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VOL. 45 | NO. 8 | Friday, February 19, 2021

Where was this last year when we really needed it?

By Terri Schlichenmeyer

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Zooooom. Since you started working at home, that’s how fast your day goes. You get up, walk to wherever you’ll work for the day and that’s where you stay until, zoom, your day is over. You love the extra freedom it gives you but things could be better, maybe tweaked a little, and in “Work-from-Home Hacks” by Aja Frost, you could find some ideas.

First, there was the dream: working from home.

Then, there was the reality: working from home, and though it’s been awhile since you started, just setting up an official place to work in your abode still needs some finessing. Frost says to look for wasted spots, for instance, that “awkward space” where you toss your to-be-laundered things? Welcome to your new workspace.

Working from home sure seems like it would save you money on your commute so Frost recommends spending that extra on a good chair, a decent convertible desk, and an extra laptop so you don’t cross work and leisure by accident. She also warns readers to double-check their routers because routers get outdated.

Get yourself into some sort of routine: don’t sleep in. Take a couple spins on the stationary bike before heading to work, to trick yourself into a “commute.” Wear shoes while working, to signal “work” to your brain. Keep a calendar and don’t procrastinate.

“Work-from-Home Hacks”

by Aja Frost

c.2020, Adams Media

$15.99

255 pages

On your email signature, add your pronouns and your time zone, especially if you’re working with people from outside your area. If you find your interest lagging, take a power nap or move your laptop to another room. Teach your children to heed do-not-disturb work time with colored lights. Outsource tasks as much as possible; it might cost a little extra but it’ll give you more downtime. Check in with co-workers often, or find a friend who’ll hold you accountable. And finally, know when it’s time to quit for the day; you work from home, but not 24/7.

You’d think that a book full of advice on how best to work remotely would be helpful right about now, huh? That depends on your definition of “helpful.”

“Commonsensical” is more to the point: that’s a lot of what’s inside “Work-from-Home Hacks” and some of that’s belabored by unneeded, infinitesimal break-downs of a subject. There’s also plenty of repetition and several instances where advice completely contradicts a point made a few pages prior; other entries could feel cheekily presumptuous, especially if posed by non-managerial workers, because it’s often unclear to whom the advice is aimed. Most annoyingly, each subjects’ headers are printed in yellow characters, making it difficult (if not impossible) to read in artificial light.

It’s not all bad: there are nuggets in this book that, if you haven’t thought of them or considered them, might be worth the price of the book alone. The best advice, perhaps then, is to page through “Work-from-Home Hacks” and see what author Aja Frost has to offer. You might appreciate the simplicity of it all, or you might want to just zooooom on by.

Terri Schlichenmeyer’s reviews of business books are read in more than 260 publications in the U.S. and Canada.

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