Work-at-Home Plus/Delta

plus-delta-pic2-300x154My last post spurred some discussion on Twitter and my inbox about the pros and cons of working at home.  I decided to publish my list here.

+ (Things I like about working at home)

  • Drop the kids off at the pool” whenever you need to, and in a friendly bathroom.
  • Midday kisses from my lovely wife (and that’s it.  Nothing more.  Gotta keep up the professionalism.)
  • Get the most done when I have the most energy (early) and taper off as I lose focus (afternoon), unless I feel like caffeinating.
  • Trying out all of the cool teleconference/video chat/collaboration tools I’ve been reading about for years
  • Can stay up late playing “Skyrim” and it doesn’t affect anyone else (except maybe the barista the next morning)

△ (Things I would change if I could)

  • Temptations… all of the temptations: Netflix, Hulu, iTunes Radio, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn…
  • The guilt I feel about leaving the 97 boys that I most recently taught
  • The feeling that I’m “always on” and my own difficulty switching out of work mode
  • The way I can’t seem to go more than an hour without a bathroom break
  • The look others give you when you say, “I work from home now”.  It’s half jealousy and half this:


The Bottom Line?  I don’t want my Work-at-Home experience to play out like The Oatmeal predicts.

Education, Technology

My Work-from-Home Rules

My newly renovated "work cave"
My newly renovated “work cave”

My work environment has recently changed in a HUGE way.  After 12 years as a classroom teacher, I am now working from home and traveling all over the state working with teachers.  It’s that first location–my home–that has really inspired me to create a set of personal expectations.  I’ve found, in just a few weeks, that sticking to these rules makes my time much more productive.

As a disclaimer, these rules are my own and they work for me.  Others may find these too restrictive or no structured enough.  If that’s you, tell me in the comments.

  1. Stick to a schedule.  I decided early on to get up each morning at the same time and end my work at the same time each day.  I find that this keeps at bay the temptation to sleep in and waste a perfect morning.
  2. Exercise.  I have never been a guy who gets regular exercise.  Now, however, I can’t use any of the reasons that I once did because I make my own schedule.  So, I make a point of getting out of bed at the same time I used to when I was going to school.  I spend the first hour with some physical activity (walking, jogging, a seven-minute workout, etc.) and then I take a shower and start my day.
  3. Eat lunch.  During my most recent year of teaching, I often skipped lunch because I just didn’t have time.  Now, my biggest problem is that I snack a lot.  To combat this, I started a habit of taking a break at lunchtime, going downstairs to the kitchen, and making myself some lunch.  It gives me a nice Facebook/Twitter/feed-reading break, too.
  4. Work the Pomodoro.  I recently heard about the Pomodoro Technique from a friend, and I’ve started using it to keep me productive.  In essence, I work on a task for 20 minutes, and then I take a mandated 5 minute break.  I decide how many “pomodoros” each task will take and I try to complete it in less.  It actually works.
  5. Kiss the wife.  Okay, not everyone gets this perk.  My wife runs a daycare out of our home during the day, so I generally avoid leaving my “work cave” when I have a lot to do.  But when I complete a big task, or finish a phone call/video conference, I usually take a walk downstairs and steal a smooch from the Mrs.  It keeps me grounded.  And, I don’t think that she minds, either.

I’m sure that list will grow as I learn more of the pitfalls of working from home, but my level of productivity and sanity are stabilizing in a good place, thanks to the structure that these rules bring to my workplace.

What’s your system?