The Ruby Freelancers Show 046 – Working Locations
Panel Eric Davis (twitter github blog) Evan Light (twitter github blog) Charles Max Wood (twitter github Teach Me To Code Rails Ramp Up) Discussion 01:28 - Working From Home Distractions Environment 07:35 - Pros of Working From Home Animals Purr Programming 2.0: Lance Gleason Schedule/Flexibility Naps Deliveries/Home Repairs Commute 11:57 - Focus & Productivity Renting an Office 14:22 - Cons of Working From Home Office Neighbors/Noise Pollution Furnishing an Office Cabin Fever 22:37 - Working in an Office Social Outlet Others’ Opinions 25:31 - Overcoming Distractions Family Comes First Making up Time 29:54 - Staying on Task Shifting your Work Set Hours Pomodoring Setting Boundaries 37:35 - Fixed Number of Hours xkcd: Ballmer Peak Picks Hydrofarm Thirsty Light (Chuck) Powermat Power Dual 1200 Rechargeable Backup Battery (Chuck) PVC Pipe in Plants (Eric) iPad Mini (Evan) Transcript ERIC: Replace Chuck with a recording robot. [Are you a busy Ruby developer who wants to take their freelancing business to the next level? Interested in working smarter not harder? Then check out the upcoming book “Next Level Freelancing - Developer Edition Practical Steps to Work Less, Travel and Make More Money”. It includes interviews and case studies with successful freelancers, who have made a killing by expanding their consultancy, develop passive income through informational products, build successful SaaS products, and become rockstar consultants making a minimum of $200/hour. There are all kinds of practical steps on getting started and if you sign up now, you’ll get 50% off when it’s released. You can find it at nextlevelfreelancing.com][hosting and bandwidth provided by the blue box group. check them out at bluebox.net] CHUCK: Hey everybody and welcome to Episode 46 of the Ruby Freelancer Show! This week on our panel, we have Eric Davis. ERIC: Hello! CHUCK: Evan Light. EVAN: Hi! CHUCK: And I'm Charles Max Wood from devchat.tv. This week we're going to be talking about Working Locations. I've had a few people talk to me in the past, when I tell them that I'm a freelancer and that I work from home, they just look at me like "How do you do that? How do you deal with all the distractions? I mean, I'd just go and e-pop corner in front of the TV all day or something”. And so I thought we could talk about the work locations, some of the pros and cons, and how you deal with distractions and things like that. So, I tend to work from. I know that Eric, you usually work from home as well, right? ERIC: Yeah. Like maybe one or two days set up a year, I might not work from home. But I'm here; this is where I'm at. CHUCK: Yeah. And Evan, you used to work from home, didn't you? EVAN: I did until about 2 months ago, and then I rented an office. CHUCK: Alright. Did you just go with like an executive suite type thing or -- EVAN: Well, yeah. I went on craze list. Well I looked around a lot, but ultimately I went on craze list and found a small -- a local realtor who is leasing by the room and just basically got a room that I came equipped with a desk and internet and power and what not. Grabbed my Aeron chair and there it was, and computer was good to go. CHUCK: Yeah that's what they have out here, I don't know if it's just the term out here, but they call them executive suites. Basically, you're renting like a room and then you get access to the conference room when you need it, and the building furnishes power, that kind of stuff. EVAN: I don't think we have a term for it out here because that would imply that we have enough civilization to come up with terms like that. CHUCK: [laughs] Yeah. Adobe built a huge building that's right outbuy where most of those suites are out here. So, I'm kind of curious as to what your experiences been working from home you guys.
ERIC: Replace Chuck with a recording robot. [Are you a busy Ruby developer who wants to take their freelancing business to the next level? Interested in working smarter not harder? Then check out the upcoming book “Next Level Freelancing - Developer Edition Practical Steps to Work Less, Travel and Make More Money”. It includes interviews and case studies with successful freelancers, who have made a killing by expanding their consultancy, develop passive income through informational products, build successful SaaS products, and become rockstar consultants making a minimum of $200/hour. There are all kinds of practical steps on getting started and if you sign up now, you’ll get 50% off when it’s released. You can find it at nextlevelfreelancing.com] [Hosting and bandwidth provided by the Blue Box Group. Check them out at bluebox.net] CHUCK: Hey everybody and welcome to Episode 46 of the Ruby Freelancer Show! This week on our panel, we have Eric Davis. ERIC: Hello! CHUCK: Evan Light. EVAN: Hi! CHUCK: And I'm Charles Max Wood from devchat.tv. This week we're going to be talking about Working Locations. I've had a few people talk to me in the past, when I tell them that I'm a freelancer and that I work from home, they just look at me like "How do you do that? How do you deal with all the distractions? I mean, I'd just go and e-pop corner in front of the TV all day or something”. And so I thought we could talk about the work locations, some of the pros and cons, and how you deal with distractions and things like that. So, I tend to work from. I know that Eric, you usually work from home as well, right? ERIC: Yeah. Like maybe one or two days set up a year, I might not work from home. But I'm here; this is where I'm at. CHUCK: Yeah. And Evan, you used to work from home, didn't you? EVAN: I did until about 2 months ago, and then I rented an office. CHUCK: Alright. Did you just go with like an executive suite type thing or -- EVAN: Well, yeah. I went on craze list. Well I looked around a lot, but ultimately I went on craze list and found a small -- a local realtor who is leasing by the room and just basically got a room that I came equipped with a desk and internet and power and what not. Grabbed my Aeron chair and there it was, and computer was good to go. CHUCK: Yeah that's what they have out here, I don't know if it's just the term out here, but they call them executive suites. Basically, you're renting like a room and then you get access to the conference room when you need it, and the building furnishes power, that kind of stuff. EVAN: I don't think we have a term for it out here because that would imply that we have enough civilization to come up with terms like that. CHUCK: [laughs] Yeah. Adobe built a huge building that's right outbuy where most of those suites are out here. So, I'm kind of curious as to