The world is becoming more and more integrated, so too are our environments. Working from home isn't an old concept thanks to the information age and the advancements in technology. But prior to recent times, working from home was something of a convenience
Today, at least for a time, it's a requirement for many. That doesn't mean it has to be difficult, the technique holds many advantages and it shouldn't be discounted without a solid attempt!
Here, we'll offer a 'how-to' approach on the topic, because doing this right commands effort and it's all about how you create the workplace in your 'Home! Sweet Home!'
As 'sweet' as a home can be, the concept of 'home' might just be the deep-routed issue when it comes to doing your work
We think of home and immediately associate it with relaxing, because of this, you can understand the incompatibility with getting stuff done
So what we need to do is separate our home into sections. Broadley as one for work, and one for play
If you look at the picture above, this might be what you think is the ideal setup, but it's riddled with issues right off the bat
He's surrounded by distractions entirely because of the environment he's placed his work station in
The kitchen is a communal area where other people ( and pets! ) would hang out. Not to mention the temptation of sugary treats to comfort you should you enter the weary realm of procrastination - this just won't do, classify this along with any other 'similar sounding' scenario, as a play area!
Now, let's break this down further
This is going to have to be a 'work area', sounds boring, but it can have vibrance while simultaneously keeping you productive
If you're lucky enough to have a home office, you might have a few steps covered already. If you don't, we'll need to figure out what kind of environment is right for you - because it's pretty much different for everyone
Typically though, the bedroom isn't suitable, same for the kitchen. Too many temptations to chill or become distracted
The living room, 'some' bedrooms, offices, lounges and house extensions can be decent places for your work setup. The main aim here is that you separate it from your relaxing areas or any other 'type' of area
Associate your chosen location as just the location for work. The trick here is to divide your home into 'modules' of different and definitive purposes
The main rule from this section is that you must do a specific type of activity in the correct area, no sleeping, dumbbell curls or Netflix binging at the work desk for example
So long as we maintain this rule along and a mindset of one room doesn't sneakily follow you into another, there's a good chance of this technique to succeed
Anyhow, that's step one for this technique - divide, the next step - conquer!
This concept is a personal favourite of mine, it's the desk setup
The idea here is to be the ultimate hub of productivity and creative flow, discipline gets you started but once the motivation kicks in you'll enjoy the grind of work and feel a proud sense of purpose
But this is where a common mistake lies. Soon after the pandemic lead to the need for lockdowns, a clear division of those who loved working from home, and those who just 'couldn't work at a home' was established
I noticed something when I probed a little deeper into those who didn't find working from home resourceful, I recognised that they would say something along the lines of:
'My laptop overheats on my bed '
'My children were playing right in front of me all day'
'My laptop only just fits on my bedroom drawer'
'I just end up watching TV'
This tells us that those people haven't put in the initial work to create the environment followed by the setup. They haven't given the technique a solid try which is what's required for success
The desk setup will differ depending upon your work, only have what you require and whatever else makes things easier to 'flow'
Having a dual monitor or second computer is great too, but use them with purpose - as with everything else on the desk, if you do not need it, get rid!
If you want to have Netflix or music in the background, then that's fine, but it must be in the background - the work has to remain in the forefront or you risk merging the relax area into the work area and... thou shalt not do such a thing
Same story for plants, supplies and nourishment! These are the bells and whistles to your main task of being productive
Make sure you have everything you need in front of you and no real need ( other than going to the toilet ) to leave the desk for the entirety of the time allocated to work
With all that achieved you're about ready to get started. If you need anything else to 'complete the setup' then ask yourself whether it's necessary, then bring it all together
If you foresee a need to start working from home in the near future and don't have a setup like above, now's the chance to create a shopping list and get everything ready to go
Below is a bit of a 'starter kit' to check out and inspire a few ideas, not all that expensive! Amazon is great for pricing, quick deliveries and fantastic customer service
That's the work portion pretty much done, this, of course, is the most important because it's the only one that directly results in the output you need
However, the other zones mentioned above are crucial to sustainable success over time but only if you use them proportionally and in harmony with one another
We'll cover those in mo, but remember, the work environment is the keystone!
