Teleworking is becoming more common nowadays. Many tech authors (myself too) work full-time from home. I am asked how I work quite often, so here is the skinny.
I often think when people ask "how I do it," they ask for a few different things. Firstly, they want to know how they can enter a career in which they work from home. I can understand the call, but I can also tell you that working from home is not a joke ̵
This leads to the second thing that I believe people want to know – they ask how I stay productive. Working from home requires some self-discipline, and maintaining productivity can be a challenge.
I've been working from home for almost a decade and have been constantly trying to adjust my workflow for maximum productivity during this time. Here's what I do, what products I use to get things done, and a few other things to stay productive.
I'm Cameron Summerson, the News Editor for How-To-Geek and Review Geek. That's how I work.
My Home Office: The Sea of Workspaces
My Productivity Journey begins in my home office. If I have learned one at home about work, a dedicated workspace is an absolute must. Sharing your workspace with the living room or bedroom is simply not fun (and I say that from experience).
Technically, my workspace is still a shared space, but I share it with my hobbies instead of other people. One half is for work and the other half for fun – hence the subsection "Mullet of Workspaces". Heh. The "front" half of my office holds the desk along with all the other things I use for work – the TV, the device charging station, and all that's good left together.
On the back you can find my hobby items: bicycles and guitars. When I work, my back is to this stuff, so it does not offer much distraction, even though I've found that taking a break is hugely beneficial when the focus is hard to find. For example, if I was overwhelmingly busy one morning and there is a break during the day, I will set up my bike trainer and fit into a workout. Nothing makes my head faster than the work that breaks down the work, which increases my productivity.
Oh yes, that's the other use for my office: it's also my "pain cave" (as it's known in the cycling world). I leave my bikes here for exactly this reason. When it's time to complete a training session (shout to TrainerRoad!), The training I am currently training for is ready for the trainer. This is the area where the division between work and play overlaps with space. The TV now works in three ways: it's connected to the computer as a third monitor when I need it, it does Netflix function while I'm killing myself at the coach, and it also acts as my streaming TV boxing hub for testing.
I & # 39; I'm working on designing the office to separate my workouts and workspaces. However, this is the central area in which space and arrangement overlap. I have a plan for the future, but it will take a bit of rebuilding, so he's on the field for the time being.
Apart from a workplace and a pain cave, my home office is also my jam room. I play the guitar and since my office is on the other side of the house from everything else, I can throttle the volume here without really disturbing anyone. My wife can watch TV in our bedroom while I'm playing, and she does not even notice. It's super cool.
I usually jam at night, but I also use the guitar as a temporary distraction during the day, when I can focus hard and have no time for training. So I grab a guitar and spend 10-15 rocking. This is great for clearing my mind so I can concentrate quickly.
While all of these things help me regain focus when I need it, my productivity devices and how I use them decreases.
My Gadgets: Everything for Work, Everything for the Game
Where I try to keep a separation between work and play in my office, my devices are fair play for whatever – it makes no sense to have one iPad for games and another for reading. That's just stupid.
Here's a quick rundown of every device I use daily:
- My desktop : This is my workhorse. It is now several years old, but it still serves as my primary work tool. It features a fourth-generation Intel i7 4770K (Haswell) at 3.5GHz, 16GB of RAM, a 500GB Crucial SSD, 2TB WD HD and GTX 980. A pair of Dell U2414H 1080p screens completes it. however, the TV also acts as the third screen. I'm playing with the idea of getting rid of the dual screens and moving a single Ultrawide, though I'm not taking any steps yet.
- iPhone XR: My main phone. I'm a longtime Android user, and although I've been carrying an iPhone 8 as the second phone for several months, this was the first time I ever used one of them as a daily driver. At some point I will use Android as my primary phone, but now I enjoy the XR. It's a fantastic phone that feels like a massive upgrade from the 8th
- Samsung Galaxy S9: My second phone. I've been using a Pixel 2 XL as the main phone for about nine of the past twelve months, but the USB connection has failed and warranty is no longer possible. The S9 is solid anyway, and I like to use it as my second phone. As soon as I get my P2XL back it will probably become my second phone.
- Apple Watch Series 3: My most important (and only) smartwatch. I use it mainly for weather and time at a glance, as well as for quick access to notifications. I also use it for sleep tracking.
- iPad (2018): I've just received that recently, but I'm not sure how I lived without it. It's my couch reader and passive work tool, but it also fulfills the tasks of TrainerRoad when I train.
- Pixelbook: I'm a big fan of Chrome OS and the Pixelbook is my main laptop. It's the base model – Core i5, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage – but it's an absolute rocket ship. It is blazing fast and never leaves much to be desired. I run it on the developer channel because I want to live on the brink of bleeding.
- Google Home: I have a home in the kitchen, a home mini in the office, and a third home mini in the bedroom. We generally use them for simple things – asking questions, setting timers, listening to music / podcasts, and controlling the hue lights.
- SHIELD Android TV: I have two of them and they are my favorite streamers. Best streaming boxes in the market, if you ask me.
These are my main units but I also have a lot of extra things – mostly cell phones – for testing. I will not bore you with all the details, but this includes every nexus phone from the Galaxy Nexus as well as Pixel 1 and 2 XL. These serve only as additional test devices.