what your experiences been working from home you guys. Did you find it that hard to focus on work or what? ERIC: No. At first I was nervous but it kind of came naturally to me. EVAN: Are you nervous or working at home? ERIC: Yes! Both! No. [laughter] ERIC: No I mean I worked, I think we talked about this before for a bit, like I found my personality; I worked better when I'm alone or I can really focus on things. And when I work with people, that's when it's more of the brainstorming aspect. So when it's like head down, get worked on, I work best when it's alone, quiet, the environment that I like which playing Pandora kind of out my desk. Whenever I tried it like head down, get worked on like at a coffee shop or a busy place like that, I'm like looking at squirrels, staring out the window, and not doing what I need to do. Squirrel! EVAN: Yeah, exactly. CHUCK: Yeah. My experience is a little bit different, but I have this tendency and I don't know if it's something that I get from my mum. Because my mum, she'll start reading a book, a novel, and like you can walk up and be screaming at her, and she won't hear you. Anyway, I have that tendency as well, to just look at things and be able to tune them out. And so I can go work at the coffee shop, or the restaurant over here, or I can work in my office; I have the ability to more or less tune it out. The thing that I like about working in my office is that I can run my music and things like that. I can kind of set up more of an environment, but sometimes I need a change, or pace, or a change of scenenery. Even though I'm focused on codes and tuning things out at the restaurant, I don't know what it is, but just the freshness of change just kind of gives me that little extra inspiration or whatever. EVAN: I totally get that. When I did work at home, and I did it for mostly 4 years, occasionally I would find myself mentally a little stuck, I guess that's the only way I can describe it. It's not like in a rut and it wasn't that I couldn't work; it was just that I felt littlest list, that I was losing momentum. And so I would go somewhere else; I would change my contacts in order to try to re-invigorate myself. And that would often work or sometimes a little coffee wouldn't hurt either. ERIC: Yeah caffeine always helps [laughs] EVAN: Not always depends on if you're really tired to begin with. But anyway, I don't tend to find or I didn't tend to find working at home difficult for the first several years. I've done it a little bit before back in the late 90's, too. Having relatively complete control over my work environment makes it easy for me to customize it in the way that makes it easy for me to work. And the catch is having relatively complete control over the work environment. So blasting music as Chuck was saying would be one thing, or maybe if I'd need a complete silence of the house, [inaudible] I could put on headphones with some white noise, and that would be close enough. At least there'd be no distraction, no auditory distractions. But then I've mentioned in a podcast before as my wife has gotten more ill, working at home has become difficult for other reasons. I'm quite want to go into it, I just don't think that we're quite there yet in this conversation. I'll top more better later. CHUCK: Yeah that makes sense. And I think that's really the kicker, is how much control you have over your environment. ERIC: I think so. I think so. CHUCK: Yeah I mean my kids, they know not to come in here when I'm working and my wife keeps them downstairs or lets them go play in their rooms, but it's pretty non-intrusive. I mean my office which is just a bedroom in my house and I'd just shut the door, and that's good enough. So yeah, that makes a lot of sense. But sometimes it gets loud over here. My wife babysits other kids, and sometimes there are like 3 or 4 or 5 extra kids here, and I have to leave. EVAN: You knew what you do then? CHUCK: Then I'd just go to the restaurant or whatever. I have a restaurant -- EVAN: You escape the house, right. Okay I get that. When one of the caregivers would bring maybe a child or your daughter or granddaughter over, that's usually when (or sometimes) when I would have to escape the house. Because if they were rowdy, there is no calming a kid down. So either I stay and deal with it or I'd just go somewhere else where I don't have to, so better done that. CHUCK: Yup. So I mean again, it just comes down to "there's no way that I can get what I need here, so I'll go somewhere else". EVAN: Right. You can't control that, go somewhere else, or maybe you have a little -- you can choose another place and that choice is control. CHUCK: Yup. What were the things you guys liked about being working from home? Or like, I guess. ERIC: Cats. CHUCK: Cats? Really. [Eric laughs] EVAN: Per programmers. CHUCK: Does it really make a difference? ERIC: I'll link to per programming, but for programmers? CHUCK: Oh per programmers. Is it nice having the animals around? I mean we don't have any pets here so -- EVAN: They can be a little distracting, a little bit like kids because sometimes they decide when they want attention, not necessarily matter when you want to give them attention. At the same time, I found that often when my cats want attention, it's not bad for me to give it to them because it distracts me sometimes when I really need it. And having pets around are stress relief. And working on a job or you're thinking intensely many hours a day can be stressful. So I find it kind of relaxing that way. CHUCK: What about you, Eric? ERIC: For me having cats is actually the hindsight of working at home. I've never been a big cat person then; our cats are just, they're crazy like literally...just, they're crazy. But we have a dog and she's actually on a pillow right on our desk. And I can actually to be in any part of the house tell her "go to work", and she'll run up and run on the pillow in the office. So having her around is nice because it kind of does give me a break. And if there's a delivery, she goes running to the front door so I'll go and get the package or whatever. EVAN: See your problems with the cat is probably just you don't have your wireless router some place where the cat can wye on it. [Chuck laughs] ERIC: No. The problem with the cats is one cat doesn't know how to retract her claws, so when she runs across the carpet it's [making a sound]... [Chuck laughs] ERIC: And the other cat thinks he's a tiger and is actually completely vicious and can throw blood. CHUCK: Did I say you could be in my house? You can't be in my house! Get out of my way! ERIC: Yeah. He's woken us up by jumping in our bed and butting us