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Tuesday
Jun142011

Refresher Course 

Working from home: that glorious, free-wheeling, vocational dream. However, if you're like me, you know discipline can get lost in all that flexibility.

After writing, and ignoring, some rules for home employment, I've decided to revisit this all too necessary subject. Here is a brief refresher course on Rules 1 & 2. 

 

As tempting as it may sound, wearing your sweats to work from home is a bad idea. They're cozy, they're comfortable - they will make you want to lay on the couch. Trust me. 

Productivity requires a little effort on your part. The most successful way to start your work day is to shower and put on real clothes. I'm talking no elastic waste-bands. But, this is the home office, so we can fudge on that occasionally. At the very least, ask yourself this question when getting ready: "could I answer the door in this?" 

That means: proper (unexposed) underwear, brushed hair and teeth, enough makeup to not scare the neighbors, no holes or stains, and bonus points for matching. You work from home, you're not a bum. I like to feel somewhat accomplished when I walk out to get the mail. If I have to change before I do that, I've made some wrong turns in my day. 

When setting up the ideal home office, audial ambiance is an important feature. Sitting in silence is not an option for me. I am not that focused nor comfortable with that much alone time. 

The most obvious choice is music - easy, accessible, able to meet a variety of needs. To perk myself up, it's the Beatles. To keep myself calm, it's Death Cab. This morning, it was Hall and Oates. You get the idea. But you're smart, you've already figured out music makes for a good co-worker. What else?

Depending on your task, audiobooks are a good choice. Now, you can't really pay attention to a complicated plot line while answering email. However, I find it a stimulating background while the other half of my brain is designing (or cleaning). The only bummer is having to pause anytime you mentally stopover in the left hemisphere. 

Finally, we can all agree that parking yourself in front of the television won't do much for your productivity. But I have to admit, TV can accompany your workday when used properly. In a technique I call "artificial companionship" I like to keep the TV on a very specific channel (usually the Food Network). The way my desk is positioned in the house, I can hear the TV, but not see it. I can't even crane my neck to sneak a peak. I keep the volume loud enough to make my apartment feel like a bustling office, but quiet enough that I can't catch all the ingredients going into that marinade.  

Warning, technique less effective when it's a hulu marathon of 30 Rock. 

 

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