Our (lack of) separation is spoiling our work: a few counterintuitive tips for productivity

I go to the store to buy groceries even though I could order them from Instacart. But going out, we’re told, is a waste of time when there’s important Knowledge Work to be done. As if a blow to our productivity wasn’t the most harmful injury we could suffer from, a world contaminated by a virus strengthens this argument.

“Don’t run to Target, buy it online!”

“Don’t install a home office, write that memo in bed!”

“It’s too dangerous to go alone. Take this cellphone and order your lunch from Uber Eats.”

“You need to start thinking about how valuable your time really is. Just stay at home and let the Internet take care of it.”

..at what cost?

Working off our laptop in bed seems like a luxury until it starts to spoil our work. No longer separated by space and time, our projects suffer. Working where we sleep puts our work to sleep.

Taking the ‘solo’ in ‘solo-entrepreneur’ seems sexy until we realize that nobody has ever truly worked alone. Not even Batman.

I hope you realize that your work is too important to be done in the same space you use for sleeping. I hope you understand that there’s a reason why virtual co-working spaces exist. Good work is rarely done in a vacuum. We are social creatures. We need the sun, we need movement, and we need to see other people so that we don’t go crazy and rip off our arms.

If you’re lucky enough to work from home, and if you’re listening to this you probably are, you need to set boundaries. Of course, setting boundaries isn’t the only factor that’ll improve the quality of your work. And for that I suggest the following counterintuitive tips for focusing on what matters.

Walk.

Get some sunlight.

Go to the store.

Say hello.

Ask a cashier how their day is going.

Your work will be ready for you when you get back.

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