Working From Home

I have written before about my workflow, and I recently read with interest how Skribit founder and blogger Paul Stamatiou was set up now he is working at home, all of which prompted me to write about my own ‘working pattern’. Now I know many will think that I am not quaified as I don’t exactly hold down a full time job, but you would be wrong ……. not about the full time job bit obviously, but about the fact that I have effectively worked from home since 1995.

Let me get the main point out in the open straight away. To call it ‘working at home’ is in my view totally wrong. By definition that means that you are effectively replacing the set up and structure of the office in your home, effectively swapping a secure prison for an open prison, an improvement yes, but still a prison.

It took me about 5 years to realise that the real ‘trick’ was to set the mind and physical attributes around the concept of ‘working from home’. By making the home the base from which you work you can really benefit from the added flexibility and freedom that it provides.

Possibly the biggest issue people have with working at home is the loneliness and feeling of isolation. With more and more communication options on offer this is now an even bigger double edged sword. We can communicate with more people than ever before, yet never have to leave our homes!

Work Space

First up make sure that you have a good work space (obvious really), but dont be stuck to it like glue!!! With mobile phones, wireless Internet etc there is no reason to be stuck in one place all day. When I have had an office I have always ensured that I had a good area away from the desk to sit without the distractions of the desk. I would never for example have a meeting or discussion sat behind my desk but would always walk over to a seating area. As such I try and make the most of the space in the apartment, go out for coffee and chat, even just take the MBP down into the marina for a couple of hours to do emails etc.

The main thing though is to make the most of the opportunity working at home gives you. The obvious benefit is the ability to break away from the ‘9 to 5’ office mentality (substitute your countries work pattern there). Looks like a nice morning for a walk, or a coffee with a friend? Take it!!! Need to get over a hangover? Have a lie in! Fancy a movie on the sofa one afternoon? Go for it!

Now you may think this is irresponsible, but in fact it is anything but! Trust yourself (or educate yourself) to have the maturity ‘to get the job done’, and look after your mind and body at the same time. Without the structure and pressure of the office there is no need to cram things into previous boundaries, no need to rush around; work when you feel productive, relax when you don’t.

By way of example let me give you a ‘typical day’ for me:

  • Generally when I wake up I grab the iPhone and check through Twitter, email, RSS, blog comments etc. I do this to get a feel for the immediacy of anything that has come in over night.
  • Next up I check out Things on the iPhone, again to see what I have scheduled for the day, and combined with the above I tend to work out a structure for the day
  • Generally I like to take some time in the mornings to do any exercise (not a lot of that taking place at the moment), play with the cats, sort stuff out around the apartment. The reason for this is that a) Sands tends to go out (Stray Cats, Gym, Coffee with the girls) in the morning, b) the cats are at their most active in the morning, and c) a lot of my daily contact online is with people on a US time zone. The point here is that I have adapted to the realities that it is hard to get much done in the morning, and the fact I work from home allows me to do this. No point taking 3 hours to do a 30 minute task because of the inevitable interuptions
  • Around 12 I tend to knuckle down and do a good three hours before lunch. During this time Sands is back, the cats are asleep, Spain is getting ready for its sleep/siesta, the UK is at lunch, and the US isn’t really awake yet so it works out as a really productive time.
  • Lunch tends to be around 3, after which will watch some TV, maybe watch a movie, have a siesta
  • If I need to see my local clients I do so early evening, or as we call it in Spain, the afternoon i.e. 5pm – 8pm! It is a good time to go out for a coffee, or a couple of glasses of wine, and then if the mood takes can stay out and get some food, or come back for a light snack.
  • More often than not I will spend the evening on social networking sites, often via the iPhone or sometimes the MBP, but nearly always on the sofa in the lounge half watching some TV.

No two days are the same, but that is the beauty of working from home.

Addicted To Screens!

I can see why it wouldn’t work for everybody, but if you do have the opportunity or the need try working from home rather than at home!

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  1. Sounds very similar to my situation! (Without the booze. Unfortunately, my meds prevent me from imbibing. Good and Bad. Good, more money in pocket and no hangovers. Bad, there’s NOTHING like a really good red wine. Nothing.)
    Anyway, business. My problem is that my computer setup happens to be in my bedroom. (Until I can get an extra 50K to finish basement.)

    I believe that if you have a home office to do actual work in, it should be separate like yours is, or there will be too many distractions to the point of non-productiveness. At least for me, it’s a mindset. If I’m in a work environment, I work. If I’m not, it’s too easy for me to play. Now not knocking down playing! But again, for me, it’s very difficult to distinguish between the two and I often find myself drifting from what I should be doing, simply because it’s easy to do so.

    To work from home, you have to be very organized and very disciplined. Obviously you are, to a degree ;). I personally find it very difficult. (So it’s a good thing that my work isn’t mandatory! 🙂 ) Of course, it makes it very easy for me, because come 2pm, I’m out like a light!

  2. I have gone a step further to avoid distractions as well. If you look at the second photo I normally work on the two large screens, attached to the Mac Pro. I have set the MBP up with an old 17″ Sony as a dual screen and I use that for twitter, iChat, Skype, Adium so I don’t have the distractions in front of me, and my closing the lid on the MBP I just switch them all off …. so far has worked really well.

    It does sound like you should get that MBP though …… dual screen in the bedroom, flexibility to sit on the sofa and surf etc

  3. WORKflow, WORKspace, WORKing from home. Is not the key word ‘work’? Not much of that going on there amongst all of that psychobabble.;-)

    My workflow is this. Get up have breakfast, work all day with lunch on the hoof, stop work when it gets dark. Job’s a good un.

    Want to swap?


  4. [quote comment=”128990″]
    Want to swap?


    YES!! Of course, we have to swap health, also. I’d do anything to be able to do any kind of manual labor again.

  5. I tried “working” from home, unfortunately I think my mistake was that I was trying to be a baby sitter as well. Working from home is not for everyone, and I think it requires a lot self discipline, and self control. It is definitely not for everyone. I think Chris, that your situation is very unique in this regard. Personally I’m not sure if I would be able to do this.

  6. That wouldn’t work at all. As I said above I can’t really get much done in the mornings when the cats want attention. Also even after all these years Sands sort of forgets I am working and just wanders in talking and chatting whenever she feels like it …..

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