How I Work From Home: Cam’s Pain Cave of Productivity

Teleworking is becoming more prevalent these days, with many technical writers (myself included) working full time at home. I am asked how often I work, so here is the skinny one.

I often think that when people ask "how do I do it?" They ask for different things. On the one hand, they want to know how to embark on a career where you work from home. I can understand the call, but I can also tell you that working at home is not a joke. It's not as fun as you think, because you have no separation between work and home. duty stay focused.

That brings me to the second thing that people want to know, in my opinion: they ask me how I can stay productive. Working from home requires some self-discipline, and maintaining productivity can be a challenge.

I have been working at home for almost 10 years now, and throughout this period I have been constantly trying to adjust my workflow to achieve maximum productivity. Here's an overview of what I do, the products I use to get things done, and a few other things I do to stay productive.

I am Cameron Summerson, news editor for How Geek and Geek Review. That's how I work.

My home office: the mule of workspaces

My productivity "journey" begins in my home office. If I've learned something about working from home, it's a dedicated workspace is an absolute must: Sharing your workspace with the living room or bedroom is just not fun (and I say it by experience).

Technically, my workspace is always a shared space, but I share it with my hobbies rather than with other people. One half is for work and the other half for fun – hence the subtitle "The mule workspaces". He h. The half "front" of my desk contains the desk, as well as all the other items I use at work, such as TV, charging station and everything else that stays good together.

In the back half you will find my hobbies: bikes and guitars. When I work, I turn to these things, so it does not offer as well a lot of distraction – even though I found that taking a break was extremely beneficial when concentration is hard to find. For example, if I was very busy one morning and there is a break in the day, I will prepare my bike trainer and insert it into a workout. Nothing refreshes my head faster than a backbreaking job, and my productivity soars accordingly.

My bikes The red tire is specifically for the coach.

Oh yes, that's the other use of my office: it's also my "grotto against pain" (as we know it in the world of cycling). I keep my bikes here for this exact reason. When it's time to start a workout (scream at TrainerRoad!), no matter which bike I'm training at that time is ready for the coach. This is the only area where work / leisure separation overlaps a bit in terms of space. The TV has three functions: it is connected to the computer as a third monitor when I need it, Netflix works while I am killing the trainer and also works as a hub for my streaming TV for testing.

I work on the layout of the office so as to separate my training and my workspaces, but for now, this is the central area of ​​overlap in space and arrangements. I have a plan for the future, but it will take a bit of remodeling, so it stays on the back burner for the moment.

Guitar equipment.

Aside from a workspace and a grotto against pain, my home office is also my jam room. I play the guitar and since my office is on the other side of the house, I am free to mount the volume here without really disturbing anyone. My wife can watch TV in our room while I play and she does not even notice it. It's super cool.

I play mostly at night, but I also use the guitar as a temporary distraction during the day if I have trouble concentrating and do not have time for training. So I will catch a guitar and spend 10-15 dancing, which is great to clear my mind and allow me to refocus quickly.

Although all of this allows me to focus again when I need it, my productivity depends on the devices and the way I use them.

My devices: everything for work, everything for the game

Where I try to keep a separation between work and games in my office, my devices are a fair game for everyone – it makes no sense to have an iPad for games and another for reading. It's just silly.

Here is a brief overview of each device I use on a daily basis:

  • My desk: This is my workhorse. It's a few years now, but it remains my main working tool. It has a 4th Generation 3.5GHz Intel i7 4770K (Haswell) processor, 16GB of RAM, a 500GB Crucial SSD, a 2TB WD HD hard drive, and a GTX 980. Dell U2414H pair of 1080p displays complimented him, but the TV also serves as a third screen. I think of the idea of ​​removing double screens and moving only one ultra-wide, although I still do not move.
  • iPhone XR: My main phone. I am a long time user of Android and although I carry an iPhone 8 as a second phone for several months, it is the first time that I use one as a daily driver. I will eventually go back to Android as my main phone, but for now, I enjoy the XR. It's a fantastic phone that looks like a massive upgrade the 8.
  • Samsung Galaxy S9: My secondary phone. I used a Pixel 2 XL as the main phone for about nine of the last twelve months, but the USB port came out and the warranty claim went out. The S9 is solid since I got it, and I like to use it as a second phone. Once my P2XL is recovered, it will probably become my second phone.
  • Apple Watch Series 3: My main (and only) smartwatch. I use it mainly for the weather and the hour, as well as for quick access to notifications. I also use it for sleep tracking.
  • iPad (2018): I only recently, but I do not know how I lived without her. It's my couch player and my passive work machine, but also handles TrainerRoad's tasks when I train.
  • Pixelbook: I am a big fan of Chrome OS and the Pixelbook is my main laptop. That's the basic model – Core i5, 8GB RAM, 128GB of storage – but it's a real rifle to use. It's fast and it never leaves me wanting. I run it on the developer channel because I like to live at the forefront.
  • Google Home: I have a house in the kitchen, a mini house in the office and a third mini house in the bedroom. We usually use them for simple things – ask questions, set timers, listen to music / podcasts, and control Hue LEDs.
  • SHIELD Android TV: I have two, and these are my favorite streamers. Best streaming boxes on the market if you ask me.
Unlikely best friends.

These are my primary devices, but I also have a host of extra things, mostly phones, to test. I will not bore you with all the details, but this includes all Nexus phones from the Galaxy Nexus, as well as Pixels 1 and 2 XL. These serve only as additional test devices.

