Occasionally, I’ll get questions about how I handle what it’s like working from home and running a business all the while having my family at home during the day (my kids are both three and one so they aren’t quite at school age yet).
So though this has nothing to do with development and has more to do with how I get things done, I thought it would be worth sharing within the context of a blog post so I’d have something to refer to others later in terms of how I manage my environment and my time when it comes to working out of the home full-time.
The absolute most important thing for me is my environment. I have to have a room solely dedicated to work and I have to make sure that I have all the things that I need to be able to get into the zone.
This includes the following:
- A simple workspace setup with nothing more than my computer a few papers (that will need to be filed)
- A way to make coffee
- A decent sound system
- And a television for days in which I’d rather have some old movie playing rather than music as background noise.
I’m also a fan of natural light; however, sometimes I prefer it dark so the room that I use has two windows – about half the time the blinds are open, half the time they aren’t. It totally depends on my mood, but it also totally affects my mood.
So there’s that.
My office is on the second story of the house and it’s in the further corner from everything that goes on during the day. This means I can focus on my tasks at hand and be as focused as possible without a lot of background noise.
This doesn’t always work – as I’m typing this, I can hear one of my daughters playing around downstairs – but that’s fine. There’s nothing like being a dad and so hearing them downstairs playing around every now and then isn’t bad.
That said, interruptions are something that I have a hard time dealing with – I always have. It has nothing to do with anyone else but myself – it’s completely personality driven. So I try to keep my door closed as much as possible. When it’s closed, I usually hear a knock before someone – my wife or my oldest kid – comes in. This gives me a chance to pause what I’m doing and focus my attention to what’s coming.
Other times, I leave the door open. When that’s the case, I’m completely fine with anyone coming in. It really depends what I’m working on: If it’s email, then come on it; if it’s writing code or a I’m on a phone call, then it’s best to leave me alone so I can focus on the task at hand.
Save for just a few exceptions – which I’ll talk about momentarily – I try to completely disconnect when 5pm rolls around. This means no email, no texts, no tweets, no communication of any type.
I want to be the kind of parent who’s completely involved with their kids when they’re awake and I’m off work. After all, I have the luxury of not having to sit in a commute, right? But this looks different for every person, so what I’m about to share has to do with my and my personal preferences – it’s not what I think anyone else should do:
- I have no Twitter client installed on my phone. I have it installed on my desktop and check it only a few times a day.
- I don’t use Facebook or Instagram. I rely on my wife, Meghan, to fill me in on anything that’s interesting and or relevant and that system works well.
- I have email setup on my phone, but if something comes in that isn’t urgent, it gets pushed to ‘Tomorrow’ or ‘Next Week’ for me to handle.
- I have an application that I use to stay in touch with my closest friends and family so that if something comes in from them, I can definitely respond. Anyone else is usually someone that can wait.
- My calendar. I keep everything on my calendar along with reminders (thanks to Fantastical) so I allow those notifications each day so that I’m aware of whatever it is I need to do during the given day.
Other than that, I actually have very little on my phone that connects me to online communities during the off hours. This doesn’t mean I have the occasional emergencies come up that need attention but, for the most part, this system works and it works well.
It allows me to really focus on what I believe matters the most when it matters the most and it also allows me to use things like my camera to capture all of the moments that I might be otherwise tempted to use to, say, check Twitter or something like that.
This is All Me
But this is all just me and it’s what works for me. I’m not trying to say that this is something that anyone else should do or anyone else should necessarily try.
I’m simply sharing what I do to stay on task each day given what I have going on since I’ve received since question more than once.
With that said, I’m still interested how the rest of you juggle your time, so feel free to share that information in the comments!