My Home Office Life - Steph Nelson

My dog, Simon, has claimed this spot as his in my Home Office, right under my whiteboard.

My dog, Simon, has claimed this spot as his in my Home Office, right under my whiteboard.

What do you do in your home office?
I’m also the co-creator and guide for The Home Office Project. And together, with my business partner, Kathy, we create online courses for individuals to help them share their idea or expertise with the world.

How long have you been working from home?
12 years and counting

Where is your home office?
Johnstown, Colorado, USA

What do you think contributes the most to your success?  
What helps me the most is my ability to manage my time and identify “why” I’m doing each task. Each day, I'm able to focus on what’s most important rather than getting lost in working for the sake of working.

My home office set-up. Not elegant, but it's perfect for the way I work.

My home office set-up. Not elegant, but it's perfect for the way I work.

What is your top productivity tip for getting things done in your home office?
When I feel like I am lacking focus or am starting to procrastinate, I make a list of 3 specific tasks I want to get done today and then start my first pomodoro. For me, this is a can’t fail productivity trick.

What tool have you recently discovered that has been a game-changer?
Although not recently discovered, there are 3 tools that I have been using for years on a regular basis. Here are my 3 game-changing tools:

  1. Trello: Kathy, Patrick (my business partners) and I use Trello extensively to map out projects and plan our weeks and days. We create very specific cards in Trello, add target dates, assign the appropriate team member to the card and watch the magic happen (in Trello-lingo, that means moving a card to “Done”).

  2. Remember the Milk: I have used Remember the Milk for years to manage all of my tasks. I manage my life tasks there, I add lists of ideas, and my work tasks that I’m not collaborating with anyone else on.  I have tried other task managers and always come back to Remember the Milk because of the ability to add time-estimates (Do you want to know if you have too much on your plate, when you see that you have 10 hours of tasks to do, yes, you might be biting off more than you can chew.) and create smart lists that help me hone in on what is most important.

  3. Evernote: Evernote is my brain. I put all of my thoughts, ideas, meeting notes, workouts, journals, recipes, meal plans and pictures of my whiteboard scribbles in Evernote. I would truly be lost without it. I use tags extensively. So, if you want me to find a meeting note where we talked about PHP, with our advisory team, I can find it in 45 seconds.  It’s not because I’m smart, it’s because Evernote is. One of my biggest joys in life is when my friends start using Evernote. I think they start because they are tired of me asking them if they are using Evernote yet. :-)

I love to talk about “tools”.  Clearly. :-)

Do you have a mentor or team you rely upon for advice?  What is the most valuable aspect of that relationship?
I have a great team of people around me that I work with on a daily basis (great business partners). We also have a group of people we reach out to that are embarking on projects that are similar to ours. To be able to share our “best practices” and then ping someone when we get stuck and don’t know which way to turn is priceless.

Do you have a morning routine or ritual?  If so, what is it?
My morning routine is ever evolving and I’m okay with that. I start my mornings slowly, sitting on the couch, sipping coffee (usually Bulletproof). I play Word With Friends in the morning. I’m not sure why, it’s just a routine that I’ve done for a long time. Maybe it is waking my brain up slowly and I don’t even know it? After that, I try to spend time every morning reading a few verses in my bible, then writing a gratitude list and then I’m out the door with my dog, Simon, for a walk.

On average, how many hours a week do you work?
Probably 40-50 right now. Although, like most people, sometimes that number goes higher. I am really trying to find balance and am trying to cut those work hours back.

What’s your favorite thing to do outside of your home office?  
Escape to the mountains, walk with my dog, meet up with friends for coffee, watch the Rockies at Coors Field, spend time at the gym. Although not a serious mountain biker or cyclist, I enjoy getting out on the trails in Fort Collins, Loveland, and Boulder and sweating a little.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
From someone I don’t know, although the author of one of my favorite books, “Burn Your Goals”: "Authenticity comes from choosing to operate out of love instead of fear."