While on the Clock
Imagine this, you've got a badass setup and the perfect environment for your 'work zone'
The time has come to get stuck in and pursue the ‘actual‘ work part. I wish this were a 'sit down and go' type thing
For many though, it requires a number of techniques to get it going.. and keep it going
The action of listing does a few things, it allows you to enter a creative headspace right at the start and peek into the future!
List everything you want to get done just for this work session, try not to include things that need to be done at times in the future, this might deviate your concentration
In terms of ordering them, this can be how you want. But I'd recommend starting with easy tasks and tackling them first - these are ones that don't take long and you know how to do pretty much immediately
By completing these, you'll be able to tick them off and feel that sense of purpose early on. These 'feelings' will then propel you forward!
Two good apps we recommend for 'to do' lists and reminders are the Microsoft To-Do app ( you'll find this preinstalled as an app on Windows 10 )
And Notion, available on all IOS/Android, Windows or Mac
You could also do away with the software and rely on the old fashioned pen and paper!
For some, this is the preferred method by far. It gives a unique sense of achievement as you cross through each task until everything is done
If this is your kind of sauce, we've found a few books that can house all of your 'yet to do's'
In summary, start easy and work up to the harder/longer tasks
Tick off as you go, feel accomplished and earn your right to relax and chill later - you'll feel all the better for it!
Just do It
In lieu of sounding like Shia Labeouf or some kind of Nike advert, you've just got to do it
You have a list filled, yet unticked - it's now time to start ticking
Starting is always the hardest thing, with many things. But the moment you start you've accomplished the biggest step
There's a harmful lie about motivation, and it's that you need to wait for it to hit you before you can begin anything
Motivation isn't something you have at the beginning and then use it to complete a task, motivation is produced from the action of starting
It's secondary to commitment and discipline, be disciplined enough to begin no matter the way you feel and the way you feel will go from whatever it was..to motivated!
So, pick a time and no matter how you feel.. do..the thing!
Thus far, we've talked about the work portion - because it's the most important, but it's not the only thing to care about unless you're some kind of robot
If you are human, and that is what I'm assuming, you rely on a collection of other factors to keep your work going
Kind of like seasons, they all depend on each other for a single one of them to exist
Above, we divided the home into the four sections, you don't have to divide it exactly like this but it helps to get across what we mean by having different areas for different activities
Setting Work aside a moment - Sleep, Relax and Exercise are all crucial too
Although crucial, we've given more emphasis on the work side of things while the others get an in-depth enough mention
Let's say you've been working a lot today, you perform an emotional inventory on yourself and feel a little bit burnt out - but accomplished!
You need to decide whether you're in a good routine at the moment or whether you're not being as productive as you could be, and are just pushing yourself through something
The important point here is that you be decisive
If you're doing well and feel that fascinating 'work' rhythm... keep on vibing, do more!
Alternatively, if you legitimately feel like you want to stop, decide now whether it's a temporary thing or whether that's it for the day
What we're saying is, your setting yourself up to enter either the Relax, Exercise or Sleep 'pod'
Whichever of these rooms you go in to, make sure you do the correct activity per room
If you are too tired, take a nap or sleep for however long you need ( in the sleep pod! ). If you're bouncing off the walls because of too much coffee - hit your 'home gym' pod!
After your break, in whichever form it takes, maybe begin with the exercise pod to get your mind working again and then get back to your studies/work in the correct room!
Now we're all stuck at home, pretty much against our will..kind of
We are more isolated than the typical 9-5 day, meaning.. our social life now requires us to put in more effort to keep it going
It's fortunate that technology makes this effort easier, but even then it's still 'more' than before. Some people could really struggle with this part of working from home
Although your home has temporarily become your place of work, it for now.. can't become your social hub - at least in person!
While you're using your exercise or relax areas, maybe try talking to others who are in a similar scenario to you, even think of those who are stuck at home but aren't in work like those retired or not in school
Talking to these people is perhaps even more important because they don't have the 'grind' to keep them occupied, they may feel even more isolated than yourself - give them a thought if you feel you can make a difference
As I say though, it's easy to stay in touch these days if you're tech-savvy. But if not, reach out to get help on how to get it all going, online help is abundant but remember your friends/family could help too
The importance of a social connection is to remind you that this is temporary and other people are feeling the effects of this too
You all can get through it and you all will, certainly if you bare it together
Mental health and wellbeing are the 'unspoken' impacts of a scenario like this, fortunately, they are being talked about a lot more and recognised by governments and workplaces
If for you, these aren't in good working order, none of the pods talked about above can work as they should. Do whatever you need to do to keep your thoughts positive and hopeful - again, this is temporary
For some, going outside and meeting up isn't actually restricted - if this is you, take advantage and remind your body what nature feels like. Meet up with friends and family ( safely of course and in line with your restriction advice )
This is an important concept, it must be used correctly!