until we wake. And by the time we're woken up, our arms or face is bloody. Yeah. CHUCK: Oh geez! EVAN: Before I found myself working on a stricter schedule, I might have mentioned before. I have to kind of keep kind of regular hours even though I'm a freelancer because it's a matter of when I can get caregivers here to look after my wife. Before I did that, one of the nice things about working at home was being able to take a nap when I would start to peed her out. Then I could just take a nap if I got too tired, get up after I was all rested, and resume working, it wouldn't be a problem. But now when I do that that just means I get less worked on a day because I only have maybe an 8 or 9 hour window total to work with it. CHUCK: Yeah, I definitely like the option of having a nap. ERIC: Yeah, I don't nap that much, I probably should, but the flexibility for that is nice. Because I've had some people come out for home repairs and so they give you like a 8-hour window when they'll be there. And I'm just here working and then when they show up I'd take a break, help them, when they're done -- EVAN: That's actually another awesome thing about being home. Just the rare "someone's going to deliver something" or you've got a "fix-it guy" coming over or something like that, you were round up for them to be there, otherwise, there's often no one home, right? ERIC: Right. And its kind of another side is...if I'm sick at home, I'd just stay in bed. And if my wife's sick, I'm at home working, but if she needs help I can go help her and get stuff for her [inaudible]. So it's nice to have that flexibility, but there's been times where my wife's been sick or just home from a holiday, and it's like I want to go run away to go work but I can't. EVAN: For me, other nice things, not spending money on gasoline, the 30-second commute from the bed, that's like computer gas. CHUCK: One of the thing that I want to bring up that's very much along the lines of what Eric brought up was just that my wife sometimes will have things going on that she needs to go do, and so she just comes, sticks her head in here and says "I'm leaving, the kids are in bed" or "I'm leaving, the kids are watching a movie", and she can just go. And then if the kids know at that point "Mum's not here, so if I need something, I need to go get Dad". And so it does kind of give us that there's a responsible adult, if you want to call me that, here and she can just take off and go run errands or whatever. For the most part, it just works out fine. EVAN: As long as the kids aren't too much of a distraction. CHUCK: Yeah. But most of the time, if they're watching a movie, especially if they're having a nap, they're not coming in here. EVAN: So yeah, this is where I get to the point where it's easier -- wants me to bring up. One of the reasons I got an office or one of the few is -- I guess we should start with one of the reasons I got caregivers is because my wife wouldn't know when to distract me and when not to because of her disease, it just wouldn't occur to her. She felt like there was something she needed to tell me, she would just tell me. The caregivers help to keep her distracted from that, but you sort of got closed to distract when you talk to be getting out of the house. I don't know if it's a male-on thing or human thing necessarily, but I find that we, or at least I, in view places with particular aspects often with evoke of feeling of some kind, often. And dealing with my wife's health issues gotten quite a bit worst, has been pretty painful. Going just into the next room to work doesn't get me out of that head space. And so that's one of the reasons I actually went to get an office; I needed a place with a clean slate that I could associate with being productive and focus. Because even when I could get into my office and I could put my headset on and block over noise out and just work, I couldn't get my mind back in that place even when I had control over the environment because there was just some part of me that was way down by all the other feelings attached to home. CHUCK: Yeah, that makes sense. That makes a lot of sense. EVAN: And I found that being in the office is maybe more productive. And even though, because it's just a executive suite sort of arrangement as you describe it, I have less control over the noise level. There is some other -- all the other people who work in there are very talky and it could be kind of a nuisance considering that I like [inaudible] of quiet, too, unless I have an idea I need to bounce off of people. But that's just it -- I put on my noise cancelling head phones and listen to music and code. As long as it's music that I don't have to pay much attention to, then it's just about as good. CHUCK: Yeah. I thought about getting an office, but it's just so convenient being here. EVAN: It is! CHUCK: Yeah. EVAN: This wasn't something that I really look forward to until I thought about the idea or realized it would actually make my life better. But given a choice, I would rather work at home. CHUCK: Yeah. I totally understand. So do we want to talk about some of the cons of being at home? Or maybe pros of being in an office [laughs], I guess? ERIC: Cats. [Chuck laughs] EVAN: That's what you said! I said the lack of per programmers is a bummer. Not necessarily getting to choose your officemates or the people in the offices nearby can be a bummer, too, because it only takes one bad apple to make it quite annoying. CHUCK: Yeah exactly. EVAN: So if you're looking for quite annoying, it takes one neighbor who talks all the time and loudly on the phone. CHUCK: Are you speaking from experience? Or is that totally hypothetical? EVAN: No, I'm speaking from experience. I've got two neighbors in my office space who are -- say one them is in insurance, the other one is in -- The insurance guy is always talking to people on the phone and I can't remember what the other guy's business is, but they're always talking to people on the phone. My apprentice and partner says "It sounds kind of like Wallstreet in here sometimes". You felt like you shouting out "greed is good!" or something like that. [laughter] EVAN: But he was only thinking that as far as I could tell for the same reason that I was, that he wish those guys would shut the heck up! CHUCK: Yeah. ERIC: That also happens for me because we're in kind of like a condo thing, so we have a shared walls; of shared wall in my office is the bedroom of like a college person. He lives with his family, but he's about college age. And so, there's times when he has his music up or you can hear banging because he like fell off his bed or something weird going on. I