Working from home


This video clip of an ESFJ gives a hint of their role as a creator of great teams and their love of a challenge to get things on track. There are lots of things that you don’t see here as well. The home office where this was taped was immaculate with all the top of the line equipment – a mega printer/photocopier combo (whish you can see over Greg’s shoulder), a paper shredder, a great chair and desk enhanced with a wonderful piece of art. This was an office that could run a ship in style. Greg is my “go to ” person whenever I need to know where to find the best equipment or way to get something done RIGHT.

Greg is at a point in his career where some people would encourage him to go out on his own as a consultant. The downside for this ESFJ for himself is that it doesn’t satisfy the requisite “people” part of the equation.

Greg is a super bright fellow so his work stands for itself. The truth is he is pretty low key about blowing his own horn, but those who work with Greg quickly come to recognize his capability. The added bonus that he brings to the workplace is that he naturally creates environments where people feel safe enough to contribute their best self. This happens in all circumstances and Greg is a great friend as well as a valued colleague to many.

Category : MBTI Facts | Video | Working from home | Blog

A woman entering a meeting holding an attractive box caught my attention – what was in this pale yellow and orange 20in. x 12in x 4in. treasure chest? As she sat down at the table she opened the box and removed a file, a notebook, a newspaper clipping, a photograph and a text that she was going to reference. I was curious and couldn’t resist asking her about the box- for after all- this is a planning session. Her response was even more intriguing than the box itself. “It’s Twyla Tharp. She says that ‘before you can think outside of the box, you have to start with a box’.”

I made a note in the margin that simply said “Twyla.” I liked the idea that she had hinted at even if I had very little to go on at this point. Why was this so interesting to me? The thing that I have to confess to is a shameful lack of organization. My office has piles – miles of piles. Usually if people don’t mess with my piles I can find things with some kind of uncanny radar, but when I encounter the organizational mastery of some people with a preference for Judging – I experience “Judging” envy. Colour coded files in straight rows ….ooooohhhh….I love the idea but the execution is so painful for me.

Boxes might be a solution that I could live with… beautiful boxes to capture various projects through all stages from conception to completion. I needed to find out more. In her book, “The Creative Habit” Twyla Tharp explains her approach.

Everyone has his or her own organizational system. Mine is a box, the kind you can buy at Office Depot for transferring files.

I start every dance with a box. I write the project name on the box, and as the piece progresses I fill it up with every item that went into the making of the dance. This means notebooks, news clippings, CDs, videotapes of me working alone in my studio, videos of the dancers rehearsing, books and photographs and pieces of art that may have inspired me.
The box documents active research on every project….

There are separate boxes for everything I’ve ever done. If you want a glimpse into how I think and work, you could do worse than to start with my boxes.

The box makes me feel organized, that I have my act together even when I don’t know where I’m going yet.

It also represents a commitment. The simple act of writing a project name on the box means I’ve started work.

The box makes me feel connected to a project. It is my soil. I feel this even when I’ve back-burnered a project: I may have put the box away on a shelf, but I know it’s there. The project name on the box in bold black lettering is a constant reminder that I had an idea once and may come back to it very soon.

Most important, though, the box means I never have to worry about forgetting. One of the biggest fears for a creative person is that some brilliant idea will get lost because you didn’t write it down and put it in a safe place. I don’t worry about that because I know where to find it. It’s all in the box….”

After reading this I realized that this was something that made sense to my way of working. Keeping items of various sizes and shapes together all in one place would foster inspiration and creativity. The added bonus of the ease of one step sorting and the use of visual cues would work for my preference for Perceiving in a way that “label maker” labels on alphabetized files never would. It isn’t simply that I am lazy or lack discipline – I don’t have the DNA.

I wonder if most people who are professional organizers have a preference for Judging. I have made several attempts to have people who do this for a living come in to master the piles in my office. The office supply store loves these attempts as I buy lots of supplies for managing paper, folders, books etc. Eventually I fall off the wagon if the set up isn’t visual, immediate and uber simple.

