The month of August is often like the last fifteen minutes of a good TV show- you know that it’s about to end but just hate to see it go. Please know that if you were to take action on all 30 of the following suggestions, the last thing your life would be is simplified. The key is to pair back, do less and live more. Pick two or three, do them well and see what happens.
- Wear sandals. They’re cheaper than regular shoes and you can save on not buying new socks. Whenever bear feet are present, relaxation follows.
- Clean out your wardrobe. Do you really need 14 pocket books? Are 5 pairs of dress shoes really necessary? Cleaning out old clothes is good for your closet and even better for your spiritual well-being.
- Throw something away. Few things clear the mind like tossing something into the trash. Go with your gut and do what feels right.
- De-Spam with pleasure. Nothing says “ah” like getting a spammer off your back. Report them, block them and clear your in-box of those that would make daily life a living hell.
- Walk it. If you can add some free exercise into your lifestyle, why not walk it? Choose a farther parking space, go for a stroll at lunch or just add a brisk 10 minute walk to your after-dinner ritual.
- Trade it in. Many people don’t know that you can trade in your old cell phone contract, not to mention your phone. You can also swap a car, clothing and old appliances. If it’s been bugging you, act on it today. A good resource is www.freecycle.org for donating a lightly-used product.
- Upgrade your gear. Rather than be “that guy” who is always upgrading without actually learning the finer points of a PDA, GPS or software package, be a connoisseur of fine gadgetry and upgrade when you are ready. The right tool at the right time can make all the difference.
- Visit the doctor. Why not start the new year with a check up? It feels great to hear someone tell you that you’re healthy and fit.
- Put on your boots. When was the last time that you took a long, half or full day hike in the woods? August is the perfect time to get out there and have nature take your breath away.
- Play with dirt. Dig something up, plant something new and get dirty. Whether it’s power washing something dirty or digging a ditch for better irrigation, there’s a magical element to getting dirty and then getting clean afterwards. Take all that your yard has to offer and get dirty.
- Donate lavishly. Why not end summer with a final charitable gift? You could write a fat check or better yet, you could donate a generous amount of your time or expertise. Be on the lookout for someone who needs a hand.
- Do a good deed and don’t look for credit. Whether it’s as small as leaving some change in the Dunkin Donuts tip-cup or mowing part of your neighbor’s lawn, good deeds build character and social currency.
- Plan out your year. If you could accomplish two or three things by March of next year, what would you do, starting in September, that would get you there? Is there a habit that you could perfect or a tendency that you can overcome?
- Go for a new look. If you’ve always wanted a perm or buzz cut but have been afraid to go for it, use August as your last window of opportunity. For guys, the only difference between a good haircut and a bad one is about three days.
- Take a long weekend. Instead of a high-priced trip to someplace expensive, go for a long weekend to the beach or at a B&B. Sometimes a short weekend trip is as beneficial as the extended stay somewhere more expensive.
- Take the “By Christmas” test. Take some time, when you can get alone and think. Then write down a short list of items that you’d like to accomplish by Christmas. There may be someone in your family that you want to reconnect with or an objective at work that you’d like to meet.
- Take out the trash. This is especially important for those in high-delegation positions. I learned years ago that a leader or executive who is comfortable taking out the trash is probably humble enough to be an effective leader. Don’t’ do it for others to see you- do it to build humility and character.
- Kill your subscriptions. What newsletters, magazines, papers can you eliminate this month? Since so much is available online, do you really need a hard copy of each of those subscriptions?
- Weed out your RSS reader. If you are currently subscribed to 30 or more blogs and are having a hard time keeping up, pair it back to less than ten. It’s ok- give yourself permission to do it today.
- Pray for five minutes every day. Nothing says priority like a person in prayer. Take the time to cultivate this important habit each day.
- Write an old-fashioned letter. With so much junk mail, a real letter stands out above the crowd. Who will you reconnect with this month?
- Retool your first and last hour of the day. These all-important hours set the tone and bring closure to the other 22 hours. Use them well and appreciate the difference it makes in your day.
- Clear your conscience. Is there something on your mind that you know needs attention? Often conscience is that internal GPS, telling us to avoid the bad stuff and cling to the good.
- Clean your air. Having air ducts cleaned out is a great way to ensure that your family’s air quality is up to par. You may be surprised at how much dust builds up over time in your house’s duct-work.
- Get GLOCAL. If you’ve ever wanted to do something for someone around the world but didn’t know how, adopt the “glocal” mindset: do something locally for someone globally. You might enlist one or two friends to put together a care package for a soldier in the Middle East or write letters to victims of a natural disaster.
- Organize your planner. Clear out the excess papers and receipts and streamline for the Fall months.
- Do some list hygiene. If you have duplicate email and snail mail addresses in your GMAIL or YAHOO organizers, spend five minutes a day clearing out the junk.
- Share your lists. Know someone who can benefit from one of your contacts? Go ahead and drop them a line with the person’s name or email, discussing how they might want to connect with one another.
- Hone your habits. Which one habit, if done well and every day, could really benefit your life in a dramatic way?
- Read LifeHack every day. Sorry, I just couldn’t resist!
Mike St. Pierre is the creator of The Daily Saint, a productivity blog focusing on work-life balance. www.thedailysaint.com
At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.
Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.
One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.
When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.
So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.
Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day
This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.
Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.
When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.
Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity
One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.
Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.
An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.
When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.
Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day
Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.
We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.
By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.
Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment
While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.
I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.
You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.
Con #1: We Move a Lot Less
When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.
Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.
Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.
Con #2: Less Human Interaction
One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.
Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.
Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.
This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.
While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.
Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment
Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.
This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.
For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.
Con #4: Unique Distractions
Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.
For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.
To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.
Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.
We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.
More About Working From Home
- 10 Tips to Help You Be More Efficient Working From Home
- 7 Ways To Supercharge Your Productivity When You Work From Home
- 10 Work from Home Desks to Boost Your Productivity