mean I've had chew nuts eat my hair, like I'm pretty quick on the mute with the microphone. And so you can so get those kind of like noise-plosions even at home. If you have like a house that's separate or if you live in the woods or it's like no one for a mile, that's probably not a problem. The noise-plosions you get is probably birds chirp, which should be nice. But depending on where you live, too, if you're like in a high-rise apartment, you might not have the kind of quiet work environment if that's what you're wanting. And if you want people talking and your neighbor is so loud, that might actually be a good thing, too. EVAN: I mean other things that are either a bummer, if you have an office which you actually have to move into it. Unfortunately that the space I moved into had most of what I needed, so I only had to move a monitor and a chair in. But if you were to get a real office, well, it's a little bit like moving and that's painful. Just moving into a tiny office was a little bit honor as actually, so if you had to furnish your own office from scratch, how? ERIC: Well, like what you talked about earlier then on the pre-call, was like "if you less something at your home and you as your office, you got to go back or make deal without it and vice versa”. If you less like your computer at the office like "Oh! It's not turned on, I can't login remotely", that's the con of that because your two places were sort of isolated. EVAN: Well if you're dependent on something in another location or...Oh shoot! Not that background noise here now. Great! But if you're dependent on something that you can't control when you get right down on it, you'll have a third party dependency. CHUCK: One thing that I want to talk about a little bit with the cons of being at home is that sometimes I feel like I never get out of this place. Feel like I'm sitting here all day and it's just like "Man! I haven't gotten out in days!" In an office, at least you have a commute. You get out, you're out doing something then come home. And it just feels like you just get some motion, you get to be out among people and stuff. And...I don't know. ERIC: What I've done is -- there's been times where I haven't left the house for a week, and that means not even like going outside to get the milk. Like I actually wouldn't leave the house because it's crunch mode or just whatever; kind of what I found that work for me is work at home during the work day. And then on the weekend, make it a point to go out both Saturday and Sunday. Not so I go out and buy anything, or go on dates or anything, but just go out and be out even if it's just a walk through the library or the walk to a coffee shop and just kind of have that social aspect. For me, I found that kind of keeps me from having cabin fever. CHUCK: Yeah. I've had that a little bit with -- I get out to go to Church every Sunday, and things like that. And if the kids are sick, my wife has a position in the Church where she's probably the one that's going to go and I'm just staying home. So there have been times where I have been in for like 10 days straight. EVAN: This is actually another reason I do like having the office. Because when I was working it at home, especially when I get really into a project, I realized I would have a whole week sometimes more than a week where I wouldn't leave the house. Partly that's because I would be working in 10 straight hours in a day, and the other part of it is because if Kim wasn't in her condition, she can leave the house and I wasn't going anywhere on the weekdays or necessarily on the weekends. So at least with the office, I get out of the house every day. I'm kind of getting into a ritual of like go out to lunch off in Chipotle. Maybe I should make that a pick. [laughter] EVAN: Go to Chipotle! CHUCK: We should get them to sponsor. EVAN: Seriously, man! What the -- [laughs]. I should get on the other "pay me to wear a shirt" or something because...Anyway, so yeah I'm at Chipotle 4 days a week. It started as ritual before I work; I go there, I get my Burrito Boy, sitting to read a book for a little, and then I'd go into the office. And it beats the being at home all the time. On the other hand, so a nice thing about being at home is having complete control over what you're eating. Because if you're outside the house, you didn't have to prepare it in advanced and bring it with you, or you're buying something. I love Chipotle, but I don't know that I could do it 7 days a week. And everything else around here is junk by the grease in terms of the healthiness of it. So if you're at home, you can make a quick salad maybe. I used to do that quite a lot. Well, you can't do that as easily in the office. CHUCK: Yeah, that's definitely a pro for that. I mean I have leftover beef stew in the fridge right now that I was going to eat for lunch today, but I just never got around having lunch because I wasn't hungry. And so probably I went up have enough for lunch tomorrow or Saturday. Yeah, it's really convenient that way. ERIC: Well what I'd like to do is I'll try the left(over) like you afterwards, but if it's like I'm cooking something, I might start cooking something and while it's cooking I'll do some chores around the house. Like do the dishes or tidy up the living room, so I can kind of kill two birds in one stone. And pretty much makes -- for our daughter, we have a cloth diaper so we have to do laundry every other day for that. And basically because I'm at home, I can do the laundry and run it. If you've done cloth diapers, you have to do a lot of washing in the washing machine. So if I did it at night, I would be up until 11 or 12 just to make sure it finishes. But starting in the morning and finishing by the afternoon, it's piece of cake! It's just like as I walk to go get some more water like "Hey I don't hear the thing running, I'm going to go put on the next cycle". So that's a nice pro for being at home as you can kind of take care of the little things here and there and maintain the house if you have a free second or two. CHUCK: I'm so not inclined toward cloth diapers; you're a better man than I am. But yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Yeah you can do all the other household stuff, too. You can start it and then ignore it. ERIC: One thing I like to do is, especially if I don't work on like a tricky problem like I may get up and kind of take a break and all pace around the house maybe go get a snack, but it's mostly just pacing. And usually by the time I go downstairs, wander through couple of rooms and come back up, I already know a solution. And so that's a nice thing. If I did that at office, people