• David Verhaag

Productive Spots We Love

Updated: Dec 23, 2020

I recently moved into a new home in the mountains near Park City. It is definitely not a “new home,” and to call it rustic is a big understatement. Originally a summer cabin, my wife and I decided to move in full time despite the lack of electricity, winter plowing, or an answer to the questions of whether the home was actually insulated or the squirrels were willing to move out without three months notice.

There were many great reasons for us to take on this next adventure, the location and view are amazing, but one of them is our respective offices. My wife and I work from home, and for everyone who has made this year’s adjustment to WFH, you know how important it is to have a dedicated space to work.

My wife’s office and art studio is a small outbuilding. It is separated from the house by about 100 ft, which is just far enough to make the winter journey through 10+ ft of snow a joy-filled commute. My office is a small loft in the main house. It is just big enough for the desk my wife built for me, a reading chair, and a small but growing library. Unfortunately, I gave away most of my favorite books when we lived on a sailboat in Half Moon Bay.

As we adjust to our new workspaces, a few thoughts on workplace productivity come to mind.

Whether you work in a company office, a make-shift home office (aka kitchen counter), or have a dedicated home office, creating a place not only to work but to spend time reading can help improve your work productivity. Many studies show employees who take time to read, aside from email and the work specific content, perform better in their jobs and advance more quickly in their careers. Creating a space to read, even if it’s just your favorite spot in the break room, can help develop a healthy reading habit. Creating a space to read in the workplace has the added benefit of reinforcing that learning is work and not just an after-work activity.

Creating a physical place to read and creating the silence needed to absorb the material is essential. For everyone working from home at the kitchen counter while homeschooling and preparing meals and maintaining the house and … silence has never been more golden. Creating a quiet space needed for productivity really can be as simple as investing in noise-canceling headphones. I put off buying a pair for years, and now I wear them almost every day. When I visit the office or wear them at home, it’s a signal to everyone that I am focused on something and do not want to be disturbed.

For people who have worked from home for years, you know how important it is to close the door on the workspace and return to your post-work life. Whether this is a door, a ladder to the loft, or a small snowfield, physically closing the work environment can ensure a healthy work-life balance and productivity when you do sit down to work. For many people living with temporary home offices, this can be more difficult. When I lived on a sailboat, where there was not quite room enough for a home office, this was as simple as closing the computer and storing it in my work bag in a storage compartment. This had the positive effect of helping me close out the workday without a commute or a home office door to close.

I appreciate that these are strange times, and for the many people who are fortunate enough to be able to work from home, even temporarily, a “home office” is not always in the cards. These are three simple suggestions for creating a productive work environment wherever you are.

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