Why Two Keyboards Are Better Than One

Creating work-life balance with mental state triggers

I have only sat in the same office as my manager for five months in the last four years. My teams have always stretched across the globe, and I have travelled a lot. But until recently, I wasn’t spending too much time developing my business, so there was less of a need to isolate my corporate work life.

But since starting this new brand, my thoughts often jump between creating product plans for my corporate gig and my brand like a game of pong. Therefore, the last 12 months have pushed me to test a way to build mental walls between the two work worlds to focus on the work at hand.

two keyboards

Photo by Cristi Goia on Unsplash

?Physical Triggers the Mental

If you haven’t already, please read James Clear’s Atomic Habits as it is a good foundation for productive habit building. I read the book many years ago. Revisiting my notes last year when thinking of solutions to this problem led me to Cue #2 for good habit-forming: location. The environment that you put yourself in can help trigger a mental state required for a particular response.

“In my opinion, location (i.e. environment) is the most powerful driver of mindless habits and also the least recognized. In many cases, our habits and behaviors are simply a response to the environment that surrounds us.” -James Clear

To this end, I looked at my current habit of starting work (at that point living in a small Hong Kong apartment) and realized that I was spending 90% of my working hours on the couch. The same sofa that I use to relax. So for the next six months leading up to my move to Copenhagen, I forced myself to work from the table. Working from the table required me to unfold the table (it was collapsible because Hong Kong = tiny everything), get a chair, and sit straight up. Over the months, this became engrained so much that as soon as I completed this process every morning, I was immediately in work mode. Win.

✈What Changed After the Move

Fast forward to 2021, and I am starting to develop a personal brand for which I use my personal PC. I was so excited to have the space to have a full-fledged office that I built a massive desk and lined up my work laptop and personal PC screens. I even got this switcher where I could put my headphones and keyboard into, and with one click, I could route them to my corporate PC or my personal PC. Sweet setup. ✨?

One month in, I realized that I was always staring at both my corporate PC and my personal PC together. A notification from one would distract the other. Ugh, the sweet setup of efficient technology failed.

So last month I decided to create two complete workstations, on the same desk. Given that it would be super impractical to have two chairs at the same desk, I decided that the best way to create two environments would be through peripherals. The below photos show a full keyboard and gaming headset for my personal PC and a laptop keyboard and earbuds for the corporate world.

Personal PC (top) and Work OC (bottom) — Photos by


?Results Were as Expected

This two-desk setup had an immediate effect. Paired with the Pomodoro time management, I find it super easy to switch from one to the other. There is a different feel to typing. The different headphones feel and sound different. Add in a 90-degree direction change, and you get enough of a trigger to focus on one section of life at a time.

If you are still struggling to segregate work and personal life, look at your environment and get creative. Everyone can find ways to tweak their environments, even if it is as simple as having two different keyboards!

#habit #Productivity #work #technology #mind