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Porches, Purpose, People & Productivity

Rising Sun Redbud

It’s a late August Sunday, and the cicadas are in full song.

I’m on my front porch, with my laptop open, feet up, ready to post ideas to help you be a more masterful you.

My fascination with the topic hasn’t waned in 25 years of working with people to create optimal physical and mental environments for success.

The focus of the article was only to highlight the power your external and internal environments have on you.

Customized workspaces make it easy to focus on tasks at hand.

I was going to tie the idea to the pleasure I get from how the developers of my century-old neighborhood of columned brick houses insisted every house have a roofed front porch at least eight feet deep. Their successful intent was to create breeze and community. Families, runners, dog walkers, and children pass by—it’s an inviting place to be.

For some, enough task success comes from environmental changes.

Improvements can come from even minor changes in lighting, temperature, and ergonomics. More, or even less, open space (yes, that’s a thing), or moving a desk closer to a window or a wall provides a surprising amount of comfort.

One seemingly small improvement for me was the thoughtful gift of a large monitor. My typos decreased dramatically!

For others, better outcomes happen by adjusting their internal environment.

Your internal environment tweaks can be finding a different attitude or intention that inspires you and helps ward off procrastination. For others, it might be a distraction-reducing medication that changes their neurotransmitter levels and increases attention and concentration.

But then I decided to expand the article to include another factor that is both external and internal.

Another component of focus that is often not considered is how the proximity of other members of your community affects your ability to focus and how long you stay at a task.

Some prefer to work solo; some need the anchor of someone who is very close by. (Think back to school study hall.)

If you’re in the latter group, what can you do if someone is not available to work alongside you?

Enter virtual co-working.

It’s sharing an open video screen with any number of people with the same intention: to silently work on personal tasks concurrently for a set time period.

I offer this service for clients but can’t offer it on demand as many need.

I was asked for another recommendation, so I tried this one for you:

Focus Mate, a low-cost virtual coworking studio.

My review and opinion? Try it!

  • There’s a free trial and sign up was easy, just a name and email address. If you’re reluctant, you can use an alias and a non-personal email address.

  • There’s a free version of 3 sessions a week (25, 50, or 75 minutes)

  • You can also choose an unlimited paid version.

Is it weird to have a stranger’s face on your screen as you work?

  • Yes, if you look at them. Then it’s a distraction and not for you.

  • No, if you make their video small and turn your attention to your tasks (if a computer task.)

  • It's not an issue at all if you’re working out of the video range.

What I liked about it:

  • Since it's international, there's almost always someone available, so you can schedule quickly.

  • I found it helpful if only because I didn’t want to disappoint the other person. (Hint, that's a good exercise in tying your values to an activity.)

  • There's a countdown timer and an alarm when the session is over. Your partner(s) report their successes by voice or chat.

  • The trial is simple and free. What's not to like about that?

  • You can see the number of sessions people have used it for, some in the thousands, which is encouraging.

In the end, it's always a combination of factors that help folks do what they need to do in the most efficient and effective way possible.

What does this mean for you?

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