Simon Linacre
Simon is director of international marketing and development at Cabells, a Texas-based information services provider. He has worked in academic publishing for 15 years, and prior to that was a journalist and English language teacher

Can Prolifiko be used for other working projects aside from writing? After spending 20 years working in offices, publishing supremo Simon Linacre landed a plumb, home-based job for US company. But he soon came to realise that teleworking can be tough without the structures of an office environment. So he decided to find out whether Prolifiko could help him work from home more productively. 

There’s a little secret about working from home that no-one ever tells you about – and it can kill your resolve, your creativity, your will and pretty much everything else you need to do your job.

And why do other teleworkers not tell you before you start to work from home?

It’s because they’re in on the secret as well, and they’ll break the code if they let light in on the truth.

Secrets revealed

When you work from home, you’re free to have as many secrets as you choose.

No one will know. No one will care.

As long as you do what others think you need to do, you can do whatever you want in whatever way you want.

When I first started my home-working job, my secrets were:

  • Snacking on a truly gargantuan scale
  • Scooby Doo-style sandwiches for lunch eaten as messily as possible, followed by an entire four-pack of yoghurts
  • Defining your own work so that eight hours straight on Twitter is ‘productive’
  • Going for walks that take half of the day for the sake of ‘wellbeing’
  • Writing to do lists with increasingly short timelines so that you are down to writing them twice a day

You cannot, of course, remotely get away with such behavior in an office.

Indeed, the reason why relatively benign actions are the object of constant gossip in offices is probably because everyone acts the same way.

But at home, you can watch YouTube in the name of ‘research’ and no one is the wiser.

It’s a myth that home-workers watch interior design programmes during the day – that’s far too obvious.

The truth is that ‘busy work’ is so damaging because you often don’t know you don’t know you’re doing it.

Simon's new (home) office dog

Simon’s new (home) office dog

Teleworking odyssey

Luckily, before I started working from home for the first time this summer, I had an inkling that there was something murky to be discovered once I was let loose in my own home, so I armed myself with Prolifiko for a month to kickstart my teleworking odyssey.

I knew what a great tool it was for professional writers, so why not apply the principles to my new working environment?

This proved to be perhaps the best decision I made that month – it certainly wasn’t deciding to get a whippet puppy at the same time.

And do you know what? It worked beautifully – it helped me make the transition from 20 years in an office to working from home, it made me be productive and make meaningful process every day, and it kept me a little bit saner than I might have been had I been left to my own devices.

Here’s how it made the difference:

  1. Taking away the secrets – By sharing your goals with Prolifiko, and admitting your failings and challenges, then you take away the space secrets need to nest themselves into your working life. Once that space is taken up with the things you should be doing, then raiding the freezer to eat a tub of ice cream becomes that much harder
  2. Breaking down the burden – You will have one overarching goal – mine was to research and write a detailed global marketing plan – and then you can break this down into manageable tasks on a daily or weekly basis. For example, I set myself a short-term goal of writing a slide deck to present a 100-day plan. Once the deadline was in place, it is very difficult to avoid
  3. Order out of chaos – By writing down your goals and tasks and having it presented online on a cool-looking website, it is much easier to dodge than if it was on a post-it note or in a notebook where it can be scribbled out or even ignored
  4. Problem shared – Prolifiko acts as a ‘third place’ where you know other people have gone through the same challenges and heartaches, but have come through the other side. The reminders of others’ stories and interactions online make working from home much less lonely – another little secret people fail to tell you about teleworking
  5. Achievement squared – Fundamentally, people like to achieve things, no matter how small. The process allows you to gain badges and virtually pat you on the back when you accomplish what you set out to do. This is huge for homeworkers, as there is no one there to do that sat at your kitchen table.

All told, Prolifiko can be easily adapted to most work-based processes and environments with a little imagination.

So why should writers have all the fun? If you need to get stuff done and require a helping hand, give Prolifiko a try.

Who knows, you might achieve something (and still eat Scooby Doo sandwiches while you’re at it).

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