One of the critical elements of being productive is dodging distractions. When you are slaving away over deep work, distractions are your nemesis. More accurately, they are your nemeses. Think how many distractions lurk about you as you read this. They must be stamped out. Focus must be maintained.
One of the advantages of working from home is that I have much more control over my immediate work environment than if I worked in an office. In my quest for productivity, I’ll take any advantage I can get.
That’s why I work in a somewhat minimalist workspace.
Behold my work desk yesterday morning (which is remarkably similar to every morning).
Three key points:
- I only have one monitor. I have friends who love the multi-monitor lifestyle. They say they can have lots of things open “to reference” while working. This blasphemous practice makes me shudder in horror. Imagine all the shiny distractions. I suspect many of them “reference” their email, Twitter, Facebook and so on. Talk about a distraction-rich environment!
- I primarily work at a standing desk. Hence there is no chair. (Fear not, I have chairs elsewhere I can sit on). I love working at a standing desk. It took a few weeks to get used to, but now I don’t even think about it.
- I work at a mostly empty desk. I don’t even have a computer on my desk; that’s how minimalist it is. I tend to have a keyboard, trackpad and a notebook (or two) to hand along with a couple of pencils when I work. I do not have a phone or tablet in sight while I slave over deep work unless, for some reason, I really, really need it.
(And note the cacti—I’ve been led to believe that us creative folk who work from home need a cactus or two about the place.)
How do I keep my desk so minimalist and tidy? Simple. At the end of every day, I have a half-hour power down. During that time, among other things, I tidy my desk and the rest of the room ready for the next day’s work.
Something you can’t see is the music I play. I don’t like working in total silence, but I find music with lyrics can be distracted when I’m concentrating on deep work. As I’m a simple chap, I usually play the same playlist every day during my two hours of deep work. Why? The clue is in the playlist's title.
If I feel fruity, I go wild and press “Shuffle”.
That’s Not All, Folks
Of course, I’ve only discussed my physical environment in this post. It’s just as important to set your digital environment. I’ll talk about that in a future post.