SNOW DAYS – For many, it means working from home.  Great for avoiding hazardous roads, but when it comes to productivity, there are some built-in hazards you’ll have to negotiate.  Remember these three words to make your work-at-home days more successful.

WORD #1: Preparation –   Yes, follow the Boy Scout credo and be prepared

Snow Day in Ossining, Westchester NY by Susan Lasky

Snow Day in Ossining, Westchester NY by Susan Lasky

Always have a work-related contact list and critical info (passwords, etc.) at home – snow day or not.

  • If possible, sync your office computer with your phone and laptop or tablet.  Don’t depend on being able to access your office computer remotely; the internet may go down in bad weather.
  • As an extra precaution, print out the contact list and other critical information.  (Do this periodically.)  It is possible the electric may fail, especially in areas with snow-laden tree branches and exposed wires.  You may need the printout to make an emergency call or two. (Keep your cell phone charged and have a spare, charged power source in case it does – consider investing in a solar-powered charger.)

If you have advance warning of the snowstorm, give thought as to what you can work on at home that would be the most productive use of your time.

  • These may be tasks that will help you finish an important project you are working on now, or a project you’ve been meaning to get to that you haven’t had time for in the office, or it may be a good opportunity to do some planning, away from the urgency and interruptions of office life.
  • Gather any materials you’ll need to do the work from home.  Again, don’t count on being able to remotely access office computers, assuming your company even has that technology available for your use. (Take note, company execs – given this year’s weather, it may be time to review your policies on secure networks and remote access).

WORD #2: Expectation –  Be realistic, this is NOT another day at the office

There is a limit to what you will be able to accomplish – choose carefully – don’t promise (even yourself) more than you can reasonably deliver.

Realize that you WILL have distractions – house chores will call to you (especially if the work you plan on doing is less than fully engaging):  “Straighten up … clean … cook …  patch the hole in the wall …  organize the closet … ” PUT ON THE BLINDERS.  If you were at the office, you wouldn’t be tempted.

You will probably receive, or have to make, some personal phone calls.  This is not a day for chatting, although others who are stuck at home but not working may think it is.  Limit the calls, as you would at work, “Hi, how are you? I’m okay, but working… will call you back.”

Children – they are home as well, and DO need your attention.  Build in time to spend with them – you can’t work a full schedule unless they are older or you have in-home childcare.  Take an hour and go out sledding with the children.  You can be just as productive – even more productive – for having taken a play break.  Then don’t worry if you use the TV or a video to babysit part of the time.  Consider a project they can do nearby, while you do yours – have some ideas in advance (Preparation!).

WORD #3: Clarity – Know what to do, and when to stop

Be VERY specific in terms of what you will work on – the more focused you are, the more productive you’ll be in what could become a very distracting environment.  Begin the day with a clear and detailed written outline of what you have decided to accomplish.  This helps to maintain a focused work ethic at home (and gets you back on track after external or internal interruptions).

Create your own benchmark – have a goal that, when achieved, will make you feel you had a fulfilling stay-at-home workday.  Reach your benchmark and STOP WORKING.  Celebrate with a cup of hot chocolate, or maybe some tea, laced with rum and spices (I think they call that a hot toddy <g>).

Tagged: productivity, snow days, work from home

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