My perfect office at home
Since Covid has taken over the world, everyone is at home more. As a technology enthusiast, I was anyway, but now I have to do more work from home. This led me to set up my table at home to get my work done and continue to be productive on my side projects. I record here the experiences that have helped me increase my productivity in my professional and personal life.
Dedicated Space and Devices
So what exactly does this mean? Basically very simple: separate work and personal at every level.
I have a laptop and cell phone provided by my work, but use my desk for work and side projects. I do the separation with the devices. For work, I use my old keyboard and mouse. Then as soon as I start working, I plug everything in and turn my table into my workstation. As soon as I'm done working, everything gets locked up and tidied away again. This way I get a clear cut in my head that I am done with work.
Lots of sunlight in the room is good for concentration, so a bright room is recommended. I leave the window open here as much as I can. Same with the door, just to let in as much light as possible. Basically, you use light mode for your home office.
Another tip I received is to put a plant on the table or room. But because I don't have a very green thumb, the choice was a cactus. So far, it's doing well, too, and it's making the room more cheerful.
To keep distractions to a minimum I have applied a few little hacks. The biggest distractor for me, and probably for almost everyone, is the smartphone. With every little peep, I get the urge to pick it up and see what's new. So that this no longer happens, I have my smartphone on silent now. No more peeps, unless I want it to peep.
The smartphone for work should ring quietly when a call comes in, but my private one is silent 24/7. So I keep control over when I pick it up to see what's new on Twitter.
Another problem for me at the time was also the browser. In a new tab, the most visited pages are displayed, which are often pages for distraction. Meanwhile, I have this under control, but what helped me back then were plugins. For example, for Chrome, there is the plugin Stay Focused. For Firefox I can recommend Forest. With the help of this plugin, you can block your time wasters and fully concentrate on your task.
In the beginning, I used to-do lists. They have their justification, but in the long run, there are just too many items and I lose the overview and the motivation to do any task at all.
My favourite tool for organizing is now a calendar. With the help of a calendar, I can organize myself in much more detail, because I have to think beforehand about the duration and when I want to do the task.
For this I have already written an article that goes into more detail: Why i stopped using todo-lists.
This is actually very simple. Remove everything from your desk that you don't use. It doesn't have to look super clean, like for Instagram, but old documents, cups, pens, etc. that can be put away should also go.
Your desk should support you, not overwhelm you by pushing everything aside just to get started.
My rule is this: If I don't need it for today, I clear it off the desk.
(Decoration and plants excluded)
Breaks are a very important tool to stay productive. I can work productively for 2-3 hours, but at the latest a small break is necessary. Otherwise, if I don't take a break, I notice pretty quickly that my results get worse because my brain gets too mushy.
I have tried some methods that include a break in the process. The one that has worked very well for me is the Pomodoro technique.
The original technique has six steps:
- Decide on the task to be done.
- Set the Pomodoro timer (typically for 25 minutes).
- Work on the task.
- End work when the timer rings and take a short break (typically 5–10 minutes).
- If you have fewer than three pomodoros, go back to Step 2 and repeat until you go through all three pomodoros.
- After three pomodoros are done, take the fourth Pomodoro and take a long break (traditionally 20 to 30 minutes). Once the long break is finished, return to step 2.
Pomodoro Technique - Wikipedia
Of course, this doesn't work for all tasks, because sometimes there are tasks that need longer attention. To be honest, I rarely use the Pomodoro technique anymore because I already use the calendar to schedule my tasks and do nothing else in the meantime. Then as soon as the task is finished or my time is up, I take a break for some minutes, depending on how long I've worked. Typically it is 5 minutes for every 30 minutes of work.
Feel free to try both and tell me on Twitter what works better for you or if you have another tip for me.
Creating a productive environment at home is not particularly difficult. It just takes some planning and discipline to stick with it. I hope my experiences could help you to create a better workspace at home that will really help you to be more productive.
If you have any suggestions for me, feel free to write to me on Twitter.