To keep you going long term, a rewarding dynamic can help. These rewards aren't just using the 'relax pod' after being successful in your 'work pod'
This could mean buying yourself something or planning something in the future to look forward to, either way, find something that gives you that feeling of attraction to it
Amazon and other online stores are doing pretty well in these times, as they would I suppose
Take advantage! Look around and get some of the deals that could improve your home and all environments you now exist in
If there are many people to your household, work together to figure out a reward mechanism for you all, collectively, you could think of something great!
The Write-off Principle
This might resonate with the majority of readers
Take one of the days where you intended to begin work with all the energy you have but for some reason, you can't commit to your work fully
Many will say, keep trying or even have a break and then come back to it, but this comes back to the idea of being decisive
The intention of the write-off principle is to stop you from falling into a trap that can wear you down and burn you out for an extended period of time
If you're often in the realm of procrastination, take a moment to think about how much time you spend 'thinking' about doing something compared to the time you actually spend 'doing' something
Because you could end up in a relaxing environment, yet your mind is thinking about work - as a result, you are never relaxed when you should be and when you try to start your work, it's impossible! This is due to one of your 'four pods' not working, and the issue propagates to another pod
So there will come times where you cant get the ball rolling, at this moment I invite you to be aware enough to consider the idea of treating the day as a 'write-off' and doing whatever you want instead
The idea here is that if you write-off the day and allow your mind to be relaxed while in a relaxing environment, you should be able to make full use of the correct mindset in the correct area or 'pod'
When you come back to work, you've 'had' a good amount of relax time and can now successfully swap it out for a working mindset
Alternatively, if you push yourself down the 'i'll start in 5 minutes route' while you play games or watch TV etc, your mind is thinking about work and it's more than likely you can become exhausted. Then when it comes to working.. become more exhausted - this isn't a resourceful way forward
Become vigilant in recognising the days that are effectively nonrecoverable and strike them off, you've not lost the work-time you're just moving it to a time in the future - but you're not thinking about that time, you're in the moment of the 'not doing work' for now
Sounds counter-intuitive, but to have real and true days 'on' you must have real and true days 'off', these days off can not be spent thinking about the tasks that make up the bulk of your 'on' days. Be in the moment of each environment!
Even though in some of these sections we've branched away from work, they are all interconnected to the main function of getting things done
Although we're putting a lot of effort into improving our own environment and associated habits, the ultimate 'extra credit' achievement is to share it with others
Now, apart from this being a nice thing in general, there's a hidden benefit that could really thrive from sharing your success with everyone
If you're able to communicate your own techniques with others, they can communicate their techniques with you.. within this big pot of ideas, everyone can take what they see as useful and implement it - but this isn't the benefit I refer to!
If you are a fan of the working from home principle, and for whatever reason/s you see future benefits - whether that be the flexibility, time at home, no more commuting or saving money
By sharing your success with others and allowing them to be successful, you're providing your employer with a significant bit of 'data'
It's that when even out of the 'normal' work environment, you and your team can still produce output as good as, or maybe even greater than before
What this might lead to is a more flexible arrangement with your employer, this is likely to be at the discretion of your 'line manager' but so long as you get the output done... you have a great chance to fight the point of working from home
When the world does get back up and brushes itself off into a normal 'pattern' again, perhaps you only do 2 days 'in' a week and 3 days at home, but the output is the same as 5 days 'in' week
So although the use of lockdowns have been convenient for many, there may be a few silver linings that can be shown and continued after lockdowns are no longer needed
There may be benefits to your employer too, it's a win-win!
And there we have it - like I say it doesn't need to be difficult!
It might actually be enjoyable after a period of time, I suppose the most interesting part will be when you get back to work and you're able to perform a 'was this better or was that better' exercise against your home set up
Either way, the opportunities are there to get working from home in your good books. Of course, there are more opportunities too, not just related to work, but that's for another post perhaps!
Stay connected, productive and positive!
Thanks for reading