'Know Thyself' - Wisdom for new Home Workers26.05.2020, 15:05
Lockdown may be lifting but the pressure and importance of work must go on (and we’re not just talking about completing our mini-tasks for points here at Prizes Drop!)
Along with the many pitfalls of working from home - chiefly, the number of distractions and personal temptations to procrastinate continually delaying any actual productivity - comes the issue of where and what primary tools to get right.
If you find yourself - or have made yourself - a new home-worker, then you must be aware that your ancient human nature will continue regardless. Home-working and video-chats, ‘remote working’ have been big buzzwords during these hard times (which continue to be endured by businesses trying to keep their oars in the water). But, even from someone used to working at home, it’s possible to view such buzzwords with scepticism - and realism.
Can the dynamism of an office with a tight, friendly team all working together and bouncing ideas off each other ever be ‘replaced’? Well, it can at least be replicated - somewhat - at a distance (and much depends on the nature and demands of the job). But there are lots of articles banging on about how the office will be changed forever. Well, that will only depend on whether employees can be relied upon to arrive at a balance on their own, with the most effective home setup.
But back to what human nature really is. It’s the desire to be motivated, to socialise and collaborate, to exercise and get tired out, to grow food, discover things, build or renovate, master new things and be creative; to feel in control of our environment. We are not machines that can just plug into the term ‘home-working’ without it possibly breaking down, or more simply: failing. Having family at home makes it even more necessary to appreciate this nature. For more active types of people, working at an (office) home is impossible. At the very least, touching base regularly with a boss, colleague, partner (i.e. a supportive ‘motivator’) is crucial, along with keeping ahead of deadlines to sustain your own motivation. ‘No man is an island’, even in this age of technological ‘empowerment’ - and separation.
You might be lucky enough to have a secondary outbuilding or garage already spare to retro-fit for working. Lucky perhaps - but you still have to drag yourself in there every day. If lighting, heating or anything is wrong or uncomfortable, this can have the opposite effect: no-one will go in there, but will stay in the main house. So, in fact a small, separate room, close (but closed) to the center of your house-hold can be just as effective. With young kids around, you’ll only be able to work when they are watching TV or being supervised, however an accessible but closed, private room (wherever it is) will become essential.
When it comes to outfitting, you also need a comfortable, ergonomic swivel chair at a desk positioned at the correct height for your (fast) computer. This should preferably be close to eye level, or where you can extend your arms out directly in front of you. This can help your back and concentration. Cupboards and drawers? Forget them, if possible. If you put something away it’s normally for a long time, or to avoid whatever it is. ‘Out of sight, out of mind’, as the true saying goes. That’s good for cleaning equipment, but that's about it.
Lastly, are you a late night person, or early riser? This can depend on the season(!) but whichever it is, just make sure you don't end up watching TV instead.
In this article we want to highlight the wonder of Google Chromebooks, especially for home-working. You don’t get constant updates, anti-virus pop-ups and distractions. They’ve always been the ultimate choice for freelancers, and especially writers. However, the main point is to highlight speed. Time is money, and this is nowhere more true than when buying a computer or laptop. If you’re not techie-minded, then never buy a cut-down computer. Speed is paramount, so buy the best, least distracting computer for working that you can. Chromebooks deliver this, even the cheapest ones, where prices are pretty decent anyway. Check out this list of best Chromebooks of 2020.
One big drawback: you can’t run full Microsoft Office or Apple’s pro software suite like Adobe Creative Cloud, but you can find alternatives and cut-down editions that work directly in a browser, with many of the features you need. Need an image editor for your Google Chromebook? Just use Pixlr.
Google suite, which includes Google Docs, Drive, Sheets, Keep etc. gives you a powerful alternative to Microsoft Office, (and it does try to be compatible) but even so: you’re bound to run into compatibility issues if your employers send you various Office files. It’s a shame, but there’s not much to recommend. There are work-rounds, but to be honest the best thing is to have a back-up or reconditioned Microsoft computer just for using Office occasionally.
Some other IT tips: when it comes to doing lots of printing, then laser printers are still the best. They just work, and they work fast. Inkjet printers: they may produce better photo-printouts (who actually prints photos these days?) but they’re only for small doses of printing. Laser printing takes away the hassle. Wireless printing? It is handy for family homes, but not office homes. You want speed. Try and keep your printer plugged in directly into your computer. Or at least, keep it in the same room to avoid any delays waiting for print-outs.
Beyond this, go easy on the coffee and bear in mind there will be productive days and less productive days, just as with any office. (Espresso is a weapon so deploy it at just the right moment.)
But you just need to achieve a good balance, and one that can be maintained. It will be important even after VR and AR have arrived to create amazing home or virtual offices, where no-one has any more excuses, or is truly safe from work again!
Otherwise, that’s it for this post - and our take - on home-working. Be sure to keep earning those points here at Prizes Drop for rewarding yourself (once you have enough) at the end of the month, by swapping them for free Amazon vouchers and much more. Sign up and get your own motivational dashboard today.
Main Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.