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Set Up Your Space

Lesson 2 from: Master Work (From Home) / Life Balance

Amy Schmittauer Landino

Set Up Your Space

Lesson 2 from: Master Work (From Home) / Life Balance

Amy Schmittauer Landino

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Lesson Info

2. Set Up Your Space

Being productive at home means setting yourself up for success—literally. The setting you make for your work is reflective of the work you turn out. We will discuss best practices for how to set up your space so you’re effective in it.

Lesson Info

Set Up Your Space

if we're going to have an effective approach to working from home, we've got to take a look at where you get your work done. So in this lesson, we're going to talk about setting your space up for success so that your environment keeps you focused on the task at hand. Let's talk about why this is important in a typical work life balance scenario, the separation is pretty clear. You start out at home where you get ready for work, then you commute to work by a certain time, you go to your space, whether it's a desk or an area within your employer's headquarters and then you work there when you're done or it's time you commute back home, you are back in home mode. Now, are the lines perfect like that all the time? No, they can be a little bit more blurry. But for the most part where you get your work done is much more clear in this scenario. Now let's look at a work from home life balance situation. The separation as I'm sure you will agree is much less clear. First, you start out at home,...

you're in home mode and then it's time for work and you just start working at home. You may clock in or clock out, you may have set hours. But for the most part the environment is the same, looks the same, feels the same as what home mode would be for you during those hours of operation, you're expected to focus on your work all the while, you're looking around and feeling the same senses of urgency that we would have from regular home tasks, staring us in the face while we're trying to get things done. Then when in theory it's time to be done with work, you're already home and need to somehow transition out of work mode so that maybe you can do some of those home things if you didn't already start on them because you got distracted from work while you were working from home. As you could probably tell from these two examples. The work from home situation requires a much bigger mindset shift to stay in your focus ST because that's the case and the amount that we use our mindset and how we use it throughout the day is so critical to our productivity on every level, we need to be able to make that mindset shift a lot easier. So now I want to talk about those critical success steps that you can take to start to differentiate the world of work and home when you have to be home for both all of the time. Here are my work from home success tips for your space space tip number one know where to go. One of the most important things that you can do to improve your productivity is stop making unnecessary decisions where they can already be previously defined when we decide where we work every day, even if that space is in the home, we are already making a decision in advance and make it a lot easier to shift into that space and into work mode when it is time to do that, let's start to finding those lines of separation when we are working from home so that we can help our mindset and decide on where our workspace will be. Maybe you have a home office and this is really simple, Perfect. If it's not quite as cut and dry and you don't have that option in your home, just having a desk and a chair with a space to spread out. What you need to do is really important. The most important thing in this situation is that you can designate one space for one purpose and that is work. So your home office is where you go to work. You are in work mode. The desk or chair where you have designated work is that space and only that space. If you can shut a door, that's a huge advantage. But simply being able to know for yourself that when you go to that place it's time to focus is enough. If fitting a desk and a chair into your place where you live is not likely as well, then the dining room table is always an option. We have to recognize the challenges with this though the dining room table already has one purpose and that is to be where you eat. So now when you're giving it a second roll, those two can interact with each other a little bit too often, if we're not careful, work hours can really easily become eating ours as well. And this can definitely be a big challenge if you're not the only one in your household and the people who are going into the kitchen are coming to the dining room table, because that is where they plan to eat their meal, may interact with your work hours and distract you. So it's really important to choose this space carefully. But when you're limited with options, we're going to have to leverage some of the other tips that will talk about in this class because communication is going to be key in this case. My advice is that when we are able to save time and money on a commute, it's very, very important that we invest in ourselves in where we will do our best work at home. As you can see, I chose to put a desk in a corner of a room and I'm just kind of making it work. It's a room that doesn't play a great role as a bedroom because it's also sort of a hallway. So I'm just making the most of the space that I have to work with. This gives my husband the attic to himself for his home office because we both work from home and this way we can keep the dining room, a dining room and the other areas of our home separate. We're very fortunate to have all