would probably look at me like I'm crazy. EVAN: Oh, not. CHUCK: [laughs] That's true. EVAN: Pacing? Nah! CHUCK: Depends on what you're doing then, I guess. ERIC: If you're pacing, mumbling to yourself, and like gesturing with your hands, yeah. [Chuck laughs] EVAN: So what you're saying is there are a lot of people who think I'm crazy. Okay got it. [laughter] CHUCK: I already knew you're crazy. EVAN: And I have your magic bag.. CHUCK: Magic bag? EVAN: That's right. That was not supposed to make sense. CHUCK: Okay. ERIC: Damn! That makes you somewhere sane, though. CHUCK: So I have to wonder a little bit. I mean I think we've all worked in the office environment where you go to work with other co-workers and you're an employee, but I really don't understand completely the payoffs. I mean other than kind of the ability to isolate and control your environment, what the big payoffs are for being in an office. I mean is that it? Or is there more toward than that? EVAN: I think for me, one of the things -- okay so social outwit, at least during the workday for me would be one because more extroverted here. For another, and I don't get this as much with client projects or it depends from project to project, is having other people handy to bounce ideas off of. Because having someone to talk to other than rubber ducky, could be really helpful sometimes. CHUCK: Yeah, that makes sense. EVAN: That's a big one for me - having people around to bounce ideas off. CHUCK: So you actually have, you said an apprentice? EVAN: Yeah. He's working with me on one of my projects part time and we pair program together for several months. Now, I'm sort of cutting them loose to work on this project without me, without working with me side by side or pairing; he's working in the same room as me a lot of the time. And occasionally when there's something he gets curious about or something he's a little confuse about, then we discuss it. CHUCK: Yeah that makes sense. But if you were just set up in an office by yourself, without him there, do you still find that you have opportunities to bounce things off of people? EVAN: I think so. I mean again it depends on the client. My current client is one developer I worked with pretty closely. And so now I bounce ideas off of him. So just because some people are remote doesn't mean I can't bounce ideas off of them. It's just that there is that difference in energy levels; the change in energy level is necessary between looking over your shoulder and saying "Hey Frank, what do you think about blah?", and maybe calling someone up on Skype to have a discussion. There's more friction in that second action. So I probably don't brainstorm with people as much as I would otherwise. And then just as it is a person I guess, I routinely like to just see what other people are doing and then just chat a little bit while I'm doing just because it's fun to share sometimes; you'll have a little educational. But again, I'm one of those weird extroverted programmers. CHUCK: [laughs] I don't think that makes you weird. EVAN: Well I might be weird and extroverted rather than weird because I'm extroverted. CHUCK: That's true. [Evan laughs] CHUCK: I have to say that programming, in a lot of cases, is a team sport. EVAN: Oh yeah! Very much. Any project of any significant complexity used to require one to one person. CHUCK: Yup. So what kinds of things do you guys do? I'm going to draw back a little bit because people, again this is something that comes up when I talk to people about going freelance, I'm just like "well you should just go freelance!" I'm giving people terrible advice because I'm telling them to quit their job and go find the client when they complain about their job. Or go find the client and then quit their job. But anyway, so what do you do when you have these major distractions at home or at the office or whatever especially if you're in a position where you really can't leave? EVAN: If you're in a position where you really can't leave... CHUCK: So for example, Evan, if you're trying to get work done and the caregiver or your wife, or in my case my kids, are really -- I can't leave because my wife is up running an errand. EVAN: I don't usually put myself in that position, that is, I guess I'm very modal with my work. If there's no caregiver around, I don't work with very rare exception. Because, usually my work requires (me) to really focus that even if it's not super intense, I find interruptions incredibly frustrating. And I'm getting really enough because my wife is so on this, I don't need more help getting angry. So I just don't work when there's no caregiver around, I choose not to. So if I can't have a work environment which is conducive, then I just don't work. It's just I have a few fallbacks; I've got home, I've got my office, I've got the panera nearby, I've got my sound-cancelling headphones, I've got simply noise for extra-sound cancelling on top of my sound-cancelling, I've got at least 3 different places I can go where I can do something to get control the environment so I can work. And if I'm stuck in home, then as I said, I just don't work. If it means my client doesn't get something they need, well that's where "family just comes first". CHUCK: Yeah, makes sense. EVAN: I don't usually have to make that part of the decision; the clients usually don't have that strong of a decision because the clients don't necessarily have or don't this really have super big need all the time. And caregivers usually are available to take care of my wife and the office usually isn't that bad. So, it's an exceptional situation. CHUCK: Yeah. In my situation, it's mostly the same. If things just get to the point where I can't focus on work and the kids, then I just turn the work off. EVAN: Yeah! CHUCK: Sometimes I can put a movie on or things like that, and they will be fully engaged for an hour or so. And so that tends to work for me okay, but yeah it kind of depends on the situation. And if I have to, then I'll turn work off and then I'll negotiate with my wife to get a few hours to work in the evening and make up the time. EVAN: Yeah I guess on the rare occasion, I've had something remotely like that where I've got a client who used to had a super big need which come up once or twice, and I haven't been able to get enough care for Kim at a particular time. I've had, say for example her mom, watch her over the weekend and I would work at home over the weekend if I had to. I've seen or having done that maybe once or twice. Not something I would really wanted to, but if it's absolutely necessary I can usually find a way to work within the constraints. CHUCK: Yup. You have