Keep Your Desktop And Notebook Separate When You Work From Home

If you work from home, or even if your employer provides you with a notebook, it might be tempting to start working from your desktop machine. Usually you benefit from more performance, a comfy chair, customisation through hotkeys and shortcuts and all the other perks the come from tailoring your home PC into the most productive device it can be. If you do get taken by this desire, I would urge you to resist it.

When I started as Weekend Editor, working across Gizmodo, Kotaku and Lifehacker, I set myself up on my desktop machine. However, I found it difficulty to disconnect from my editing work and switch gears to software development, which I do from home during the week. There was no natural cut-off point — I just closed my browser windows and web mail, and then fired up Visual Studio. Instead of a clean transition from one type of work to the another, there was just this muddled process of closing and opening programs.

I've found it a lot easier to concentrate and shift into "developer mode" by keeping all my dev work on my desktop and my editing gear on my notebook. It also means I can completely customise my notebook for the sole purpose of writing for the sites. When I'm done, I just close my notebook, go upstairs and jump on my desktop — perhaps stopping for a drink or a snack to reset my thought processes.

This applies to work and hobbies, too. Of course, not everyone has the luxury of owning a desktop and a notebook, so if you've found a way to make a clean break between projects, or entirely different fields of work, be sure to let us know.


    "even if you’re employer"
    i think you mean "your"

    on topic: only having one laptop for everything, i just make my laptop dual boot. one for work and the other for non-work.

      It sounds like a good tip but it sounds easier in theory then in practice

    i just work when i'm home, and use facebook when i should work

      For those of us with Linux we get to use work spaces which gives us at least 4 different screens using the one monitor. I group activities according to screen which creates that much-needed symbolic separation.

    I have a laptop that's just for taking notes and doing assignments. So the only program I have really installed on there is Microsoft Office.

    20 seconds to boot into Windows 7 to be able to start using it is the best advantage, compared to some machines that take 2-3 minutes to boot up.

    I do have to side with you there.
    One of the clients that i work for provide a laptop for the "main" computer and also a proprietary vpn connection to work from home if need be.

    This has advantages and disadvantages thou, bringing the laptop home yes bridges the gap between work life balance.

    I can image your dilemma in that you have a desktop for development work and a laptop for your weekend editing. I to dable in some development work other internal systems that i work with.

    I know if i ten to open those systems then decide i think i have a solution for a code block i will fire up visual studio and it will run at half of what the laptop can handle.

    I would say although not ideal for everyone, own a laptop and run a desktop that runs something like ESX and build up 2 environments 1 for weekend editing and the other for your software development, the joys of this is that you will be able to benefit from increased performance of a desktop even whilst removing in of a laptop.

    Because i am assuming you can do your weekend editing anywhere you can take your laptop anywhere and do what you need to do from the laptop, but also have that backup of a VM in case that happens.

    Yes a little bit of extra money, but in my opinion a worth while investment, as this also allows you to develop for multiple environments and test things in different situations (Personally finding issues because half the company is on windows 7 and the other half on XP with IE6 (Web developer)).

    On my laptop, I have one account for work related things and one for my personal use, I keep all of my music, movies, photos and personal email accounts attached to my personal side and keep my work related things in my work account, I have different desktop backgrounds set on each, and a custom theme for my personal one, giving it a more personalised feel.

    I like it because it means that to access my personal videos, music etc. while at work I would have to switch accounts, which would take me out of my work environment in a way and I just don't do it, lol.

    Plus, because of the difference in appearance and shortcuts etc on my personal account, despite being the same laptop it feels more personal when I am on that account.

    That's the way I like to set up.

    Totally agree. When I work from home, I use my work laptop. If I want to take a break and surf the web, I go into the other room and use my desktop, then come back to the laptop to work.

    The sooner you accept that we're all irrational, emotion-driven beings, the sooner you can start putting in place the little tricks that will actually make you productive.

      Exactly- I've experimented with different desktops to load on the in the different environments- the manga wallpaper for home is areminder of where i am, ditto the plain blue on the work desktop.
      I also use firefox for home, IE for work- with relevant RSS feeds, bookmarklets etc on each. I also have bookmarklets on each, to post wepages and links to the other- when i find myself discovering something cool but not work related, i email the link to myself to follow up at home (and vice versa).

    Get VMware, it's free - run your editing work on a VM ... Suspend when you develop.

    Why would you not set up your work laptop with the same customizations you're used to having at home... then all you need is a monitor, mouse and perhaps keyboard and you're set.

    10 seconds plug in time max, and you have all the benefits as well as clear separation between work and play.

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