of this space when you don't have this space, when you are working with other people who are in your space, defining those areas, talking to each other about them. And what it means for getting your best work done is vital. What I know for sure about my desk is that I only sit here when I am working. There is no other reason really for me to be in this room or to sit at this desk other than sit down, get work done. Whether it means I'm on a call or I'm getting a project done or I'm filming a video or anything. This is work mode for me, my second space tip is to set up your desk according to studies from just stand dot org. The average person is sitting for 12 hours per day and the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality is physical in activity. The likelihood that you're one of those people that is sitting for a lot of time during the day is very high. If you are watching this class and it is possible to do your work from home, I really do not want your work to kill you. So when we talk about investing in your space, when we decide the dining room table is not going to cut it, we've got to find a place where we can put a desk against the wall and make it work. Also consider a standing desk, you are maybe going to pay a little bit more money for it, but when you count up all of the hours that you're going to be sitting or standing at that space so that you can focus and get your best work done. Hopefully it'll be a little bit shorter period of time because you'll be more focused and be less distracted. But it's helped by having a space that gives you a health benefit. Standing is better than sitting all of the time. I know I'm saying this while I'm sitting, it just so happens to be the kids, but this is a standing desk and I have a task chair. The reason for that is if I have a super duper comfy chair I'm more likely to sit in it for longer. This keeps me moving and I'm only sitting for maybe a couple of hours a day and I'm getting my standing desk up when I need to alternate and get the legs moving a little bit. A couple of other things to consider besides the chair. And the desk is what is on the desk set up your desk just like you would set up any other desk, whether you were to go to a place of employment and go grab some pens from the closet and maybe a stapler in your situation. What do you need on your desk that's going to help you stay focused on the work, make sure it's only what you need so that you don't have so much that your world is a little bit too cluttered for you to stay focused. But if you're constantly having to leave your space in order to do things for your job that does take away from your focus. So having some of those critical things, pens, pencils, rulers, computer, laptop, external hard drives, whatever the case may be readily available at your desk is vital and my third space tip is to plan your do not disturb mode. Working from home no secret presents a lot of challenges when it comes to not getting distracted in getting the work done. Whether you have people physically in your space as well or not, we're going to talk in a future lesson about communication tools that you can use to talk to the people in your life, whether they are close by or at a distance to help you get your best work done. But first we need to have the tools that are going to make the do not disturb mode that we're gonna need pretty often possible for those of you fortunate to have a door on your office, shut that door we know right away that usually a shut door means something's going on. You need to leave the person alone, right? Or you may still have to have that conversation with some people if they are in your space. But having a door to shut is a pretty big advantage. If you don't, headphones can be very effective. Maybe not. The delicate small ones might take the really big ones to demonstrate that you are in the zone. But they can often work just as well as a shut door, especially if they have noise cancellation. Maybe you've got some great uh instrumental music that keeps you focused on your task. I have some really great focus playlists that I love on Spotify or different tools that you can use to listen to music. So maybe that's what you do in place of not being able to shut a door. I would like to share an example though, there was a time I went to visit a business that was an open floor co working space and I thought how do these people get work done when there's a lot of vibrancy which can be positive and can be helpful for a lot of people. But when you're just trying to hunker down and get something done can be very distracting, especially when someone's at the desk next to you literally with an elbow reach. And I saw somebody who was working, they had their headphones on and they added a sign to the back of their chair that said I am not here and I I don't think I've ever respected anyone any more than ever. I wanted to walk up and talk to her and say I love this so much. But I knew that that would be ineffective for her focus at that moment. So I never got the chance when you leave your availability up to interpretation, it gets interpreted however somebody might want to. So setting the boundaries especially in your physical space is a great idea. When I said do not disturb you were probably thinking of digital boundaries which is definitely a part of this conversation and having your different ways of limiting notifications and people being able to get in touch with you while you are working from your internet portals and from your digital spaces. One really simple way to do this. Don't have your phone anywhere near you. That's a big one because that gets a lot of notifications out of your life right away as I film this, I don't even have my phone in the room. I'm not relying on it to help