Working from home with your special someone
Like many families in 2020, mine had to change up how and where we worked. Before, my wife and I swore we could never work in the same office — let alone have that office be our house. Then we suddenly found ourselves doing just that. Over time, we got into our groove, and now we can’t imagine working any other way.
Personal and Shared Spaces
The key to our WFH setup is having separate work areas as well as shared spaces. Each of us has a work setup that matches our personality: mine on the top floor and Miranda’s in the basement. Having our offices as far apart as possible allows us to be on video or phone calls at the same time without interrupting each other, and we can each play our own music or TV shows in the background. It lets us be ourselves both personally and professionally to do our best work.
The main floor between us and our deck is all communal space, where we meet to eat lunch, talk about how our day is going, and vent to each other.
Tools of the Trade
Being a project manager means you have to be the most organized person in the virtual room and that requires a few apps to help you along. My go-to’s for both personal and professional organization are Todoist and Apple Notes.
Throughout my day, things come up that need to be followed up on, either immediately or in the future. Todoist allows me to quickly add to-do’s and organize them by day, time, project, and tags, using natural language processing. Good recordkeeping is also a must for a project manager, and while there are more feature-rich and complex note-taking apps out there, Apple Notes keeps it simple while still being powerful enough to keep my thoughts organized so that I can come back weeks or months later and be able to find exactly what I am looking for.
You may have noticed in the photo of my desk that I use only one external monitor, while my wife and many others have two or more. A few years ago, a teammate set up an ultrawide monitor on his desk; I tried it out, and then went out and got myself one. Having one large monitor instead of multiple displays keeps my desk tidy, with fewer cords and a single swivel-arm mount. Combine that with a compact USB-C hub, and you have a clean setup that allows you to have two Macbook Pros, an iPad, a keyboard, and a mouse on your desk without feeling too claustrophobic.
An Office and a Hideaway
Our offices are not only places of work but also places to play. My office doubles as a nerdy hideaway; it is where I have my PS5 and my 3D printer that I use to print the board game pieces I design. Miranda has her hideaway as well — a place where she can go to decompress from the craziness of the day.
After a long day, I can relax for a few minutes in my recliner playing a video game, and Miranda can put on The Office before we have to get ready for our second job as the mom and dad to an energetic 5 year old.
A lot of people say it is best to have separate spaces for relaxation and work, but sometimes you have to combine them due to the number of available rooms. This has worked for us, and over time we have made our work from home setups into places for both business and fun.
Having an office that doubles as a place of leisure, it can be tempting to pull away from work and play a few video games or watch a movie. Working from home requires a lot of discipline but having your gadgets and toys in the same room ups that need for discipline even more. Thankfully my Playstation and TV are to the right of my desk, just out of my peripheral vision which helps keep me focused on the job ahead of me and I keep the controller far out of reach so that I have to take a few steps to grab it and in that time I am able to quell the temptation to “play just a couple rounds of Call of Duty”.
Making It All Work
To make our work from home setups work together, we had to agree that we are both free to make our individual spaces our own. For our shared spaces, we agree on the theme and decor, but when it comes to our offices/hideaways, those are ours to decorate individually. This has allowed us to feel the most comfortable in the places where we spend a third of our days.
We swore we would never be able to work together, but here we are two years later — and it has made our bond the strongest it has ever been.