Tuesday, August 09, 2011

My New Telecommuting Basics

Now that I'm out of CubeWorldTM and embarking again on my favorite way to work, from home, I'm going to implement some new practices that I hope will make me better at this.


Exercise before work.
I may check emails, but I'm not going to "start working" until I've taken care of me first. There is a tendency when working from home to simply always be working. You can't do that. I will get coffee, walk, bike or swim, grab breakfast and all the other normal things a person does before "going to work."

Shower and get dressed.
This sounds easy, right? But it's easy to neglect a proper wardrobe when working from home. The people in the office joke, "Dave's working in his pajamas," and they're sort of correct. It's also easy to forget to shower. I used to just put on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt and hit the computer with my morning coffee and let the work start slamming me. I'd shower whenever the day allowed. Now I plan on putting on normal, casual work clothes, perhaps even some shoes. After I shower.

Stay in their face.
"Out of sight, out of mind" is all too often how the home office thinks of the person far away. Email and the phone isn't enough. With my new iPhone 4, I'll be Facetiming with my colleagues and Skyping them as soon as I've moved my computer to a better location, one without my bed as the background image.

Get the computer out of the bedroom.
Since I'm an old-school desktop computer guy, never comfortable only using a laptop, I need a desk of sorts. If your bedroom is where you work, then your work is sitting there, reminding you of it when you're supposed to be in bed, relaxing. Likewise, if your bed is there while you work, it will start begging you to take a nap or stretch out and read a book. It's just not that healthy. Make an office. "But I don't have enough room in my place!" Quit your whining and figure something out.

Take a lunch.
Don't just make a lunch and bring it to your desk. Your colleagues are taking an hour, an hour and a half, going off to Chipoltle or that new sushi place. You are allowed an hour. Step away. Recharge. Stretch your neck. Take a swim.

Be comfortable.
Speaking of stretching your neck, mine was starting to hurt after a few months in the Cubes (plus that two-hour round-trip commute) and I finally got on the stand-up desk bandwagon. I mean, really, how healthy is it for us to sit in our cars, or on the subway or train for an hour, and then go sit for eight hours at a desk? I'm pretty sure this is not the best thing for the human form. So I bought one. I'll put it together this weekend. And since it has wheels, I plan on having it outdoors on occasion, once the stifling, summer Hellscape has cooled.

Set a stopping point.
I love how these agencies talk about their long hours, fueled by pizza and foosball (Oh! SIGN ME UP!) and how they sometimes work weekends! You guys go on and do that. I'll be knocking off when the day is done, which is to say about 5:30 in the home office's time zone. Sure, there will be projects that require extra hours and some weekends, but the shop that makes that a habit is a shabbily run shop that will burn its people out.

That's all I can think of right now. I think we're good. I will be doing well if I have the discipline to execute this strategy. If anyone else out there has ideas, toss them into the comments section.

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