anything to add, Eric? ERIC: Yeah. I mean that's kind of what I do, is I'll see if I can change my environment enough just to work done. But if it's like a complete distraction, I pretty much would just, as long as there's no major deadlines, I'll just say "I'm not going to work right now", and you do make up the time at night, make it up on the weekend, or depending on what it is, just take it as a [inaudible]; just how to have they offer or something. But if it's kind of like say someone's getting started and has distractions in there like "I can't work like this, I don't know what to do", there's a ton of ideas that each of us has given. I think if you just search "trinum" and try its idea for like a week or something, like work at Panero or get an office or if can get a co-working place where you can rent by the day, it's even better. And you might find like one of those could work, and that's probably what I would do. Like if we ran to circumstance where I wouldn't be able to work at home, I'll probably start with like a co-working space or maybe try like a cafe or at a coffee shop and try a bunch of things and try to work and try to see if I can adapt my personality and my work style. CHUCK: Yup. So the other thing that people come up with with working from home is the "staying on task". And I think that's generally a problem whether you're in an office that you're renting or not, is being able to stay on task. So what kinds of things do you do? I know Evan, you mentioned working regular hours or maybe it was Eric that mentioned that, I don't remember. EVAN: No, it's me. But that's not what I do to stay on task. That doesn't help me or hinder me as far as being on task, it's just a constraint. CHUCK: I guess what I mean is that if you're at home, how do you avoid being in front of the TV instead being in front of the computer doing work? ERIC: Cancel your cable. [laughter] ERIC: No I mean basically any distraction I've ever had, once I realized it's a distraction, I get rid of it and then just replace with something else. So Twitter and Skype had become my TV distractions. You'll always going to have something; I think you just need to kind of realize you're being distracted, and instead of kind of doing half as work and half as a distraction, just go with the full way on either "I'm going to be distracted but I'm only going to watch TV for half an hour and then I'm going to go back to work and focus on work" or you just got to be hard on yourself and remove the distractions. I mean we honestly cancelled our cable, sold our Wii, and all that stuff because I was "Oh I'm going to finish up at 2 in the afternoon and go play with Wii for a few hours" and not really was a good idea. And so we just got to rid of it because it wasn't doing anything beneficial to us over the stuff that we are actually supposed to be doing. EVAN: I've never really found myself having much of a problem with just not playing computer games or not stopping to read a book or not stopping to watch television. Work is pretty binary for me. It's either I'm working or not working. And if I'm working, the only distractions I let in are really small ones. Like if someone sends me a mention on Twitter, that might get my attention and not immediately, or some emails. But I've been working at reducing the notifications that I get in OS10. Hey wait, Jim just sent me a message. Jim just sent me a message saying he just missed the podcast. ERIC: So talking about distraction? [inaudible] EVAN: Yes! We're talking about distractions! That was a Twitter message, there you go! ERIC: I think it depends on the work, too. Like I found when I'm programming, especially like if I'm doing a pretty good size feature, I don't notice the clock moving. I have to actually pull myself out to take a break, but it's the kind of the low-brain or like if I'm working on something I really don't want to do like say, I know you guys hate accounting, or something like if you had to do 4 hours of accounting, "Oh look! Xbox and the Wii look really nice right now" where you're looking at the clock and "Oh, it's only been another 5 minutes", so I mean that's a big aspect. If can maybe shift your work from the stuff that you know you would like to get distracted from, and shift all that work to "I'm going to work on stuff that I actually would like to stay focused on and work on", that might be a fix. EVAN: We've talked about this before, the will power being finite that if you're low on will power, choose something to work on, if you can, that doesn't require much will power. When I'm stuck working on a feature or something for a client that I really don't enjoyed, those are the times when "Yeah, maybe I'll call it a day a little bit early" or something like that. But most of time, when I'm working on anything that has clear business value for a client, then I'm in a mode of "just leaving the heck alone, I'm working here", and that's most of the time when I'm working. I'm just getting to know what I'm doing because I know I'm making someone's life a little bit better somehow. ERIC: Yeah. Another thing I found is the first two's and then 3 hours of my morning is when I have the most will power and the most energy and I have a different rhythm. And so if it's something that I have a really slug through it sometimes, I'll put it off and try to finish the day on something I enjoy. And then when I have all that extra will power, go towards something I really don't want to do just to get through it. And lots of times, that's enough just to kind of push my way, get it done, and move on. EVAN: That's a fine strategy. You know what, I just wish that I had clients who would give me more than one task at a time because I ask for that sometimes just for that reason. So I can kind of switch head when I needed to for my own sanity. CHUCK: Yep. I liked those ideas. One thing that, as you said before, you set work hours. That helps me, too. It's just I know I'm going to start working at 8 am and I'm going to quit work at 4 pm or whatever. And so we're all go and tell "I need to quit" but I can't quit until after 3. And I've done both of those and those seem to work well for me. And so then it's "this is work time, I'm not going to go play the Wii or whatever". EVAN: Well it's a little thing than another thing I've tried. Sometimes it works for me, sometimes I'm still like "Oh squirrel!". But (is there a good side?), but pomodoro-ing sometimes helps me get focused especially a little bit more toward the end of the day than early on. Like Eric in the first few hours of the day, I can just go heads down and the time just flies by. Sometimes toward the end of the