Working from Home, Six Months Later

Almost six months ago I started working for Linaro, from home. It was the first time for me with a home-based job, and I’m enjoying every minutes of it.

Before joining Linaro I did my fairly amount of researches on the Internet about how to organize your workday and also your life: try to do as if you had to get ready for office, eat & drink, do not always stand sit…

I didn’t change much of my usual habits, and I’m trying to keep home and work activities as much as possible separate from each other. Sometimes they will interfere, but I guess it is normal, as long as you remember to stick to your plan of separating them.

So, this is something I would call my usual day…

Getting Out of Bed

I’m an “early bird” as to speak.

I like getting up early in the morning. Luckily from where we live, opening the window we can see the sea and the sun rising. Getting out of bed is not that bad after all.

During the warmer months I also enjoy going out jogging for 40 minutes, during the colder months I usually start my days with a 30-40 minutes training. Nothing much heart-pumping, and everything weight-free, just free body weight: abs, squat, push-ups, and lots of stretching (sometimes even yoga, but my yoga-skills are really rudimentary). On the Internet you can find plenty of videos and web-sites on how to train in the correct way and for how much, so you still get to vary your training (I still haven’t found a really good Android app for something I would call zen-training: a mix of body and mind exercises, that doesn’t get much into the way, and that suggests you exercises).

Shower, that helps me like a caffeine shot (I do not drink coffee, even if I drink tea), and a big breakfast. Breakfast that for me is the most important meal of the day.

No computer or any electronic gadgets activities until after breakfast.

The Work Day

I sit in front of the PC around 8-8.30, checking emails, reading newspapers and the usual social websites. At 9, my (virtual) pomodoro clock usually starts ticking. I try to organize my working days in that way, sticking to the pomodoro technique as much as possible, and having pomodoro times also for checking IRC and other work related activities I have to do online.

Code, Eat & Drink

I always have something to drink next to my keyboard. Sometimes it even gets on my keyboard, but that’s another story…

Tea in the morning, that usually propels me almost close to lunch time, then water. I do not eat anything else in the morning, and in the afternoon sometimes I have a little break and usually I eat a fruit. At lunch time, I cook: I enjoy cooking, and it is one activity that me and my girlfriend enjoy doing in the evening together. It is a good moment for talking, and for preparing food.

Getting Into Bed Again

After dinner, we spend time on the couch watching movies, or doing our open-source-communities related activities. I also enjoy doing a 10-15 minutes streching/yoga session before getting into bed again. And before falling asleep, I always read a good book.

As in all rules that you set for yourself, form time to time I do not follow them, without feeling guilty. I need the liberty of doing what I like to do, with the confidence of getting back to my habits.

  • Rcart rulz

    What a nice routine (:

  • Bryan Quigley

    I just started working from home. Still trying to find a balance and your post is helping. I definitely need that rule of now electronic devices before breakfast. Thanks!

    • At the beginning is a little bit hard: it is tempting. But once you overcome the first days, it will just be natural. Same thing for instant messaging applications: I always disable all notifications (keeping only the envelope color changing in Ubuntu), and I try to start conversations only when necessary or when I’m in a break. Same thing for answering: prioritize work. Obviously, there are exceptions to the norm, and it is normal.

    • lynne

      My husband and I are both self-employed and both work from home – two separate businesses! Him for over 20 years and me for over 10 years. It can get a little hectic. I have to say that don’t be so rigid in trying to achieve balance. Sometimes it feels like you’re doing nothing but working and other times it feels like you’re being so lazy with no work to do! So take it one day at a time. It will all work out!

  • I’ve worked from home for over 5 years now. I feel like I get a ton of stuff done, but I also feel like it takes me a lot of time. I’m always looking for inspiration on a more or just differently structured way to work. This was a very nice read in that respect. I actually hadn’t heard of the pomodoro technique before. I’m trying it out this week. So far, so good.

    Thanks for writing this.

    • I think working from home you get more stuff done than at the office: you tend to work more, and do less breaks. With less people around you have fewer distractions coming from others. I’ve been using the pomodoro technique for 3 years already, and it is a nice “agile” methodology in its own way. What I learnt using it is that it easily adapts also to your kind of work: you do not need always to pre-schedule the work to be done, as long as you stick to 20/25 miutes burst of work, and then rest. Sometimes you are working interrupt-driven, and you have to work in that way when you are doing maintenance cycles.

  • Pingback: On productivity – Part I()

  • mrooney

    Thanks for sharing this Milo! It reminds me a lot of my freelancing 6 month retrospective I recently posted: While I’m truly loving it, my biggest problem is procrastination and making sure I do enough work to sustain myself (it’s there, but I have to do it). I’ve heard of the Pomodoro technique before but never gave it a try in the workplace, but I’m definitely going to give it a shot this week at home.

    Thanks again for sharing 🙂 I definitely think that by documenting these kinds of experiences, everyone can take a little bit of this and a little bit of that and enhance their lives.

    • Thank you for sharing your link! I also read the 4-hour workweek, there are a lot of books more or less similar on the same topic. One thing that I learnt along the way, not only working from home, is to iterate in an agile way. Start with a technique, use it for a couple of weeks, iterate a couple of times at least: if it sticks to you that you do not even notice it, keep going. Otherwise try to look for another one, and repeat. I found the pomodoro one in this way.

  • You say you use a virtual pomodoro. Which one? There are lots of choices and the ones I’ve tried so far all annoy me in one way or another.

    • I think I tried them all… at one point I was thinking of writing my own, and am still thinking about that. Gnome-Shell looks like has a nice extension: (but I never tried it), there is this one that should be in Ubuntu repositories as well, but personally I do not like it. At the moment, I’m using an Android app through my phone/tablet, it is called pomodroido (not the best looking around, but it works). It also depends if you are looking for just a simple timer, or for a full blown pomodoro technique implementation, that will also do task tracking. Personally, my task tracking is a TODO file archived on Ubuntu One, that I keep open in an editor tab: always synced with all my computers and I can access it even on the phone. My ideal pomodoro implementation would just be an app indicator for Ubuntu.

      Other apps that I tried but didn’t relly like: (there is a Linux version too) (this one is written in Java)

      • Funny, I was using pomodroido, too. It was the first hit on Google Play. I picked up a (non-tomato shaped) egg timer at the supermarket, but it’s amazingly loud and has an obnoxious rattling sort of sound, so I’m going back to the Android app whose volume I can decrease 🙂

    • On a side note: when I first started using the pomodoro technique, at the office it was me and other people using it, and we were using real kitchen timers. It was a nigthmare: all the tic-tac-tic-tac going and then the ringing. We had to switch to a more silent approach. 🙂