Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Working from Home: What Works for Me

I shower every morning.
I even mostly get dressed in clothes I could wear outside - except shoes. Fuzzy slippers til summer.
I like to make my coffee and start drinking it as I sit down at my work computer. Maybe I should make it earlier so that I'm more awake when I start work, but I feel like I already waste a lot of time in the mornings, waking up slowly.

I have a work desk and a work laptop. I have a separate home desk with a mac mini and a big monitor (it's also my tv.) I also have a personal laptop, which feels a bit decadent these days, but I still take it with me to hack days and such. And use it to play videos while I fold laundry. True story.

I never do anything at the work desk besides work. The work desk has an external monitor on an arm, which can be raised to standing height, and I have a vintage bread box that is the perfect height to hold a keyboard and trackpad when I stand. But honestly, mostly I sit and type at my laptop while most of the windows are on the big monitor above and behind it. (Video conferencing is usually the only thing that goes in the laptop screen, which works well for me appearing to look at the camera.) I have an Aeron chair I got years ago when the startup I was working at closed their local office.

I have a mental list of things I can do during my lunch break to get out. Sometimes I make it a physical list if I notice I have been doing a bad job of getting out. I go to the library, go get groceries, have lunch dates with people, go buy coffee beans. I live where I can walk to all those things. I especially try to go out at lunch if I don't have evening plans.

I have a coworking group that meets every week or two for a morning or afternoon. It's good to regularly see other people be frustrated with computers. Also they are just wonderful people and I love getting to see them.

I generally work 8:30-5:30 with about an hour's lunch. I try not to stress if I'm not quite hitting those hours. There are days where I'll be in the flow and be productive til 6 or a bit later. It turns out that if I've had a day that felt useless, sitting at the computer longer that day doesn't make it better.

At the end of the work day, I put the work laptop to sleep. I do not have my work email on my phone. I don't even have my real email on my phone, I just use the webclient. I mostly only want to do email when I am sitting down at a desk with a keyboard. Also my phone is always on silent. ( I do usually notice if it is buzzing. Usually.)

I really like the days when I have yoga or something right after work. (Lately, I've been sitting in on a class, which also succeeds at getting me to STOP THINKING ABOUT WORK.) Having a sharp break from work desk and work worries helps me stop thinking about it, and then I can go on and think about something else. But having something where I have to think or be social directly after doesn't work well for me. I can be social later in the evening, but that works best if I have some time to just sit on the couch and let my brain do nothing, 20-30 minutes is usually enough.

When I do have great work ideas outside of work hours, I write a note and drop it on my work desk or I send an email to my work address. Usually these are not too cryptic to understand the next day.

Bonus: Making your own Reaction Gifs

It's silly, but it's a fun way to be more "visible". And it takes just a few minutes once you get the hang of it.
First, record a video in Photo Booth. Click the video to select it, choose trim in the bar right over the record button. Clip it down to just the bits you want. (Click the checkmark to accept your edits)

Open it in Gif Brewery Easiest way to open your Photo Booth video is to drag it from the Photo Booth set (at the bottom) to the open dialogue for GIF Brewery. You can play your video in GIF Brewery, but it looks like you need to drag the cursor back to the beginning to play it again. You probably want to crop it a little: save on space, get rid of unnecessary background. Hit Create GIF in the upper right corner of the app to save. A good way to minimize size is to turn on "reduce number of colors in gif" (found in GIF Properties) and resizing the gif to a smaller size. (Thanks to Tristan for some of these tips.)

1 comment:

  1. This was wonderful, thank you. Here's an attempt at a command-line version for reaction gifs that allows you to make them much faster (terrifying my coworkers) and from having to look down at the end in Photo Booth:

    sleep 1 ; wacaw --duration 2 --video x && ffmpeg -i x.avi -pix_fmt gray -r 10 -s 160x120 xb.gif && convert -layers Optimize xb.gif x.gif