When working in a home office we need to find systems that we will actually use. Organization doesn’t need to be done just one way – find one that works for you. It makes sense that an artist like Twyla Tharp might have a suggestion that works for my ENFP preferences – thank you Twyla

Category : Working from home | Blog

Winter can be a long haul for those of us who live in the chilly and dreary East. When I googled times for sunset here in Toronto 4:42 p.m. was the average time this month. Many of us react to these factors by wanting to hibernate and working from home can become both a blessing and a curse.

The blessing comes in not having to shovel out the driveway, scrape off ice from the windshield and try to warm up a very chilly car…not to mention avoiding delays in traffic when it snows and the white knuckle commute on icy days.

People pride themselves on “business as usual” and brag about all of the extra work they manage to produce without the delays and time taken up by going to the office. What I am curious about is the impact of pajamas and sweats with big cozy slippers over the course of three months. Is this nirvana for those who have a preference for introversion? Do both introverts and extraverts need to guard against “cabin fever” if they stay indoors for too many days in a row?

For the uninitiated “cabin fever” according to Wikipedia is:

A slang term for a claustrophobic reaction that takes place when a person or group is isolated and/or shut in, for an extended period. Symptoms include restlessness, irritability, forgetfulness, and excessive sleeping.

The origin of the term is unknown, but was first recorded in 1918. The term may originate from the United States during the time when settlers would be snowed into their log cabins in winter and would have to wait for the spring thaw in order to travel to town. The phrase may also be associated with ocean-crossing sailing ships in which passengers had to endure weeks and months of slow travel while living in cabins below deck.

Here are my observations from personal experience: Yes,working from home may have advantages for those with a preference for Introversion. I have heard people say that they there comes a point where in hindsight they realize that they have been in this comfort zone for too long and the effort has to be made to reach out. Whether connecting with others comes from the natural rythmn of your business cycle such as client or team meetings or from social interactions, pay attention to scheduling in the amount of external stimulae that is optimum for your work flow.

For those with a preference for Extraversion, mental stimulation can come from listening to music or getting out in the bustling neighbourhood to grab your coffee instead of plugging in the expresso. It doesn’t always need to be from face to face interactions. Being aware of energy levels and what you might need to provide the right amount and kind of stimulation can make working from home a blessing no matter what your preferences might be. The thing is to take the right action that suits your needs in the moment. A walk around the block or some brief exercise might be the refresher needed to keep the malaise of cabin fever at bay… that and keeping the pajamas for bed time.

Category : Working from home | Blog

Solopreneurs and independent consultants have long been familiar with the concept of working from a home based office. Various factors in today’s marketplace are converging to change the face of how we do business across the board. Advancements in communication technology, increased costs for gas and the challenges of creating work/life balance have put “working from home” on the table as a trend that can benefit both employee and employer. Telecommuting is quickly becoming a reality for a significant number of employees across all sectors.

This can be a daunting thought for some people accustomed to their familiar routines and rhythms of the work day – from where to get the coffee from freshly ground beans at the bistro on the corner, to the support and energy from other employees and the infrastructure of a well run office environment. Changing to a home based office can also be viewed as a tremendous opportunity to create an environment that suits your particular needs not only as they are now but also what they might be in the future.

In 2007, I wrote an essay on “Living Artfully” which was published in “Upping the Downside: 64 Strategies for Creating Professional Resilience by Design“. Living and working artfully is something that people are talking about and paying attention to for very practical reasons that have to do with creating work that is sustainable and allows us to contribute creatively. Increasing complexity demands that we go beyond what is rote and mandated to an integrated approach that calls on all of our gifts and talents and all of who we are. Shifting to working from home is an opportunity to rethink what is important and to design a work environment and approach that suits both your needs and the needs of those you serve through your work.

There are different things to consider in making your plan for working at home depending on your preferences. What are the top two or three things that you do that makes working from home work for you?

Category : Working from home | Blog