Aside from the devices, I think my actual workspace is probably an even more important part of my flow and productivity – especially my desk. Like so many other people working at a desk, I work from a sitting / standing desk. It's an Ikea Bekant electric sitting / standing desk that I've had for a couple of years, and I honestly can not imagine going back to a sitting desk all day. I spend more time standing up than sitting daily (some days I'm not sitting at all). I can focus much easier when I'm standing, and so I'm much more productive. When I'm sitting, I'm using a simple, small design chair that I got from Amazon, which is well suited to my needs because I do not sit there that often. I wanted something that fits neatly under the desk when I'm not using it, which is good for the stool. Apart from that, it's also great for playing the guitar when I learn new songs and do not want to get up.
The other main tools I use every day are the keyboard and mouse: a Logitech K380 keyboard and MX Master mouse (v1). While the MX Master was a well-researched decision, I invariably came to use the K380. I used a Logitech K800 for years and then switched to a K810 when the 800 died. The K810 finally got to the point where it was unusable because the plastic keys were very worn and just felt awful. I had the K380 (still in the box) in a closet so I took it, cannibalized some batteries (yep, it needs a AAA pair) and started with the idea that I would order a new keyboard later on.
Long story short (ish anyway), I started to love this little keyboard. It feels great, though it only costs $ 40. The round buttons seem a bit strange at first glance, but after a slight adjustment period, I've found that I really like . This keyboard is far better than its price suggests, and I highly recommend it. Although I miss the backlight of my previous keyboards, but only slightly. All in all, I've decided to switch to a K780, a slightly larger version of the 380 with a pack of numbers and a great little docking tray tablets and phones. That could be useful for my everyday life. And before anyone asks, yes, I've already tried mechanical keyboards. No, I do not like her. Sorry.
The Software: Mostly Google and Some Other Things
Among all these devices, you'll find some common trends: I live in Google's cloud, where I store most of my files. Google Drive is my primary storage device because it keeps everything in sync between and all devices I use on a daily basis. A significant part of my workflow also depends on Google Keep. Here I keep up to date with all my work ideas and thoughts. If I can think of something, it does not matter where I am or what device I use, I can reference it later. It's a tool I rely on.
The trend of cross-platform availability continues in everything I do. Since I use iOS, Android, Chrome OS, and Windows, I need services and software that I follow in all systems (hence the heavy reliance on Google products). On the desktop, I live about 95 percent in Chrome. Slack and Screenpresso are the main tools I use outside of the browser. Speaking of which, Screenpresso is probably my most used (and valuable) Windows tool – I would do almost anything to preserve its functionality on Chrome OS.
And really, in Chrome OS, my workflow is probably going to change the most. It does not run Windows software, so the tools I use change when it's the pixelbook. For example, I rely on Android apps for annotations and other image-editing effects, and Skitch and PicSayPro do those things for me. Skitch is no longer actively developed (it's an Evernote tool) so I need to load it on Chrome OS devices. Sideloading is a kind of pain (and reduces the security of the Chromebook), but Skitch is the best tool I've found for the job when it comes to tagging screenshots.
Otherwise, Feedly is an integral part of my way of working. I'm the news editor here so it's one of my job to stay up to date. I was an inveterate Google Reader user (RIP) at the time, and Feedly has been a hit with me since Reader's death. Pocket also plays with how I work, because sometimes I find something that I do not have time to read and save it for later.
Staying productive at home, where everything is a distraction
The hardest part of working from home is good . My office was once a carport, but somewhere along the line, a former homeowner converted it into an extra room. It's right by the kitchen and the back door of the house – that's how we come and go 99 percent of the time – is next to the office. There is no office door, so there is no separation between the office and the rest of the family.
Fortunately, the office is on the other side of the house (apart from the kitchen). So I can not hear anything else when I'm here. My wife can watch TV and the kids can play or hang out without really disturbing me. That means a long increase in productivity, because being focused can be a real challenge when it comes to having a house full of people and no way to block them.
I also have music that plays pretty well a lot non-stop except on the first morning when everyone else is still sleeping. Keeping the melodies running during the day can drown what comes in for a bit of noise from the rest of the house, but it also helps keep me motivated. Sometimes the text can distract you. So if I find it hard to concentrate, I'll do some chill or something instrumental. I've also found that listening to a fast rap moves the brain quickly when I have to do a lot, so I'll use that to get into the zone for a few days. Singing also helps me to "get into the zone".
While most children and my wife understand that when I work I work and I should stay alone, my six. Yearling likes to play in the small landing next to the office. Since it is bright and sunny, it makes sense. If I find it hard to focus, I'll be reluctant to play him in the living room or in his room, but mostly I try to block it. Honestly, I like to watch him play him there and find out I miss his little game sounds on the days he does not come here. Maybe it's more of a comfort for me.
But over the years, as I worked from home, I've learned to "hyperfocus" – to block out everything that happens around me, and to focus exclusively on the work. I mostly use that to my advantage, and that's another way music helps. I am known to listen to the same song for hours because the repetition helps me to reach the hyperfocus zone. You can use this name if you want it.
Ultimately, I've found that productivity comes from a place of love, a place of desire. If you enjoy your work, it's not hard to stay productive. We all have days when focusing is of course a challenge (they are called Mondays, I think), but when you enjoy your work, it ultimately feels more like a hobby that you get paid for, not a slap you have to force yourself. If you are dissatisfied with your job, it gets much harder to get things done. Do what you want with this information.
That's the nuts and bolts of how I work, what I use and what I do to stay productive. If you have questions or other comments, you can put them in the comments. I will gladly answer everything I can.