When your alarm went off this morning, you looked outside. The white stuff you see out there isn’t the sandy beach you were dreaming about last night. In fact, it’s a cruel reminder that it’s still winter despite what the groundhog said. You work for a good company that cares about employee safety. Even though they know you can drive through the winter wonderland, they are aware that other drivers are your biggest danger. You are given the all-clear to work from home.
There’s still work to be done and you want to make the most effective use of your time. Here’s a list of 10 suggestions for your snow day productivity, in no particular order.
- Keep the meeting on your calendar, but convert it to a Zoom meeting. Zoom is an excellent online meeting and collaboration tool. We love it for face-to-face virtual meetings, training sessions, webinars, etc. It has a powerful feature-set that includes recordings, breakout rooms, desktop sharing, etc. It’s our favorite online meeting tool.
- Embrace the distraction-free environment to facilitate creative thinking. Today’s open-concept offices can be distracting places that can actually impede the ability to think critically and creatively. Repeated distractions can prevent higher-order thinking. Lock yourself away from the distractions and spend at least an hour (more if possible) away from all the distractions, focused on a critical task and exploring creative solutions.
- Bring your kids to work-from-home day. There are few things more fulfilling than doing things together with your children. Whether it’s a simple report, a status update, or even if you’re writing code, make the kids part of it. Teach the some simple lesson. Speak positively about your boss and your employer. Your job is a big part of your life, but your kids are a bigger part. Remind them how important they are by allowing them into your work life.
- Send a quick email of appreciation to your management. You got to work from home. They care about your safety. Take a few moments to express gratitude. It goes a long way – managers are often consumed with dealing with complaints, personnel issues, trying to increase performance, etc. They don’t hear the “Thank you” as often as they should.
- List out your priorities. Making a clear and visible list of priorities does several key things. First, it keeps you on track. You can check against the list as you go and record updates. If anyone asks what you accomplished, you can quickly point to your list. Second, it allows you the opportunity to validate that list against your management’s priorities. “Hey boss – this is what I’m working on today. Does this line up with your priorities?”
- Have lunch with your spouse. You work through lunch all the time. But how often do you sit down with your spouse during the work day and really get to connect. Talk about what you’ve accomplished so far. Talk about what you’re trying to finish before the day ends. Share a sandwich and some chips. Spend a minute or two talking about your shared goals. Avoid complaining. End lunch with a smile and make sure you thank each other for the time you got to spend together.
- Spend 15 minutes in a virtual stand-up with your coworkers. Working from home can reduce the collaboration time with your coworkers. This is great for reducing distractions but can also leave you missing some important information. Stand-up meetings are a great way to touch base on key items without consuming your entire workday. Again, using a tool like Zoom is fantastic to facilitate this. Remember, no more than 15 minutes. You really should be able to stand up the whole time.
- Read an article relevant to emerging trends in your industry. We spend so much time doing the day-to-day work that we can easily miss the emerging trends. There are better ways to do things. Spending a few minutes in your day searching for something new or creative could result in fundamental shifts in how you approach things in the future.
- Set periodic checkpoints for reviewing your email. If you are checking your email every few minutes, it’s distracting you from other work. Many organizations are starting to recognize how this can impact performance. Be proactive and set an acceptable period for email review – maybe it’s once an hour or every two hours. But avoid staying in your inbox all day.
- Go outside with your family and enjoy the snow. Yes, downtime is really important for productivity. Whether at lunch, on a break, or after work, enjoy the snow day with the ones you love most. After all, you are working for them. And if you are supposed to get off at 5, maybe you really should.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments on how you make your snow days your most productive work days. And if you are in the right industry, check out our ITIL training, root-cause analysis training, or our DevOps simulations.