day, that's when I need a little bit more of a drill sergeant so having a pomodoro clock or "okay I'm going to go 25 minutes, I can do this" and then just do it a few times and then I'm good. ERIC: Another thing I found -- I found it on accident, but most people are kind of conditioned to take a half hour or maybe an hour lunch. I found sometimes if I'm really tired or sluggish, I'll take a 2-2 1/2 hour lunch and just work later. And I found sometimes that's enough time for me to get out of work, maybe get doing some stuff around the house, or playing a game, or doing some reading, and kind of recover. And so when I come back for even a shorter afternoon, I felt a lot better, I'm a lot more productive per hour. EVAN: During a summer for me, it's a hop on the bicycle for half-hour or an hour and I come back and I would actually be up for working another 2-4 and I'm a lot more focused than I would be if I haven't. So totally.. CHUCK: Yeah. And that comes down to that contact switch again. EVAN: Yes. CHUCK: Yeah. The other thing is to setting that boundaries because your distractions are probably going to be people. EVAN: And this is why I even got an office - boundaries. CHUCK: So you know I have the boundaries with the kids. I leave Twitter up because I mostly ignore it. If it was something that was constantly distracting me, then I turn it off. But you got to find those boundaries and figure out what works for you, too, so you're not killing a ton of time doing things that aren't productive for you. I don't know if there's anything else really to add to that, unless you guys have other strategies that I'm not thinking of. EVAN: A few. One thing that comes to mind, I'm sure I've said before, I don't usually set an alarm clock. So while my nth time is constrained, my start time I usually leave open. And that's mostly about not just dealt with maximizing, my productivity, or maximizing my productive time, by getting however much sleep I feel like I need. So that helps me, but that's not so much a work place hack that's a pre-work place act and a plea work praise act. CHUCK: [laughs] I kind of like that idea. EVAN: It's a pretty liberating feeling to just wake up when you wake up rather than having an alarm clock. I really do like it. CHUCK: Another constraint that I put on myself with the current client is to get in a certain number of hours every week. EVAN: Oh that's hard! CHUCK: Yeah sometimes it's really hard, sometimes it's like "oh well, I just kind of showed up and I got as many hours as I wanted to". But most of time, it's more difficult because it's more hours than I'm used to putting in because I want basically fulltime work. EVAN: Yeah. CHUCK: And so basically then I can say okay I want to get X number of hours in a week -- Let's just say I want to get 40 hours just because it's a nice round number and everybody understands it, I sort of really hard to get that many hours. But let's say 40 hours, that means I have to build 8 hours a day, every day. EVAN: Yep. Or average (of) it. CHUCK: Right. And so if Monday, I'm looking at clocking out it's 6 hours, then I start looking at the rest of the week and going "Okay well if I'm going to clock out 6 hours, where am I going to make up the other 2 hours?" And that sometimes will keep me on track for another hour or two just because I realized "This week is nuts! And there's no way I'm going to make up this time, unless I just work it now". EVAN: Yeah I have a pretty hard time trying to get in a fixed number of hours. I've always had a hard time getting in a fixed number of hours. I try to get people focus on the quality of work and not the number or hours. Number of hours, except for me, how much money am I billing the client if I'm billing hourly? Number of hours feels very arbitrary in me because it might not be as much work as they want or might be way more work than they ask for. CHUCK: Yeah in this case, they've been pretty specific - "We want you to get so many hours in a week". EVAN: (Kind of creepy). See I've had a few clients who said that to me. What (do) you do with 40 hours a week? And I'd have to be very clear with them and say "I need you to understand that my best hours are my first four". I get two more pretty decent ones after that, and my last two, are not terrible to degrees of stupid. And usually, any brilliant idea I come up with within those last two hours, especially that last hour or especially if I work longer than 8 hours, 90% of the time, it's terrible. 10% of the time, it's rediculously awesome and I might not have thought of it when I was actually completely going hurt. But 90% of the time, I come back to that code the next morning and go "what the heck were you doing!" Know how I censored myself there. CHUCK: [laughs] What the squirrel were you doing? EVAN: That's our new bleep word huh? CHUCK: I guess. EVAN: [laughs] So I tell clients that all the time. That if they really want fulltime from me, they need to understand that "hey I don't really like doing it", and I also don't like doing it because the last couple of hours hurt. And if they're adamant about it, then I'll give it to them for a finite period of time. But I tried to warn them and tell them "I don't think you want me to". And occasionally they told me well, do it anyway. CHUCK: Yep. And if that's what the contract's -- EVAN: I don’t' think they believe me when I say it! [laughs] CHUCK: Yeah. It really depends on the client or the client and the contract. I've explained to people "Look I usually don't build that many hours in a week anyway and going to be tricky to get that many and the quality goes down any given day". EVAN: It's like that bummer peak, right? In the xkcd that you're product's going to be start to good on hill and then maybe once you hit just the right level of slap-happy from working a really hard long day, you might have this incredible spike in creativity. But you're not going to recognize when you have it or when you don't and so sometimes you might think you're at that peak and you're there and most of the time you'd be wrong. That's you at 90/10. Let me go find that way. Sure a lot of our listeners are familiar with it. CHUCK: Yeah I like xkcd, but -- EVAN: Personally I think we need to have an xkcd protocol or we just don't even say xkcd or we don't even describe the comment, we just say xkcd number just like we don't need to say "http418" and knowing me and I'm a little tea pot. [Chuck laughs] ERIC: Yeah, you got it there. CHUCK: Alright we will get that into the show notes. So I'm trying to think if there's anything else, any other suggestions that we can make, or if we just get into the picks. One thing that I