Let me begin with a blog post written by Seth Godin on 16th of June 2010 which later appeared in his book Whatcha Gonna Do with That Duck?: And Other Provocations, a compilation of his blog posts from 2006 to 2012.
Goodbye to the office
Factories used to be arranged in a straight line. That’s because there was one steam engine, and it turned a shaft. All the machines were set up along the shaft, with a belt giving each of them power. The office needed to be right next to this building, so management could monitor what was going on.
150 years later, why go to work in an office/plant/factory?
1. That’s where the machines are.
2. That’s where the items I need to work on are.
3. The boss needs to keep tabs on my productivity.
4. There are important meetings to go to.
5. It’s a source of energy.
6. The people I collaborate with all day are there.
7. I need someplace to go.
1. If you have a laptop, you probably have the machine already, in your house.
2. If you do work with a keyboard and a mouse, the items you need to work on are on your laptop, not in the office.
3. The boss can easily keep tabs on productivity digitally.
4. How many meetings are important? If you didn’t go, what would happen?
5. You can get energy from people other than those in the same company.
6. Of the 100 people in your office, how many do you collaborate with daily?
7. So go someplace. But it doesn’t have to be to your office.
If we were starting this whole office thing today, it’s inconceivable we’d pay the rent/time/commuting cost to get what we get. I think in ten years the TV show ‘the Office’ will be seen as a quaint antique.
When you need to have a meeting, have a meeting. When you need to collaborate, collaborate. The rest of the time, do the work, wherever you like.
The gain in speed, productivity and happiness is massive. What’s missing is #7… someplace to go. Once someone figures that part out, the office is dead.
So, the ability to work from home was actually made possible since some of us now work on our laptops. And since everything we need are already in our laptops, then we can practically work anywhere and still deliver the output expected from us. The evolving technology also allowed us to be connected with our bosses and colleagues without the need of being in the same place.
Work from home is different from an eight-hour work shift in a way that you can be more flexible in delivering your work.
I have tried an 8am to 5pm work schedule and it’s like building up a daily routine:
you wake up,
prepare for work,
go back to work,
pretend to work or find something else to work on even there’s nothing else to do anymore (with the idea that you are paid by the hour, so you must be seen working for the whole eight hours straight),
prepare for the next day,
But here comes a work from home setup and if you are not used to making routines, you will surely be ruled over by the flexibility it offers. It’s not a surprise that you will end up wasting your day away.
I have to admit that in my early days of being in a work from home setup, I feel guilty when I can’t work starting 8am and feel bad when I still work beyond 5pm. But now that I am almost a year with this kind of work arrangement (upon the time of writing), I sure did learn a lot of things. And that’s what I will be sharing with you.
So how to remain productive when you work from home?
1. Take a shower first thing in the morning.
Getting a fresh start really makes a difference. If you agree, why not do it? Well, this might be a cliché but admit it, when you are working at home, you are too comfortable to skip the shower for the day. Why care? No one’s gonna know anyway.
But I think there’s a difference when you choose to take that shower before jumping into your work for the day. There’s a sense of alertness and vigor if you do. Skipping it will just make you feel tired and lazy then you end up doing nothing productive by the sunset. (Been there, done that) so just heed my advice. Go, take that shower first thing in the morning my friend.
2. Eat your breakfast.
Another thing I observed is that when I don’t start my day with a full meal, the rest of the day becomes a blur. If you are not the breakfast type of person, then skip this part. But really, eating at the start of the day makes an obvious difference: energy.
According to a study* by Charles Spence (2017), what we consume first thing in the morning is about mental alertness and as a general advice from experts, we should eat a well-balanced breakfast. If we fail to do so, it affects our cognitive performance.
How about those who make coffee as their lifeline? Spence (2017) cited a study which suggests that coffee should be consumed somewhere between 9:30 and 11:30 in the morning (and between 1:30 and 5:00 in the afternoon) where cortisol (the hormone responsible to boost your energy) levels are most likely dripping.
*Spence, C. (2017). Breakfast: The most important meal of the day? International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science, 8(January), 1–6. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijgfs.2017.01.003
3. Turn off distractions.
Focus makes a lot of difference in our productivity. Cal Newport wrote in his book Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World that “Efforts to deepen your focus will struggle if you don’t simultaneously wean your mind from a dependence on distraction“.
It only means that if you are the type of person who habitually checks their email and scrolls over Facebook and Instagram in the middle of their work from time to time, then rest assured that you won’t be doing much progress on your work. If it can’t be helped, then you might consider turning off your mobile devices or establish a screen time management to limit your time spent on specified applications.
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Yes, that’s right. Making a schedule is so important. Why? Unlike a fixed work schedule inside the office, being at home comes with so many distractions. They come in the form of bed, movies, games, pets, snacks, social media, and any distraction you can name of.
So if you don’t schedule your day, your week, and your month, it is so easy to get side tracked with everything else that do not contribute to your work productivity. As Pastor Sumrall says, “If you don’t calendar it, you won’t do it“. What to do then? Make use of a planner (either the old-fashioned physical book or the modern apps; whatever suits you). I personally find it more effective to use a physical book and have stuck to it three years since.
5. Plot your deadlines.
It’s easy to do everything else but work when you don’t have your deadline fixed. Because you know, you can just tell yourself lies like “there’s still time tomorrow” and “there’s more time to spare“.
However, plotting your deadlines allows you to assess where you are already in your progress. By simply knowing where you are already enables you to plan better and achieve your goal. It also helps you to steer clear from excuses about having more time and end up cramming when the deadline is already due.
If laziness convinces you to just take a break and call it a day, you should:
6. Remember your why.
If you remember your purpose why you are doing what you’re doing, you will be propelled to push forth and see your work though. Your home can be so comfortable to an extent that it begs you to just stop working and rest (or binge watch some movie series). But you should be wise enough not to give in.
Where you are right now is actually a position a lot of people covet. So don’t waste your opportunity of having the ability to work at the comfort of your home. When it’s a workday and you have a deadline that’s on the way, you must work. Hold yourself accountable.
- Take a shower first thing in the morning. Have a fresh start.
- Eat your breakfast. Load yourself with energy.
- Turn off distractions. And get your work done.
- Schedule. And stick to it.
- Plot your deadlines. It pays to know where the finish line is.
- Remember your why. Knowing your purpose keeps you going.
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