MonthApril 2016

How to Not Explode When Working From Home

If you’ve ever worked from home, or are considering working from home, you can or will relate to the things I’m going to talk about today. My work-from-home experience was fairly short, and it was that way because I simply feel that it’s important to be in the same place when working in a team. For those people who are independent workers or working remotely, this isn’t always feasible and can be much more cost effective to work from home

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The inspiration for this rant is that our company, Clever Endeavour Games, was working from home for a while. First we were working from our individual homes and our productivity was extremely low. Not only that, but as a person who was trying to manage the project, I found it impossible to know what anyone was working on. Then, we moved to start working at my place, at the kitchen table, which was also pretty lame. This was because we were constantly distracted by “home” things, eating, other people in the place, and it just didn’t work. So we moved to a shared workspace and it’s awesome and we’ll talk about that in another post.

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This is what most home offices look like right? Ha.

Assuming it’s more effective for you to work from home, how do you not explode?

Get Dressed in the Morning

Before you start your work day, change out of your pyjamas / boxers / nudity or whatever you slept in, and actually get dressed. You don’t have to put on a suit, but at least put on some pants and something that you could reasonably wear to leave the house.

Move Your Phone Away

Don’t keep your phone right on your desk, as it will distract you. Put the ringer on if need be, but leave the phone in another room or away from you so that you’re not tempted to scroll through Instagram or Facebook while “on the job”.

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Separate Work from Life

This is a general tip, but when you’re working from home, make sure you’re not working and, say, doing your laundry. Or getting up every 5 minutes to clean dishes, or eat something. Pretend you’re actually at work, and you’ll do life chores when you “get home”.

Give Yourself Downtime

Try not to answer emails after a certain time, unless they’re extremely urgent. Especially when working from home, there’s a tendency to check an email while on the couch or during time spent living (i.e. not working), and to run back into the office and “just do this one thing”. This is bad! It breaks the lines between work and home and it’s a slippery slope.

There’s a ton of stuff written about this, but I just felt like I should share my opinion on it. Feel free to let me know if there are things I should add 🙂

It’s A Tough Industry… Get Used To It!

It’s always a tough industry. I can’t think of an industry that isn’t tough, unless you’re super super specialized. It’s hard to get a job, and it’s even harder to get a good job.

When I started mechanical engineering in University, one of the reasons I was doing it (instead of architecture) was that Quebec needs engineers, and I was told that I could be pretty sure that I’d get a job easily coming out of school. When I graduated, I looked through long lists of job postings meant for recent grads, and found 1/50 was open to people with less than 5+ years of experience. Great. That one job that was open sounded super boring and depressing, and didn’t pay much. None of the people I knew that graduated with me from mech engineering got good jobs out of school. It often took over six months to find them, and they were still crap.

“You know, it’s a tough industry…”

You might think: “Well what about law, or accounting or medicine? They do all that schooling, there aren’t that many of them, must be easy to get a great job!” You would be wrong! Accountants need to pay their dues and put in ridiculous hours of mildly satisfying work, lawyers have issues finding decent jobs without experience, and doctors have trouble getting placed into the fields they want and in the locations they want.

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If you’re a specialized systems programmer, an underwater welder, or a prosthodontist, it’s going to be tough to get a good, well paid job. There’s a solution to this though, that I found in engineering and have continued to find now that I’m in the game development world. Contacts.

Contacts are how people get jobs. School is nice, good grades are cool, and work experience is even cooler. But at the end of the day, contacts are what will get you a (good) job. You have more contacts than you think! Whatever field you’re in, you’ve probably got a friend or a family member who knows someone. You’d be surprised how far your inner circle reaches. It could just be that your uncle has a friend who consults for a firm that does ____, and can get you in touch with that friend. I got my first engineering job through the mother of my girlfriend at the time, and I started a company by going to events and meeting people who eventually became our team.

Contacts, contacts, contacts.

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Not that kind.