do here is when I'm recording, I put a stop sign up on my door. I have that sticky tack and then I've got a little what is probably a photocross, stop sign. And I just stick it on the outside of my door and that tells my kids...Because sometimes they wandering anyway and it's not a big deal when I'm working, but tells them "look, this is something where you can't interrupt me". Usually I'm on a call, so in occasions like that, sometimes it help, too. I'm just trying to throw out any other ideas that'll make it easier for people to work from home or manage distractions wherever they're at. Anyway, let's go ahead and jump into the picks. Eric, you want to start this off? ERIC: Sure! I couldn't find anything this week. CHUCK: Alright! Evan. EVAN: That was too fast! [laughter] I didn't have time to think about one. Yes I think I've already been too distracted this week, there we go. CHUCK: I'll make some picks and then I'll come back to you guys. How's that? [laughter] ERIC: Can I have one at yours? [Evan laughs] CHUCK: So my first pick is something that I bought off of Amazon, came in the UPS van yesterday. It's a little "watering light" that you stick into the pot that your plant is sitting in. I bought plants, according to the recommendations that Eric made on like our first or second episode, he recommended a Ted Talk. And so I bought those plants because I wanted something in here that was alive besides me! And so I went and bought those plants and the one plant, the money tree, it's got a whole bunch of dead leaves that are falling off of it. And I was sitting here going "What's the deal? Have I just not been watering it enough or whatever?" Well I put those in there after not watering any of these plants for a week or so, and the money tree was, at this point, the light was blinking which means that it's low but not totally dry. And I put it in the other two plants, and it said that they were still plenty, moist, which meant that I've been over watering them and I think that was the problem. Anyway, it's good to know. So I just had a little water to the one plant and then the other one has turned out to be fine. So I'm going to pick those. The other pick that I'm going to make is, I think last week I picked the powermat, so this week I got a "little powermat". There's a battery backup that charges on the powermat and I got an adapter because it only make those with the 30-pin connector for the iPhone, and I have the iPhone5, so I need a lightning adapter for the 30-pin adapter. But I plugged it in the other day because I've been listening to podcast on my phone all day, so it was down to like 50% and it charged it up in like 10-15 minutes. It was pretty impressive, it was awesome. So that's my other pick. And I'll throw it back over the wall to Eric, if he has a pick now. ERIC: Sure. I'll make a playoff with yours. It's not actually something you buy, but if you have home like plants in your house, get some PVC pipe or if you have like a drip system tube, and bury that tube in off the plants so it's kind of pointed up. And then what you can do, you can pour water into the tube and it will water the roots of your plant directly. I've had a lot of problems with over watering and then having the plants get sick and die because of mold or whatever. And I found that sticking some PVC or stuff like that lets me water down at the roots while I don't actually get the plant like the leaves or near that messed up. So that's a little tip. CHUCK: That was good, too. EVAN: So I guess I've got a default pick because it's something I even had for little [inaudible] bit, and I haven't picked before. I'm sort of in a whim after becoming frustrated with my Nexus 7; I went and I got a iPad mini. I felt it was a little bit privelous, but I've actually found that I absolutely adore the thing. I use it -- now the great that I have i-devices in all 3 sizes, which seems a little ridiculous, but I used the iPad mini for most things - it's not an iPhone larger. The matter I guess the weight and form factor. I read book, I read a lot for pleasure and I scheme a lot of textbooks, I mean a lot of technical books. And the iPad mini is just wonderful for reading. The screen resolution isn't as good as say a Nexus 7, but it's much faster and if you're already have levered getting into the iOS platform like "I am with.." lots of money spent on apps, then that's a pretty [inaudible] device to have anyway. It's a little slower, of course. Well, actually it's half the speed on an iPhone 5 or the iPad 4. So if you're doing anything CPU intensive, no, it's not the best thing. But for most casual use, it's terrific. It'll mostly fit in the back pocket, although I actually fit it in a jacket pocket most of the time. But yeah, I'm completely hooked on it and I also have no idea what else to pick. So well there you go. I actually do really like it recommend, but don't go buy it necessarily, it's expensive. CHUCK: [laughs] Alright, cool. Alright we will go ahead and wrap the show up. I know that some of us have to take off so thanks for coming guys. It was awesome. I just want to point out we do have a few guests scheduled for the show now. We're going to have my attorney come on February 14th and he's going to be talking to us about contracts. Then I also got my accountant coming on sometime toward the end of February, I don't remember the exact date. But he's going to be talking to us about bookkeeping and business introductions or things like that. He talked to us about taxes last year, so if you want to go listen to that and get an idea what he's about, then you can go listen to that; I'll put a link to that in the show notes as well. And then like I said, we're looking to get a few more guests coming on to kind of give us some ideas or some of the things that you can do to make your business run better or just make things easier on you. So I've been talking to a prospecting coach, I've been talking to an outsourcing expert, and I've also been talking to a communications coach. So we're trying to get them lined up as well. We're hoping to get the attorney on a couple of time so we can talk about other things like intellectual property and stuff like that. ERIC: Sample of your free legal advice. EVAN: Yeah! Because IT Law is fun! ERIC: TCP is better. CHUCK: [laughs] Hopefully we can help save you some trouble legal, financial, or otherwise. Anyway -- ERIC: If you don't listen to the podcast, you'll be arrested and prosecuted. CHUCK: That's right. Anything you say can be used against you. Alright, we will wrap up the show, stay tuned for those, and thanks for listening! Catch you next week! ERIC: Bye! EVAN: Bye-bye!