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Working from Home, Part 2

April 02, 2020 10:08 AM Comment(s) By Amy

We're in this for the long haul

It seems clear that we'll all be at home for a while now, so it's time to really get to work. By now you've figured out that you need a dedicated work space, which isn't the couch. Full disclosure, I'm typing this blog from my couch - more on that later. But back to that dedicated work space - make sure you have one. The key word here is dedicated. If you're using the dining room table, your work needs to be put away for dinner and you'll have to set up again every morning, which is a waste of time. If you have kids, the same goes for them. Until last month, my kids did their homework at the dining room table. It was always mildly annoying, but not enough to do anything about it. But in early March, we bought a couple of inexpensive plastic tables that fold up and slide away when you don't need them, "just in case". Now the kids have those tables in their respective rooms, and all their school work and supplies are right their at their fingertips for their digital learning days. Everyone wins when they have their own space to work. Make sure you have your own space too.

So why am I typing on the couch right now? First, I only have a single, small task I want to accomplish - typing this blog. I've been trying to get to it for almost a week now, and it keeps falling by the wayside. That's because for me, when I sit at my desk, it's hard-core work mode. I get deeply involved in databases and code and development, oh my. "Lighter work" tends to get pushed off, so sometimes I mix things up a little to get more done. Which leads me to my second work from home tip - figure out what makes you productive so you can replicate it. Do you need background music on, is the room temperature comfortable, do you prefer natural light, etc. Observe everything around you, and when you discover what works best for you, stick with it.

Daily productivity isn't just dictated by your external environment either. Back in the day, I had a Franklin Planner that I used religiously. My tools have changed since then, but the idea behind them is still the same - plan your day. Take a few minutes when you start your day reviewing what's on your list. Pick the critical few tasks and focus on those. Do this EVERY DAY. I like to do it even on non-work days, if only for the joy of crossing things off the list when they get done. The point is, have a plan. Even if the plan changes, which is sometimes will, you've at least thought about the bigger picture, and can adjust accordingly.

My final tip for you before I get off my couch is headphones. Unless you live alone, get a pair of headphones. I actually have two pairs. The first one is from Home Depot. You know those heavy duty, full ear covering, ugly things that the guys in the auto repair shops use to protect their ears from loud machinery? I've got those. When I need to block out the world and really concentrate on something, those are my go-to headphones. They block out so much sound I can hear my own breathing, and they were only about $10. My other headphones are a comfortable, cordless, noise cancelling set that I can use for phone calls or listening to videos or music. No one else in the house has to listen to whatever I'm doing, and I don't have to listen to them either. More winning for everyone!  Once upon a time they were great for airline travel too... 

Until next time, stay home, stay safe, and wash your hands.