It was a rainy Saturday. Perfect weather to check out Chicago’s Little Saigon neighborhood for some Phở.
The food was delicious and the people were friendly. The waiter even offered up some free advice, which I thought was rather poetic. He said,
Take time. Go slow. Live long life.
Sometimes working from home can be quiet. Too quiet. And some days I don’t want to leave and go to a coffee shop, meet up with a friend, or go somewhere. I like being home.
So I’ll put something on. I’ll listen to music, usually something with few to no words when coding, planning, and discussing. I put on a podcast while designing because there’s something comforting about a human voice when you are home alone.
And then there’s Mumble Meetings.
I have two very close friends who also work from home. We are all in different states, working for different companies, and every so often our schedules sync up and we have a Mumble Meeting. Basically we all jump on a video chat and just work. I guess you could call it virtual co-working. (We say mumble because we mutter to ourselves under our breath when we work.) We click away at our keyboards and trackpads, we vent, we catch up, we help each other out. Its a great way to break up the day and it has the added side effect of staying in touch with long distance friends.
The box said it was for ages 14 and up. I decided to show my 4-year-old nephew how to fly my little drone anyways. And by fly I mean just to use the up and down throttle. He eventually figured out if he moved the same control a bit to either side he could spin it as well.
Hours of entertainment. Well, until a few propellers broke. Related: We are both now eagerly awaiting new propellers.
“Did the flying things come yet? Does the mailman know?”
A fun little mini Hubsan X4. Its about 4×4 inches and weighs next to nothing. It has the battery life of about fifteen minutes, which makes for the perfect work break. I got it after hearing about it from my coworker Michael. He also has this great drone.love blog.
This isn’t something I thought I’d ever be into but I’ve had it for about 24 hours now and I’ve had a ton of fun learning to fly it. I crash it all the time and it’s held up surprisingly great so far. I’ve lost a propellor and broke one. Good thing it comes with four extra.
Some lessons I’ve learned so far:
There are two propellor types – clockwise and counter-clockwise. You can’t just put them on in any old place. The drone arms and the propellors are marked with either A or B. Just make sure you match them up. Otherwise, you won’t get off the ground.
If it looks like the arms are falling apart or have broken underneath, fear not. That is supposed to happen. They unhinge on bigger crashes. Just pop them back into place. You kind of have to force it.
My propellors started to fly off really easily towards the end of the first day. They can be hard to find especially if you don’t have a ton of lights on. To fix this, I took them all off and lightly scuffed up the motor tips with a nail file. This gave it a bit more grip and they’ve been staying on better.
Once you get the hang of steering, its fun to walk behind it and drive it around and outside the house. Keep the red lights facing you and the blue lights in front.
And you’re never too old to buy a toy. Or learn new things. Or be one with your inner nerd.
Or: One Weird Trick to Staying Productive at Work
Only have the tabs open of things you are currently working on. Not what you are about to work on, are meaning to respond to, or would like to get to soon.
Keep them open until you have completed the task. Then, close them, open the next thing, and repeat until happy hour. 🍻
My dad is an auto mechanic. Growing up I spent many days in his shop, learning how to change oil, use a grease gun, clean parts, and pay the bills.
I liked listening to the interaction between customers and the mechanics. There was one lesson I learned that has stayed with me.
Tell me the problem, not how you think I should fix it.
Meaning: the mechanics don’t want to hear your solution to your car’s problem. They want to hear what is wrong. They are the experts. Let them figure it out.
As I got into art and design, I’ve learned this is true in my line of work as well. It really applies to any type of feedback. The receiver benefits far more from hearing the what rather than the how. At the same time, the giver stands to learn something new.
My girlfriend and I have one rule.
No phones in the bedroom.
It started out as an experiment, but we’ve managed to stick with it for several months.
I go to sleep sooner at night and don’t stay in bed all morning feeling the need to check everything. Oh, and we have more time to talk and stuff.
I needed a little break from work so I went mountain biking on a familiar trail. I noticed that someone had sawed away the part of a fallen tree that was blocking the trail. I thought,
“Oh, nice! Now I don’t have to get off my bike to climb over; I can keep riding.”
Then I had another thought:
“Is this what people feel when I fix a bug?”
I’d like to think so.
Beautiful video about roller skating in SF. Pretty great life advice too.
If other people think its weird or not cool, don’t listen to them. Listen to your heart.
At my previous job I would get antsy sitting in the same desk every day. I would move around a lot. I’d find an empty desk, an unused conference room, or sit at the picnic table outside. Although I was moving around, it was hard being creative sitting in the same general location and feeling like you had to more or less be physically present from 9–5.
One thing I’ve come to appreciate at my gig here at Automattic is the ability to completely choose your own adventure in terms of when and where you’d like to do your work. I’ve been here less than two years and my list of “where” is pretty long and continues to grow.
I used to take a lot of working vacations, but I’m learning that just because I can work anywhere, doesn’t mean I should. Working on the beach may look cool in pictures, but unplugging and enjoying your vacation has proved to be much more beneficial. I still believe that working while traveling is a great way to spend time in a new place, but I’m trying not to let all my vacations become working ones.
- Ellington, CT
- New York, NY
- Brooklyn, NY
- Monterey, MA
- Moving to Chicago, IL next month
- San Francisco, CA*
- Santa Cruz, CA*
- Various towns in CT
- Las Vegas, NV*
- Reykjavik, Iceland*
- Jackson Hole, WY
- Moab, UT
- Denver, Boulder, and Aspen, CO
- Queenstown, New Zealand*
- Various towns on the island of Oahu, Hawaii*
- Salt Lake City, UT*
- Charlestown, RI
- Provincetown, MA
- Seattle, WA*
- Paris, France*
- Boston, MA*
- Atlanta, GA*
- Portland, OR*
- Chicago, IL*
My favorite place to work? Anywhere with my coworkers on any one of our meetups. (Those locations are marked with a *)
Working whenever I want is also important to me. I’m not always the most creative or productive during the “normal” 9–5 business day. This doesn’t mean that I haven’t created a routine, its just a very flexible routine that I’m constantly iterating on. It allows me to not feel guilty getting up from my computer and going on a bike ride at 2pm three days in a row and gives me the ability to say “yes” to an impromptu long weekend because I don’t have a set number of days off.
If any of this sounds interesting and you’d like to come work with me, check out our job openings. I know remote working isn’t for everyone so if you’d rather work in an office with a great group of people, my previous company is hiring as well.
Photo: Taken in Boston, MA by coworker Jeff Golenski