Aside from the peripherals, I have the impression that my actual workspace is undoubtedly an even bigger part of my flow and my productivity, especially my office. Like so many other people working at an office, I work from a sitting / standing desk. It's a Sit / stand electric desk Ikea Bekant I've had in recent years and honestly do not know I can not imagine going back to a full-time office. I spend more time standing up every day (some days, I'm not sitting at all). I'm able to concentrate much more easily when I'm up and I'm much more productive. When I sit down I use a simple little writing stool that I've received from Amazon, which suits my needs perfectly since I do not often sit at the start. I wanted something that fits perfectly under the desk when I do not use it, which the stool does very well. By the way, it's also great for playing guitar when I'm learning new songs and I do not want to stay up.

The other main tools I use every day are my keyboard and my mouse: Logitech K380 Keyboard and MX Master Mouse (v1). While the MX Master was a wise choice, I ended up using the K380 by necessity more than anything. I've been using a Logitech K800 for years, then a K810 when the 800 is dead. The K810 ended up becoming unusable because the plastic keys were very worn and awful. I had the K380 (still in the box) in a piece of furniture, so I grabbed it, I cannibalized batteries (yes, it takes a pair of AAA) and j & # 39; I started using it with the idea of ​​ordering a new keyboard later in the day.

Long story short (anyway), I started to like this little keyboard. He has a good feeling, despite the retail sale for only $ 40. The round keys look a bit weird at first, but after a slight period of adjustment, I found really like them. This keyboard is much better than its price suggests, and I highly recommend it. The backlight of my previous keyboards I miss, but very little.

That said, I plan to move to a K780, which is a slightly larger version of the 380 with a pack of numbers and a super small connection tray for tablets and phones. It could to be practical for my daily life. And before anyone asks, yes, I tried mechanical keyboards. No, I do not like them. Sorry.

The software: mainly Google, with some other stuff

Among all these devices, you will find some common trends: I live in the cloud of Google and that's why I store most of my files. Google Drive is my favorite storage medium because it keeps everything synchronized between all the devices I use every day. A considerable part of my workflow also depends on Google Keepthat's where I keep up with all my ideas of work and all my thoughts. If anything comes to mind, no matter where I am or what device I use, I can throw it in Keep for reference later. This is one of the tools 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 follow me on all systems (hence the great dependence on it). Google products). On the desktop, I live in Chrome about 95% of the time, with Slack and Screenpresso to be the main tools that I use outside the browser. Speaking of, Screenpresso is probably my most used (and most valuable) Windows tool – I would give almost anything to have its features on Chrome OS.

And really, Chrome OS is probably where my workflow changes the most. It does not run Windows software, the tools I use change when it comes to the Pixelbook. For example, I rely on Android apps for annotations and other image editing changes, with Skitch and PicSayPro manage these tasks for me. Skitch is no longer actively developed (it's an Evernote tool), so I have to Sideload it on Chrome OS devices. Side loading is a bit of a hassle (and decreases the security of the Chromebook, among others), but Skitch is the best tool I've found for the job when it comes to tagging screenshots.

Other, Feedly is an integral part of my job. I am the news editor here, so staying abreast of news is part of my job. I was a frequent user of Google Reader at the time (RIP) and Feedly was gearing up since Reader's death. Poached also plays in my work, because sometimes I find something that I do not have time to read right away, so I'll keep it for later.

Stay productive at home, where everything is a distraction

The most difficult part of working from home is, well, job. At one point, my office was a carport, but somewhere along the line, a former owner converted it into an extra room. It is right next to the kitchen and the back door of the house (which allows us to come and go about 99% 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 opposite side of the house (except the kitchen), so I can not hear anything when I'm here. My wife can watch TV and kids can play games or relax, all without really disturbing me. It's okay long improve my productivity because staying focused can be a real challenge when it comes to having a house full of people and there is no way to block them.

I also have almost continuous music, except for the first hour of the day, when everyone is still sleeping. Keeping the melody during the day helps dispel the little noise that could happen from the rest of the house, but it also helps me stay motivated. Sometimes the lyrics can be awkward, so if I have trouble concentrating, I turn on something cold or instrumental. I've also found that listening to fast-paced rap means the brain moves quickly when I need a lot of things, so I'll use it to enter the area for a few days. Singing also helps me to enter "in the zone".

Although most children and my wife understand that when I work, I work and should be left alone, my six-year-old likes to play in the small landing right next to the desk. It's bright and sunny there, so it makes sense. If I have trouble concentrating, I'll play it reluctantly in the living room or in his room, but most of the time, I'll try to block it. Honestly, I love watching to see him play there and find that the days he does not come here to play, his little gaming sounds I miss a bit. It may be more of a comfort to me.

But over the years of working at home, I learned to "hyperfocus", block everything around me and focus exclusively on work. I use this to my advantage most of the time, and this is another way that music helps. I am known to listen to the same song for hours because repetitiveness helps me to enter the hyperfocus zone. You can use this name if you want.

In the end, I found that productivity came from a place of love, a place of desire. If you like your job, it's not hard to stay productive. We all have days to concentrate is a challenge, of course (they call on Monday, I think), but in most cases, if you like your job, it sounds more like a hobby for where you are paid not work that you have to force yourself to do. If you are not satisfied with your work, it is much harder to get things done. Make with this information what you want.

It's the secret of my job, what I use and what I do to stay productive. If you have questions or other comments, feel free to add them. I will be happy to answer everything I can.

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