just like breaks in the office, it’s best to get up, move around, and change your environment! It resets your brain and no I am not making this up. Take a walk around your block, play a few rounds of fetch with your pup, jump-scare your spouse; whatever works.
8. Reflect & Report:
At the end of the day, you want to look back at the work you did and compare it to an average workday at the office. You’re going to get 1 of 3 results; either you did better (yay!), or the same (sure!), or you struggled a bit. And that’s ok! That’s what this reflect & report is meant for, so you can look back and figure out where you stumbled and revamp your plan for next time.
So there you have it! A handy list of tips and tricks on how to jump on that work-from-home day and make it your own. If you have work-from-home days available to you, I highly recommend you try them out. You learn quite a bit about yourself when you have to be your own boss, and maybe you’ll even learn some new tricks of your own.
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