Categories
Parenting Work

The (home) office door

Working from home full-time is fantastic, but having an office in a small house with two small children means that staying focused can be a challenge.

As any parent will tell you, a closed-door is not a universally recognised symbol by children to knock or come back later. It’s more like a general invitation to see what’s happening behind. A locked door generally leads to more knocking. You have to get a bit more creative if you want to minimize interruptions. So I had an idea.

As a project, the kids and I created a few things for the office door that now serve as an interface between us while Dad is working.

Categories
Moving to Scotland Work

A refreshing change

As part of our recent move to Scotland, I resigned from Microsoft after 13 years of being at the company and I recently started new work as a support engineer (aka Happiness Engineer) with a company called Automattic, a company that’s so different it’s hard to see a resemblance past the fact that they are both “tech companies”. I didn’t leave for any single grievance with my prior employer, it was for my own reasons. That’s mostly true.

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What I learned last week

What I learned last week (#47)

Tool I discovered: Droplr. Since starting work at Automattic I have been getting to know and love this tool for taking and sharing screenshots and screencasts. It uploads your files automatically for easy sharing, has a bunch of surprisingly great options, and it’s fast.


Documentary I enjoyed: The Game Changers. Since going vegetarian over a year ago, Kav and I have been getting into it more and more and have no desire to go back. This made me want to go farther.


Tumblr site that made me laugh: Catalog Living. There have been a few of these floating around the office. Too funny.

Gary threw down his napkin in disgust when he realized tonight would be yet another Giant Pear dinner.


Favorite life advice of the week: Read like your life depends on it, because it does. From the always good Marcus Purvis. I also enjoyed his recent post in his Notes from a Small Country series.


Article about “work” that made me think: Asynchronous Communication: The Real Reason Remote Workers Are More Productive. This lines up neatly to my new role working for an entirely distributed, async company, so it’s right in my echo chamber but good I think nonetheless.

This highly synchronous way of working would be understandable if it produced results, but there is more and more evidence that all the real-time communication overhead makes it hard to focus, drains employees’ mental resources, and generally makes it more difficult to make meaningful progress on work.


To see what we’re up to, check out our now page. The featured image is another one I colored in with some Tombows from my small notebook:

Categories
What I learned last week

What I learned last week (#46)

Being a solo Dad was pretty great: But there is nothing like Mom getting home! While Kav was traveling last week I had a few things planned to keep the kids occupied, but Sam’s cold-from-hell ruined a lot of that. Fortunately it all worked out and there were plenty of toys, games, movies and crafts to keep us going, although Vivi did say she got “over Daddy’d” by the end of the week. 😂


My favorite book excerpt from the week:

Our first reaction to most of the statements (which we hear from other people) is an evaluation or judgment, rather than an understanding of it. When someone expresses some feeling, attitude or belief, our tendency is almost immediately to feel “that’s right,” or “that’s stupid,” “that’s abnormal,” “that’s unreasonable,” “that’s incorrect,” “that’s not nice.” Very rarely do we permit ourselves to understand precisely what the meaning of the statement is to the other person.

Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People

More thoughts on work life balance:

Buy this car to go to work, go to work to pay for this car

Metric

Working to live often means giving up your life.

I know this dates me, but I’m nostalgic for that atmosphere of repose—the extended family dinners, the spontaneous outings, the neighborly visits. We haven’t completely lost these shared hours, of course. Time-use studies show that weekends continue to allow more socializing, civic activity, and religious worship than weekdays do. But Sundays are no longer a day of forced noncommerce—everything’s open—or nonproductivity. Even if you aren’t asked to pull a weekend shift, work intrudes upon those once-sacred hours. The previous week’s unfinished business beckons when you open your laptop; urgent emails from a colleague await you in your inbox. A low-level sense of guilt attaches to those stretches of time not spent working.

I couldn’t agree more.


New productivity strategies: I’m enjoying (and trying the methods within) the often mentioned Getting Things Done by Steven Allen. Although it’s advocating for what some might at first glance seem to be a rigid way of operating, I am finding it more loose and freeing than I imagined. Why do we feel so good right before vacation: because we’re cleaning up and keeping things current. We’re closing down all our open loops, getting right with our commitments. Wouldn’t it be good to feel that way on a (somewhat) regular basis? I’ll try that kool aid.

Being organized means simply that where something is matches what it means to you.


The allure of country music: Maybe it’s due to living on a farm, but I’ve been dipping more into country music as of late. This was separate from learning about Ken Burn’s recent Country Music documentary. Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Hank Williams are regularly getting played in the office. Especially The Essential Merle Haggard: The Epic Years.


The power of the project table: I set this up last week and left it going all week so the kids and I could do some art any time we felt like it. It was magic. We made all sorts of random stuff, and a special creation being a set of signs for the home office.


Something awesome: Snoop has a full-time blunt roller on staff

Snoop said the full-time position pays “$40 to $50,000 a year,” which means it’s actually a real job, and my high school guidance counselor lied to me.

I was probably qualified for this job a long time ago, but I’ve sadly let my skills atrophy.

Categories
What I learned last week

What I learned last week (#43)

When in doubt, tidy up. I did a lot of tidying this week as I find myself with some extra time off. The doldrums of the typical afternoon require that I do something with my hands to get unstuck and moving stuff around is a great antidote. Just remember, we don’t have to keep our spaces neat and tidy, just keep them ready for when we want to work (or play). That often means leaving things out, at the ready.


New music to work (and dance) to: From KEXPs excellent Midnight In a Perfect World series lands this crazy mix by Hot Chip: KEXP Presents Midnight In a Perfect World with Hot Chip


Rules of the studio from Austin Kleon and Kanye West: This inspired me to try doing some “studio time” at home, earmarking an hour (or however long it would last) for creating art with the kids. I want to expand it to include collage and sculpture, but for this first one we just had pens and pencils. Here are a couple of the outputs:


A book from Hemingway that was release posthumously: Islands in the Stream. I am in little bit of a reading rut and have been reading a lot of nonfiction on developing (good) habits and philosophies of life. This seems like a good antidote.

The first of Hemingway’s posthumously published novels (1970), Islands in the Stream was found by Hemingway’s widow after his death. Beautifully descriptive, he weaves together many of his signature narratives – love, loss, longing, adventure, and war. In three stories, Hemingway takes us through decades of the life of artist Thomas Hudson, in a semi-autobiographical depiction that begins with the joys of fatherhood and fishing before moving to suspenseful Nazi submarine hunting. This book has something for everyone, and is a worthwhile read for those only familiar with Hemingway’s more popular and earlier works.

From FS.blog’s Brain Food #333

What Works and What Doesn’t by Steven Pressfield:

The only thing that allows me to sit quietly in the evening is the completion of a worthy day’s work. What work? The labor of entering my imagination and trying to come back out with something that is worthy both of my own time and effort and of the time and effort of my brothers and sisters to read it or watch it or listen to it.


Favorite book excerpt:

A practicing Stoic will keep the trichotomy of control firmly in mind as he goes about his daily affairs. He will perform a kind of triage in which he sorts the elements of his life into three categories: those over which he has complete control, those over which he has no control at all, and those over which he has some but not complete control. The things in the second category-those over which he has no control at all-he will set aside as not worth worrying about. In doing this, he will spare himself a great deal of needless anxiety. He will instead concern himself with things over which he has complete control and things over which he has some but not complete control. And when he concerns himself with things in this last category, he will be careful to set internal rather than external goals for himself and will thereby avoid a considerable amount of frustration and disappointment.

A Guide to the Good Life, William B Irvine