Scott Hanselman

The Importance of Nesting when Remote Working and Quarantine Working

June 11, 2020 Comment on this post [9] Posted in Musings
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"08.30.10" by colemama is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.We've all learned the hard way that Quarantine work is not Remote work. It doesn't feel the same because it's not the same. It's a hard time right now and tension is high.

"People are overwhelmed, afraid, and stressed. There's a background pressure - a psychic weight or stress - that is different in these times. This isn't a problem you can fix with a new webcam or a podcasting mic."

I really believe that self-care is important and one should be as deliberate as one can in how they live.

One day we were working in the office and the next day we were home indefinitely. Some in spare bedrooms, most in our kitchens, laundry rooms, garages and front porches.

What does "nesting" mean?

Nesting is not just what a bird does to prepare their space for the coming family, it's also what we can do as humans to make a space for ourselves to be successful. It's the deliberate practice of setting up your work area so that you can be successful and fulfilled.

Your space doesn't need to be fancy. Nesting isn't blinging your space or making it look expensive - nesting is making it YOURS.

  • Can you sit and work comfortably? Is your space ergonomic as it can be?
    • Is your monitor or laptop angled in a way that doesn't cause eyestrain or neck strain?
  • Do the things around you feed your spirit? Toys? Gadgets? Family pics? Post-It Notes?
    • Be intentional. Don't just let your space happen. What is calming for you? What's productive? Do you like a nice whiteboard?
    • Perhaps a fresh notebook can de-stress you? Your office can be a Zen garden. Does clutter calm? Fill it with fun. Do you like open space? Clear your desk.
  • What's your lighting situation?
    • Do you have natural light or a window nearby? Maybe you should.

Stop for a second. Perhaps while reading this blog post. Look around and ask yourself - why is this space like this? How did it get this way and do I feel good here. What can you do? Maybe it's just straightening up. Perhaps literally just turning another direction to adjust light.

This is the start of a process to make your space you own. You can't control your quarantine situation but you can be intentional about your nest.

What have YOU done to make your space your own? How are you nesting?


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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June 16, 2020 6:58
My home workspace is a room in the house that is completely isolated from others. There is a lot of sunlight and my desk is filled with all sorts of weird things. For me, Clutter really is calming. Productive workspaces are really important to be efficient. Great advice!
June 16, 2020 14:16
Good article. After the confinement, I have bought a new lamp and then a gaming chair. Recently I bought a nebulizing fan for the summer. I feel good but after reading your article I feel that I need to clean my space because there are so many distracting things there. Thanks
June 16, 2020 19:26
Very good tips. I think it's very important to have right environment when working from home, where you can easily get distracted.
June 17, 2020 6:02
a few of the things to calm my workspace......

no radio or tv background noise - spoken words in the background clutter the foreground thoughts of my work

no email, chat, twitter, facebook or other distracting popups

check email every 2 hours

no background tabs in the browser with message or Q&A sites

a work list of items to get done for today in the most plain text editor possible - notepad or equivalent - a step up in complexity yields more distraction than the benefit

remove all apps off the phone except what comes with the phone plus a browser - I did not understand how much extra time tax each app took until I uninstalled them one by one

reduce the environmental footprint of the software I use - use base install of developer tools when possible - minimal set of add-ins to Visual Studio. Almost no extra developer software on the laptop - each extra piece of software is a point of failure and takes hours of maintenance each year

reduce the total number of accounts I have - don't sign up for web sites if possible

reduce and unsubscribe to any and all periodical emails informing me of a new feature or third party company meetup or newsletter

importantly, reduce the number of web sites I check each day for news and tech information

get down to 3 podcasts to listen to - keep the ones under 45 minutes - listen mainly to podcasts other than technology

yagni - follow only 3 open source projects

read about new technology rather than watch a 10 minute video - 500 word article at 2 minutes to read versus 10 minutes of video

cut the cord on streaming services

order from mail order services less than 5 times a year without any subscriptions

ignore frequent shopper rewards (except airlines) as the time wasted to sign up, keep track of and redeem is miles below minimum wage

rarely check a web site or app before going and doing something

read more paper books and do not read tech books

avoid tech monomania in all its forms

tech monomania is (programming at the day job plus open source contribution plus programming gadgets plus home automation plus tech blogging plus listening to tech podcasts all the time)

have an outside hobby outside the house without tech heavy and without a garage full of tools something inexpensive

call the significant people in your life as much or more than the number of text messages you send them

An uncle told me to consider each life choice with "What would your great-grandparents do in this situation?"

Consider the rate of change by asking "How much different would today be to a person that went to sleep 20 years ago and woke up today?" Not much for 2000-2020 when compared to significant changes during 1980-2000 or better 1935-1955.
June 18, 2020 13:49
No mention of plants? for shame ;)
June 21, 2020 7:39
Very good tips. I think it's very important to have right environment when working from home,nedenbiz.com
June 23, 2020 4:03
O yea in this pandemia Quarantine work is not Remote you'd need it , some time a read book from libros lara bery easy to read on muy kindle thants for your tips
June 24, 2020 22:03
When we started working from home, I bought an ergonomic chair and a desk that raises and lowers to the desired level. Best ~$1000 ever spent. That does make a lot of difference. Taking walks during the workday helps, especially during meetings when you don't need to be near a computer.
June 25, 2020 21:39
Lighting is something I struggle with. My home office has a window, but my desk faces it, so I have to have the blind pulled down over half way. Because of the size and shape of the room, it's the only configuration that really works.

There is a single ceiling bulb in the centre of the room, with a 15W, 6000K LED, which *claims* to be 100W incandescent equivelant, but the room still feels too dark for my liking. I've tried numerous LED bulbs, but combined with a shade, none seem any brighter (without a shade, it's like staring directly at the sun!).

I've considered getting a reflective coating for the window, but going by reviews they seem really difficult to apply correctly.

I'm really happy with my work space apart from lighting - would really appeciate some lighting suggestions!

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.