Sunday, March 25, 2012

Since forever

I was at the bank recently. I was asked for my employment due to the nature of my visit. I was asked how long I've been in that line of work. "Since forever" was my response. The women working with me laughed and looked for my date of birth. "I've been doing banking since the year you were born, you've been working total since 2005!".

It's felt like forever. I've been doing computer / web work way before I've had an official job out of college in 2005. Since like 13 I've been developing. Classes in high school. Classes in college. Side projects. Then finally official work.

It has been forever, and I have a long way to go till retirement. However, when I retire, I can't image at this point doing anything else in my free time alone. That might change as I get old, and prefer free time spent on a beach, boat, or with my family. But for now, I'll will be doing this (being development, computing, the web, etc) forever.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Working from home, a year later

It has been almost a year now since I've been working from home. A few times during the year, I've had ideas on writing up recent changes to my life, but I've chosen to wait until now to really write out the changes. The following is a simple break down for anyone interested in what it is like working from home, or wanting to compare their home experience with mine.

Time online

Working from home causes me to be online more that I thought I would be. There is less downtime to and from work. Less interruptions from in person visitors, shorter lunch breaks, more productivity multitasking during calls. Less team collaboration, more heads down focus, more time to think about my work.

Attention span during meetings

For whatever reason, during calls, I cannot pay attention any longer due to multitasking. Unless directly involved, I usually have no idea whats going on and have to ask for questions to be repeated. Personally, I've come to think that meetings in general are not productive unless solving a problem and the invitees have a direct stake in the decisions being made. Otherwise, write it down.

Range of motion / health

I move a lot less than if I were going into work. I dont walk up and down steps to get to certain floors, I dont walk to my car in the parking lot. I sit way more than I should. I try to stand while I work and work out, but in general I am lazy, so I dont work out or stand. I get out of my seat a lot. This was a normal habit while I was in an office. I would always get up, walk around, get another coffee. I do the same at home. I go down into my kitchen, I walk outside and look around. You can't sit all day, or you will die.

For my health, I am definitely less active in the winter. I used to walk couple times a week on the park trails and lift weights in the warmer months (more sunlight). Now I sometimes remember to work out as mentioned. I change chairs that I sit in every once and awhile to give my body something new. I eat house food for lunch rather than eating out. I do miss getting lunch with coworkers.

I've cut back my coffee intake while at home. One might think it's easier to drink more. Well coffee was free at my last job and I was way overboard. I've cut back to half.

I wear my glasses over contact lenses giving my eyes a break.

Driving abilities

The few times I'd had to drive during rush hour have allowed me to reflect on my driving abilities. I am less confident and would rather drive during less busy times. The stress isn't worth it.

Costs / Money

You might think its cheaper working from home. I spend less money on gas for my car, less miles on my car so less maintenance, less miles means less insurance. I also have to heat and cool my home to normal temperatures now since I am home. In the summer when nobody was home, the AC would jump to like 78 and then down to 73 later when I got back. Same with heat, used to be like 60 when I was gone, 68 when I got back. Now the AC runs steady, so does the heat at livable temperatures. I also use my own water and electricity all day. So it balances out I think.

I don't use my cell phone much anymore. I use my Google voice number for calls online. Sometimes I use my land line when the voice number rings for work. Otherwise, conference calls always have computer headset capabilities. I bought a simple wired headset for this, the trick is that muting and un-muting calls is not as easy as a button click on a physical desk phone.

For whatever reason, I have a laundry and dish problem I need to solve. It's just me and my wife and the dishwasher runs every other day and we do laundry twice a week. I have no idea why. I have "house clothes" now, which are outfits that are suitable only for home, and not appropriate for public. I wear these same clohes week after week.


Yes I sleep in now. I used to wake up as I would a normal job, shower, get dressed and go to work. That took about 9 months to go away. Something with the new year caused me to stop setting my alarm to wake up and its been a nice change just waking up naturally. Yes I can leave the house whenever, work where ever and whenever. I run to the store if I need to for breaks, no issues taking off for the doctors. I can make up my time whenever as long as it's in when ready, so being online from 9 to 5 doesn't really matter. I cut the grass during the middle of the day normally. Start dinner around 4:30 and go back to work when done.

On Fridays, I have a beer while working towards the end of the day. This is usually when I am entering my time for the week and tying up loose ends.

Side activities

Yes I have more time to blog, tweet, and get involved in side projects to keep me busy. I can even do this during the day. I thought I would be inspired to startup some major idea or little side company, but I've been enjoying the time to myself that I get back with my new job (it's a steady 40 usually).


"Don't you get distracted by family or your wife?" Some, but it's good to break up the day and get out of the chair. Normally, I wouldn't be home and couldn't help someone move or carry something. You might think this is a terrible distraction and then get angry because "you are at work". I suggest just going with it, you are home, you won't be able to avoid this.

I try to go out and work somewhere else at least once a week (other than my house). I have a few buddies that we meet up at a coffee shop and work together. If you don't have buddies, or nobody is available, just go somewhere. Or go to your parent's house.

Internet and bandwidth

One downside with working virtual is sharing large files. We usually upload to Amazon S3 or put USB drives in the mail. My home internet is nothing great so sometimes file transfers set me back. I usually have to wait until night or over the weekend to resume transfers. I've wanted to update my internet package, while at the same time reducing my bill, so it hasn't really happened yet.


In summary, the number one perk is freedom (convenience), the number one downside is relying on my internet upload bandwidth.

Some advice, don't take a job just to work from home, it not everything, it's a perk. I enjoy what I do so working from home makes it better. You can't make a bad job better just because you aren't in the office.

If it matters, I live in the northeast region of Ohio. I could work anywhere, but my family is here, so I haven't considered moving anywhere warmer yet. Maybe one day, but I like where I live.

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