The #WFH Setup of a [usually] Really Efficient Nerd

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I’ve worked really hard to invest back into my business and get to use the tools that help make work a true joy every single day.

COVID INSPIRING MY WORK FROM HOME SETUP

It’s been a little while since I’ve last written. I know we’re all a bit out of routines now and the inconceivable state of the world is the new normal.

I will say though, I’ve been pretty unaffected in multiple ways. Largely because I’ve been working from home for around 7 years now.

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Actually, I just left WeWork after being there for 3 years. I wanted to have a balance between work and home life. I still find that need, but far less now than before. I have really solid routines and a better focus than 3 years ago.

Funny thing was, I gave my 30-day notice to WeWork at the end of February, right before this COVID pandemic happened. Turns out it was great timing for that, too.

In coming back “home” to work full-time, I knew I need to establish some boundaries in order to make this work. (I live with my girlfriend and her 7-year-old daughter who is with us part-time. Oh yeah, and we have 3 dogs…)

Los Tres Amigos

BOUNDARIES WITH WORKING FROM HOME

Boundaries at home with work. Easier said than done. But if this isn’t done right, it can be a disaster and lead to, problems “at work” and “at home”…which exist in the same spot. Design carefully.

That’s an important distinction – are you actually “designing” your workspace? Or, are you defaulting into one?

I get not everyone is going to work from home, or even is working from home. But if you want the freedom to do what you want, when you want, you need to establish rock-solid boundaries and routines.

Boundaries I find to be the best set when you share as much as you can with your partner – the calendar is a great place to start and the easiest. I’ve apart of 3 teams and have consulting clients on the side as well. I have to have an impeccable calendar. If I don’t add something or get added to an invite, issues arise.

When your partner knows your calendar at all times, that is half the battle. I also build in “creative blocks” for myself so its not just executional or strategic work, but work that has me working on my businesses and through design lead thinking principles and not “for” my business or clients.

With the physical location of “boundaries”, I knew I had to do something here…we live right downtown in Denver. So, even though we have 2 bedrooms 4 bath apartment with plenty of space, we don’t have anything like most families in the ‘burbs (Sorry, I wouldn’t trade space for location any day).

I knew this “corner” of our apartment would have to be my workspace.

And the best way to separate the kitchen right next to it was to put in a sliding curtain: 

Not only does it help with some sound, but it’s a signal that “Ryan is in a meeting” or in some “deep work” and wants to be left alone working. Much like a “ON AIR” recording light. 

At times, I have been working videos for my latest course and this acted the same way, too.

I choose a black curtain because I have blonde hair, and it contrasts nicely for videos where I’m in front of the camera doing screen recording. I do quite a few of those, most every day, to both communicate with clients and meet on Zoom calls, etc.

ROUTINES

I’m a big believer in routines. Even though I’m not the best at them sometimes. I’ve even taken a course on this (if you know me, this isn’t surprising).

The goal of a routine is to establish a cadence and pattern, so you reap the benefits and power of doing the same thing, over and over again. Much like muscle memory and learning to ride a bike.

I really enjoy using my morning to get “the one thing” done before 11 am that I most want to get done for the day. If any of you use the Momentum app, you know you set tasks one at a time, no more.

The concept with the 1 “main” task before 11 am is that even if you get nothing else done the rest of the day (that’s happened before), that one task is already done and you have it behind you.

I am also a fan of planning out my day the night before (and my entire week the Sunday before the week starts) so its clear to me how I will spend my time.

I have invested in Glass Markerboards that I use for all my planning and funnel mapping.

I really find great simplicity in not using computers to start the day with task planning – way too many potential distractions. 

Waling in the mornings (often running is what I prefer) is what I do before I even turn my computer on.

My weekday morning routine usually looks something like this:

      • A cup of coffee
      • planning my day on my marker board (take a snapshot of my written plan to display on my side screen through the day)
      • A run/bike ride/walk (only times I don’t are on rare very busy days)
      • Quick small breakfast
        • I’m not a big breakfast person, but getting a little better (fruit/juicing is my favorite)
      • Getting my “one thing” done
      • Tasks for VAs/team in the Philippines for next day
      • Asana tasks and Email checks to start the rest of the workday flow

THE KIND OF WORK I DO

I’ve come aways from when I first started as a Digital Marketer in 2014. I spent 2-3 years learning a lot about video marketing and production – though I was going to have somewhat of a “Career” in that.

