If your company has enlightened paternity or flex time policies (ahem), you may find yourself working from home now that there’s a small, helpless mini you occupying that home all day. If you find this to be liberating and productive, bully for you. If you have trouble focusing on work when you’re not, you know, at work, there are a few common sense techniques that can help you stay productive in your new office. Sadly, they include putting on pants.
Extremely important caveat: These tips only apply if you’ve got some baby care help around the house, whether that’s your spouse or otherwise. If it’s just you and the kid, you’re not working from home; you’re just home, being a dad. Which is ton of work, but not the kind where you get any work done. For your job. You get it.
READ MORE: The Fatherly Guide to Stay-At-Home Parenting
Set And Maintain Regular Hours: They can be vampire hours if you’re more productive during the reverse 9 (PM) to 5 (AM), when the kid is theoretically sleeping, but creating a routine is key to staying on task. It’ll still be more flexible than an in-office schedule, so lucky you.
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Dress For The Job You Want, Not The Bedroom Workplace You Have: Sorry, but this is where you put on those pants. Changing from pajamas into literally anything else helps separate work time from personal time, and you’ll definitely want to look the part for the odd videoconference. Plus, “Look good, feel good” is doubly true when the alternative is looking like an extra from “Thriller.”
Carve Out Dedicated Work Space: You’re finally getting the corner (of the bedroom) office of your dreams! If you don’t have the ideal spare bedroom or finished garage or basement, you can build a tidy little work station with just a chair, an outlet, a few drawers, and a flat surface … and then upgrade it with any of these.
Get Connected: Fast, reliable phone and internet service is key. Get the best you can afford and make everything wireless so you at least have the option of working in a different room from the screaming poop machine. That’d be your kid. You need a new nickname for your boss now.
Get The Hell Out Of There: Work somewhere besides your home once a day to break the monotony. Outside in the sunshine ideally, or at a coffee shop if you can stand the distraction of all the other “home office” workers who secretly live there.
Check In With HQ: The irony of working from home is that it requires you to be in constant contact, lest your company completely forget about you. “Didn’t someone else used to sit here? Screw it. Lunch!” Fortunately, modern communication makes it easy to always be on — and keep your kids that way, which they totally won’t resent at all.
No Midday Chores: Now you have a reason to never help clean up: too busy working! To avoid temptation, Portland, Oregon-based life coach Pace Smith creates a virtual office. “I say out loud, ‘I’m starting my workday now,’ and it’s as if I’ve left the house and gone to a physical office. I come home for lunch and then leave again. When I’m done working for the day, I say, ‘I’m done with my workday.'” Go ahead, laugh it up. When the baby babbles to no one in particular it’s sooooo adorable, right?
Keep Up Appearances: Face time with the team is important for relationship building and easing the festering resentment among your cubicle-trapped coworkers. Plus, you need the excuse to get out of the office, er, house and grab a beer.