So you have determined you have a Generation Y Working sort of personality, you have found an avenue to work remotely and have set out your personal and professional goals you hope to achieve. So you are all set to start working from home, right?
Well, I would argue that you might not be as prepared as you might have assumed. Fortunately, the unpreparedness can be easily resolved with a few unique tools I have discovered to be mightily beneficial in my own remote working experiences.
How do I know these tools can contribute to a more productive, satisfying work-from-home experience? Because, having spent months working remotely for Resume Companion I have battle-tested my concepts to really determine what truly helped me be a better remote worker.
Obviously, these tools worked for me and may not be applicable to everyone. My work required I be connected to the internet, and that I do a lot of typing and mouse-work, hence the use of a desk. For other, less clicking/mousing intensive endeavours, some of these tools may need to be employed in different ways to maximize usefulness.
That is a no-brainer, you may say. You’d be surprised, I’d say to you, because the quality of audio equipment most people are using in their day-to-day life is appalling. Music has depth and texture and elevations. It creates atmospheres and ambiances. It has the power to alter mindsets and change perspectives.
Most cheap ear buds pave over these endearing aspects like a concrete over a jungle floor. Instead, allow your music to touch you. Get a pair of headphones that are super-comfortable and have a good frequency range. A large frequency range (10Hz-30kHz should do) will allow for all sounds to be heard, from very low bass sounds to very high treble sounds and everything in between. Headphones can isolate you from your environment, so if you have kids running around, a dog, or just noisy neighbors, the ability to remove their distracting audio presence from your mind is of utmost importance.
One of the most depressing and productivity killing aspects of working in a musty cubicle in the back corner of some old stuffy office building surrounded by other old depressing office buildings is your isolation from the natural environment. A key to remaining in a positive and productive state of mind is being connected to the outside world, and the sun, which powers literally everything on earth. Charge your batteries; get some sunlight!
In addition, and with sunlight as a requirement, consider getting a plant of some sort for your workspace. Plants have been shown in Texas A&M University studies to have a calming effect on people, even increasing accuracy, productivity and memory. By having a window and sunlight and a growing, oxygen-producing piece of mother nature on your desk, you are creating a space you will actually want to spend time in.
I personally use an electronic dock that my cell phone fits nicely in and that also charges my phone while it is connected to the dock as my timepiece. I placed this on a small shelf behind my actual working space. Having a clock is key to keeping track of your progress and sticking to a schedule, especially if you have deadlines to meet. However, one of the most distracting things is having a timepiece in direct line of sight.
Hanging wall clocks or desk-supported clocks are convenient in your house when you don’t need to focus on any one thing for too long. However, just like in grade school, staring at a clock, willing it to move faster (or slower, if you really enjoyed school) will only have the opposite effect.
By keeping your main timekeeping tool out of direct sight, like to your side or behind you, you will not be tempted to constantly check the time. Instead, when you get up to stretch or get a cup of coffee, you can glance at your clock. All computers and tablets have small digital clocks to help keep you on task without being obtrusive or counterproductive.
Racecar drivers don’t use minivans, movie producers don’t use iPhones and you shouldn’t be using cheap bargain bin tools, even when working at home. When working for a big company you often don’t get any say in the equipment you use, and in an effort to cut costs, some companies may equip you with low quality monitors, keyboards, chairs and or mouses (mice?). This doesn’t really help anyone.
Alas, as you are working at home and you have free choice of the tools you use for your trade. In effort to maximize your potential make sure you invest in a chair with proper support, a keyboard that is ergonomic and is conducive to fast typing, and or a mouse that allows for efficient movement.
If you are more of a free-ranger, meaning you’re not at a desk all day, get a good tablet, not a bargain tablet. Invest properly in your internet system, routers and storage devices. Just as skydivers and mountain climbers are obsessive about the quality of their equipment, so should you in order to reach your full potential as an independent worker.
Yeah, you heard me. This final piece of advice may upon first glance appear counterproductive. Why would you want something you consider a negative or distraction in your work zone? Well, the key is in moderation and reason. A vice may be as simple as a box of expensive 85% pure cocoa dark chocolate you break out after lunch every day to put you in the mood for reading your emails. Or it may be as simple as a beer, especially if you are in the creative industry and looking to let your mind unwind a bit.
The reason is, you can have a vice, enjoy it and use it for your own benefit. Hell, if you’re a pipe smoker, unleash your inner Albert Einstein and keep a pipe nearby. If you like flavored toothpicks or stress/squeezy balls, get one, and don’t be afraid to use it. By letting our methodical, habit part of our brain work its way through something non-consequential we free our other parts of our brain for serious thinking. At least, this is my perspective as I gently and serenely rake my mini Zen sand garden.
There you go, 5 tools that I have found to be particularly conducive to my working remotely. Obviously things like a schedule, general office supplies, a phone, a computer are all “givens” and I only tried to illustrate less conventional aids in an effort to make you, the reader, reconsider what you surround yourself with when you are working from home.
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