Then, I was introduced to the “measurement world” and haven’t looked back 🤓

I help businesses and teams understand their Marketing numbers better so they can scale in the right areas – confidently. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Paid Ads are also areas of expertise I provide as services for very select clients. (I usually only have 2-4 at a time).

That means I need to have a setup that is conducive to the work my clients get from me. I’ve been with Apple products ever since…I could afford to be after college.

They make the user experience fun with computing and I would have it no other way. I really don’t care that they cost more than PCs. If they are more fun and make work enjoyable (thanks to all the great apps that are out there for Macs) then I’m happy to invest more to truly love what I am doing.

I invested in an iMac Pro in late 2019. I had an iMac but wanted to upgrade for computing power. I use Chrome (obviously, I’m a Google FanBoy) pretty heavily with all their extensions, in addition to some pretty resource heavily SEO tools like Screaming Frog, SiteBulb, URL Profiler, etc.

Not to mention I still use Premiere Pro, Lightroom, Photoshop, Camtasia, SnagIt, etc…for all my media needs with my blogs/sites/random things I need to be done.

Once you’ve used Photoshop, it’s hard to go back to other solutions. So, I’m happy to pay the Creative Cloud monthly fee for solutions that I’ve learned to a high level and provide amazing value.

I also wanted a side-screen to be able to view my chrome browser completely in one screen while being able to inspect the element. This way, I can have my right screen just for code comparisons/editing/notes if need be.

CUSTOMIZING MY SETUP

I sort of felt like I was the only one on the Internet searching for a Vertical Monitor. I was surprised at how little articles and others doing what I was doing out there. At least, they may not have been talking about it.

However, Reddit’s “Battle-stations” sub-redit did prove to be a little promising for some vertical setups.

Most people I found are doing multiple horizontal 2nd monitors vs vertical monitors.

I decided to go with the LG 27inch Ultrafine 5k Display.

I tried using it horizontally at first. However, it was too wide (two 27 inches screens…no thanks) and I was looking for a specific variation. Not just another monitor for another monitor’s sake. 

I wanted to stay with LG. After doing research I found that these are the most likely to be Apple compatible – given I needed to look for Thunderbolt ports and wanted to stay way from HDMI-everything.

Here are some other things I use my 2nd monitor for:

      • Writing Blog Posts (like this one)
      • Reading Articles 👇🏻
      • Looking at/editing code 👇🏻
      • Using my Calendar 👇🏻
      • Using Asana (or Things for task manager at a glance) 👇🏻
      • More to come…(Don’t know all of the ways in which I’ll find this useful yet…if you have found something useful, please comment below!)

Here is my setup photo of my current work-station (#battlestation on Reddit) 🙃

INDEX OF PRODUCTS

LOVING YOUR WORKFLOWS, ROUTINES, AND WORK (YOUR LIFE)

I truly believe that if you create an environment to not survive, but thrive, you will be in a position to be able to succeed a lot more.

Hemingway didn’t become a Writer because of a fancy new pen. But, it sure as hell helps out to have:

      • Fast computers
      • Fast Internet
      • Fast local desktop applications
      • ENJOY using them

Did I tell you about the time I quit working for a company (back in my early Digital Marketing days) because I had to use their computer and it was a PC? Well, I technically didn’t quit, but I said I’ll go buy my own computer and told them I wanted to work from home also.

It was pretty bold, but man – that’s the moment I knew my freedoms were so much more important than anything else. It was one freedom that I knew stood for many more.

So, if you are serious about working from home long-term…not just due to COVID during it, then I encourage you to invest in setups, boundaries, and routines that will stay with you long after COVID is gone.

I believe strongly that business will never be the same. They will see a shift in vulnerabilities out there – and I think that people will be just as, if not more efficient work from home.

Business pay a lot of money for office space. Not all of them “have” to have it. Those that have an office space to seem “more official” and provide a place for their employees to work at will need to reconsider how much office space they are having to rent.

I have 6 contractors and we have never, and will never, have an office.

Please leave a comment below if you found this useful, or if you have questions – or suggestion on my setup!

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Sources + Mentions

iMac Pro
iMac Pro on Apple.com

LG 5k 2nd Monitor
LG 27MD5KL-B 27 Inch Ultrafine 5K