When done right, a work-from-home day can be both wildly productive and personally restorative. Eliminate the minutes it takes you to commute to and from the office, as well as the time lost to workplace distractions, and suddenly you have loads more time for both work and personal tasks.
Be warned, ninja: the lack of supervision and disrupted routine can be detrimental if you’re not prepared. Some ninjas have been known to lose whole hours to daytime TV and YouTube rabbit holes (not to mention Netflix binges).
If you’re lucky enough to work for a company that allows for a flexible work schedule, use the following tips to maximize your precious work-from-home days.
Email Yourself Copies of Vital Docs
The cloud, shared drives and VPN are all well and good… when they work. But, you may find that, when using a different device or connection, you don’t have the required permissions to access what you need. Avoid losing time to the help desk queue by emailing yourself copies of must-have folders and documents the night before.
Organize Your At-Home Workspace
This is also a great activity for the night before a work-from-home day. Prepare your workspace so that it’s ready for you first thing in the morning. Make sure it’s neat, orderly, dust-free and out of the sight-line of potential chores (e.g. a sink full of dishes or the laundry pile). Otherwise, you may find yourself compelled to spend too much of your work time tidying.
Take a Shower
But doesn’t that defeat the whole point of working from home? Sure, it’s great to be comfortable, but a shower and other morning routines send signals to your brain and body that it’s time to wake up and get to work. While it’s tempting to spend the day in your pajamas, you’ll be much more productive if you take a shower and put on something other than sleepwear (don’t worry, it can still be more comfortable than your regular office-wear).
Keep a Schedule
Talk to anyone who exclusively works from home and they’ll likely tell you that separating their personal life from work is one of the biggest challenges. Most people achieve balance by setting a firm schedule and sticking to it. To prevent a day of working at home from creeping into your personal time, set an alarm the same way you would on a normal day—don’t allow yourself to sleep more than 15 or 20 minutes longer than normal. This will ensure that you don’t end up working later than usual to make up for a slower morning. And, if you’re having trouble managing your time out of the office, try making “appointments” with yourself for specific tasks using Google Calendar or Outlook.
Multi-Task Personal Errands
While your top priority is work, that doesn’t mean you can’t use your breaks to finish a few personal to-dos. Tasks that require passive monitoring vs. active participation are perfect for work-from-home days. Schedule deliveries, set the slow cooker or throw in a load or two of laundry while you work.
Take Your Lunch Break, Gosh Darn It
As long as you’re putting in a full day’s work, you’re absolutely entitled to your normal lunch break. So, don’t just sit on the couch—make the most of it! Take a long walk, have lunch in a different neighborhood, or attend a mid-afternoon class at the gym. Use the opportunity to shake up your schedule and do something nice for yourself.
Remember, ninja, the key to a successful work-from-home day is balance. With a little planning, it’s entirely possible to be productive and enjoy your time out of the office.
What are your favorite tips for effectively working from home?