me do the task at hand and so it does not need to be with me right now. However, maybe you need to have your phone for certain things or you need to be able to access different things going on with it or even things on your computer. We may not deactivate the internet on the computer but we can limit how much people can get in touch with us. The different communication tools that we need, whether it's text messaging or slack or all of our different project managers, phone calls they can all be controlled by do not disturb mode on our devices. Each device has their own different system for this but is certainly worth using. What I actually love is many of them will also let you just automate a schedule for do not disturb. So it can come on by a certain time of the night so that you don't get any messages or notifications in the middle of the night. Maybe it would wake you up if that were the case or you can decide oh there's a certain amount of time during the work day. I know for a fact I don't need to talk to anyone, not just my lunch hour but it could be for a specific period of time in the morning that I'm always focused on a project. I'm not checking email and I'm not touching base with anyone. You could schedule that in advance and it can be automated. I personally keep do not disturb on all of the night and most of the morning. In fact, I typically actually just forget to shut it off until around lunchtime. Which adds up to a pretty effective morning that I did not have to get text messages or anything from anyone until it was time for me to check on those things. And this kind of goes hand in hand with team communication tools. We are really, really diligent in my business with using slack statuses to let everyone know what we're up to. So that way, if someone maybe is reaching out to you because they want to know what you're working on and need to feel like they're closer to you but can't be because you are working from home, you can always indicate what you're working on with these digital tools without constantly having to be in direct contact with someone. So I highly recommend you leverage those opportunities to over communicate what you're up to. If your team doesn't use slack there. Maybe another tool that helps you to do this. Understanding the nuances of that, finding how they can work for you is a great idea. Not only do we need to think about people in our physical space and people in our digital space, but then there are the people that actually aren't checking on us at all, but we are checking on them and that is television and social media consumption. Let me first say that it is my literal job to be on social media and yet I limit my social media consumption incredibly if I have to be on my phone to do something on instagram for a work thing or if I have to do something on Youtube for a work thing, it is focused on that task. If I want to watch a video, if I want to scroll away and see what the world is up to. That is spent during the hours that I am not focused on the task. Having the tv on and having social ready to scroll at a moment that you decide to look away from what you're working on is a huge mistake. You take something that could take you X amount of time and you are likely doubling tripling. If not quadrupling what it actually takes to get it done. And that is the biggest trap that we fall into when we work from home. The trap of thinking we have all the time in the world. So when it comes to setting up your work from home space, we are making big moves to combat the typical challenges of working from home, including choosing your designated workspace and sticking with it, setting up your desk and the critical tools that you need within that space, removing invitations for distractions to increase your output and preparing. Do not disturb tactics that will help us communicate the boundaries we need from the people in our lives. Whether these tips sounded a little bit obvious to you or they were really enlightening, I would take a look at what you have been great at so far and what has been working and stick with that and then maybe pick up a couple that you could improve on. It's so important to note that it's usually the small things that compound into a big result instead of some big life hack that's going to change everything now that we know where you're going to work next. We're going to talk about what you'll do before you start working by starting the day on your terms, which is ultimately going to improve your productivity and how you assess the value of your own time.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Lesson 2 Worksheet
Lesson 3 Worksheet #1
Lesson 3 Worksheet #2
Lesson 4 Worksheet
Lesson 6 Worksheet
Lesson 8 Worksheet #1
Lesson 8 Worksheet #2

Ratings and Reviews


This class was a game changer for me. I have officially set up my complete calendar blocking system according to Amy's tips and what works best for me (which she preaches and I LOVE that, since no two people are the same)! This masterclass gave me the motivation I needed by helping me look inside myself and turn insight into "just do it" action. I have been on a journey this year to strive for more and now I can say I am truly on the path to living the life I want and live out my passion and purpose in this world. So grateful. Thank you Amy!!

Michelle Agonafer

This is a great two hours to spend in your day to make the MOST of the other 22. Invest in this class. I really appreciate Amy's well organized, well thought out and helpful strategies. Her gift is communication and she makes productivity accessible to everyone. Thanks for the class!

Marie-Pierre Mayoux

A super pleasant presentation, full of pieces of advice that I start to emplement with success. Thank you ! Pinky power rules !

Student Work