Your alarm goes off at 6am on the dot. You yawn, glance out the window to see a snow globe has exploded outside your house. Roll over and grab your phone, with visions of warm flannel sheets dancing through your head.
Check your email and… víola!
The office is closed. It’s a snow day.
When you were in school, that meant responsibility was put on hold and you needn’t have a care in the world. Now, you’re faced with the prospect of working from home and somehow still making 8 hours of productivity happen.
That’s why we pulled together these snow day productivity tips from the jolliest of sources. Have at ‘em:
Perfect Your Setup Ahead of Time
If you live in one of the numerous snow capitals of the country, anticipate a few snow days each year and plan ahead. Make sure your work from home setup has everything you need to get work done — a comfortable chair, extra computer monitors, your trusty space heater… anything you need to be productive should be ready to go before the first flake finds the ground.
Make Everything Accessible
Most workdays run on the cloud these days. If you’re one of the holdouts, find a solution that makes everything you need — from files and notes to contact info and communication tools — just as accessible from home as it is from the office. Store files in a solution like Google Drive and turn to Evernote to ensure accessibility for your notes (you can even find paper notebooks that can upload your handwriting into Evernote).
When your office is closed, that probably means your partner and the kids are at home, too. Before your start your day, set clear expectations for everyone. Explain that, yes, you’re at home, but you’re also “at work.” Establish boundaries around work time and interruptions. That way, you’ll have plenty of free time and space to actually get something done.
Stick to Your Schedule
The novelty of a snow day is alluring — it can make sleeping in and hourly hot cocoa breaks sound reasonable. To help your brain maintain the work mindset, keep to your normal schedule as best you can. If you typically start work at 7am and end early, do that. If you break for lunch later in the day, do that, too.
Another tip: don’t get up and immediately begin work. You usually have a commute, right? Give your brain as much wake-up time as it’s used to before you make it to the office.
Write Out a To-Do List
A to-do list is concrete. Write them out, and tasks become organized, manageable, and non-negotiable. When you work from home, you sometimes have to rule with an iron fist. Set down a list of tasks you must complete today. If it takes until 9pm, so be it — if you finish by 3, reward yourself with a celebratory egg nog. Either way, you’ll cross those items off the list.
Take Advantage of the Solitude
In hectic, open-plan office, silence and solitude are two of the hardest things to come by. And no matter your working style, there are some projects best tackled with a big chunk of uninterrupted focus. Use the calm and quiet of your home office to your advantage, and take on those tasks today. You’ll get more done and be all the more relaxed for it.
Don’t Forget Breaks
Speaking of the office, coworkers and cubicles come with their own, built-in timer -- and those breaks (while annoying at times) actually help your productivity. They give your mind a brief reprieve, readying it to dive back into the task at hand with new vigor.
When you’re at home, it’s easy to sit stationary, staring at the laptop for long, uninterrupted periods. So you have to be deliberate about taking breaks. Make a point of walking away from the computer for a full hour at lunch. Get some exercise to refocus by taking a 15-minute shovel break in the afternoon.
Allow For a Little Wintertime Wonder
At the end of the day, it’s okay to let a snow day throw off your groove… a little. Get some work out of the way in the morning and ride that productivity buzz into the evening.
Budget in some time to build a snowman with the kids or marvel at the cold, little puffballs over a hot cup of peppermint-flavored Joe. After all, you don’t get a snow day every day!