WFH Tip: A Good Day Off

Today is my day off for the week.

Unlike many people being at home all the time is normal for me. I’m used to it. Over the years I’ve learned techniques and patterns that make this life work well.

How many years you ask?

Thirteen years.

In the Spring of 2007 I stepped out of my cubicle at the small aerospace engineering office that no longer employed me, and have not been back to a “place of work” since. I also haven’t had a boss since then (other than myself).

Over the years I have assembled many little tips and tricks to get through the day. With 94 blog posts left to write I’ll get around to most of them.

One Day Off Every Seven

One day out of every seven has to be a full day off. If I don’t take a true day off regularly my fatigue grows and my mood drops as the days blend into each-other. Inevitably my productivity becomes worse than if I actually stopped working.

Yesterday I failed to accomplish all the work hours I set out to do for the week. Working at home with a baby doesn’t always work out the way you want. Despite that, it is more important to take today fully off than to meet my work goals.

“Why didn’t you do a bit of work in the morning and then take your day off?” you might ask. Nope. That’s not how it works. During a “day off” you must…

Do No Work At All

A day off has to be completely free of work, from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep.

Ignore emails and everything else. Try not to think about it. Unless your servers are on fire, just ignore it.

Do Nothing At All

During the day off it’s important to have time to just lounge and feel like you’re doing nothing, and be OK with that.

During a work day from home, the pressure to get things done and the energy it takes to self-motivate can be draining.

That’s why you have to have moments where you deliberately do nothing, or nothing of any value. Be fully aware of your state of unproductivity, and bask in it. It’s a good thing.

I made the mistake in the past of doing something elaborate on a “day off”, like going on a day trip, or going sailing. These are tricky. It can feel very nice, but if you have to rush, or work hard planning and organizing it’s best to plan another real day off soon after.

Do Some Chores

Yes I know I said “day off” and “do nothing”, but here’s the thing. On typical work days, there is little time to do things around the house that need doing.

These end up weighing on your mind, and can distract while you’re trying to work.

Doing something useful can help you feel good about yourself. It’s the flip side of doing nothing: you’ll feel good for taking something off your to-do list.

A good day off is a careful balance of doing absolutely nothing part of the time, and checking some chores off your list.

Avoid Side Projects

If you have side-projects, only work on the ones that are distant enough from actual work. I avoid all forms of code.

I almost skipped writing my daily blog post for #100DaysToOffload (my 6th) but I think writing is relaxing enough, and I’m not writing about code.

However, I’ll keep it short.

Get More Done Next Week

Take a day off, a real one, regularly. Take two if you can. Enjoy doing nothing, and you’ll do more next week.

Olivier Forget

Los Angeles, USA
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Aerospace Engineer turned sofware developer and bootstrappin' entrepreneur.