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How Not to Work From Home

work from homeI love it when I tell people that I work from home, and the response is always the same, genuine, “wow, must be nice!”. Even when the other party also works from home, we both smile and exclaim what an amazing work-life-balance we totally have. But we all know the dirty truth – working from home has an unproductive, pyjama-wearing, errand-running dark side. Here is the list of mistakes that I have already made, so you can avoid them. You’re welcome.

Work ridiculous hours. I am my most creative around 5-7am – probably mainly because no one interesting is on twitter yet – so I like getting up at a rude hour and hammering away at copy until the rest of the world is up and starts bothering workflow with their emails/calls/meetings. With no office coworkers to signal the 5pm exodus, you can also tend to work too late. I consistently get work emails from other freelancers well into the late hours of the night, and usually feel like I should also be at my desk. The problem with this range of hours is usually burnout, which can literally stall your business for a time period (true story). Keep to office hours.

Multi-Task all the things! There are obvious advantages to being home during the day, such as having time to get household duties done and run errands. I know plenty of parents who have to work from home for this reason. But you have to know where the line is, and when you’re doing too many things. If the human brain can only handle one conscious thought at a time, try to get a handle on how much multi-tasking is going to be productive. Oh, and sign out of facebook*.

Take breaks. Especially if you work from home every day of the week, you will slowly decline into a conversation-starved, vitamin-D deficient state of mental instability. Fact. Take breaks, and actually schedule them in as appointments in your diary. I like going for a run at lunch time (aka “runch”) to break up my day and get me away from keyboard-hunch for an hour. Other people take naps, which sounds pretty incredible. Just don’t tell clients why you missed their call (I was in a ‘meeting’… always).

Go into your cave and workworkwork. I used to think that a sign of hard-working was doing nothing but working hard, however chaining yourself to your home office can ruin you as a person and deplete your energy sources quickly; not to mention the lost benefits of networking. Meet other freelancers, and schedule coffee dates with them. It’s important to get out of the house/desk and speak to other humans in the light of day. It may not look like work, but speaking to someone in a similar workspace as you and exchanging ideas and referrals is incredibly beneficial to growing your business and keeping your sanity. Everyone has different energy levels for socialising, but I would recommend booking at least a couple of coffee dates a week.

Chaos workflow. I am really bad for having thousands of windows and tabs open, switching between clients every three minutes and then never really getting a lot done. The Pomodoro Technique, where you break up your day into short segments of focusing on only one task, changed my life. It’s worth a whole post on its own, so just go read about it.

Get ready for work, like the rest of the corporate world. People always joke that work-from-homers probably never get dressed. Know what? If I don’t have any meetings, ain’t nobody gona find out if I don’t put jeans on. Deal with it. (Just make sure you know whether your Skype calls are video-ON calls.)

 *I don’t actually do this but it seems like a good idea.

Working from home isn’t a perfect solution for everyone, but for a growing population of professionals the home-office is making more sense, improving productivity, and supplying work-life balance. Pants or no pants.

We’d love to hear your work-from-home-hacks and pitfalls. What are they?

 

productforge_2_avatar-01Are you a future entrepreneur? Get experience in working within a team building a Minimum Viable Product over at Product Forge later on in the month. Allan Lloyds, Founder, explains more:
 
Product Forge weekends are an opportunity for you to develop your career through practical experience. Our events bring together entrepreneurially minded designers, developers and product managers to nurture their skills, broaden their network and develop new ideas. 
 
Participants form small cross-functional teams who work on a product concept over a weekend. Anyone is free to pitch an idea and everyone receives mentoring, meals and 24 hour access to the venue.
 
The top ranking teams win prizes to help them develop their career further. But however your team ranks you’ll have a new piece of work to add to your CV or portfolio, dozens of new contacts, and maybe even an interview or two lined up with one of our sponsors!
 
For more details please visit http://productforge.io

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Am I old fashioned for thinking that you should read stuff before sharing it online?

It is easy for people to share links to articles that they haven’t even READ! And it’s about to become even easier….

Buffer’s new product, Daily, is basically Tinder for Content.  Swipe to the right to share. Swipe to the left to skip. ( Tinder, for those who don’t know, is a popular dating app).

Sounds great for quantity but Continue Reading »

 bitcoin-logo-plain

I was avoiding the topic of bitcoins fearing it would take too long to wrap my head around it. But it’s time I bit the bullet.

Like everyone else, I want to be able to answer questions like: ‘Are crypto currencies a good thing?  What are the risks and are these being adequately addressed?’ How do crypto currencies other than Bitcoin fit in to the picture?’.

But before you can form an opinion on these matters, you need to know what Bitcoin is and how digital currencies work. The problem for people who are new to the conversation is that the discussion is filled with vocabulary and concepts that are unfamiliar to many of us such as:

  • blockchain

  • cryptocurrencies

  • encryption keys

  • mining

  • proof-of-work

  • hashcash Continue Reading »

I have a brain and I like to think it’s well-developed. But then things like this happen: at lunch today I somehow upgraded my BBQ chicken wrap to the more expensive meal deal option which included the chips and drink I didn’t originally want…. why did I do that?

Understanding how we choose

When you give people different options and tell them to choose one, they tend to compare the benefits in order to work out the value of things first.  Most of us don’t know what we want unless we view it in some context; we rarely value things in absolute terms as it’s hard to make decisions in a vacuum. Furthermore, it’s harder to compare things that are dissimilar so, unsurprisingly, we prefer to compare items that are similar.

Businesses that are aware of this can exploit this tendency to influence what people buy.  They can do this by including decoy items to make one item (the one they’d like you to pick) look more attractive than another.  A well-known example that is often used to demonstrate this is The Economist’s subscription options:

(a) web only: $59

(b) print only: $125

(c) web & print: $125 Continue Reading »

Days after it was announced that the mobile messaging app Viber was acquired by Japanese internet giant Rakuten for $900million, the news was dwarfed by the noise following the announcement that Whatsapp had been bought by Facebook for a record $19bn.  This post contains some of my favourite reactions to the news from Twitter & 9gag.com, a selection of opinion and analysis from industry experts and a list of items that Facebook could have spent the money on instead.

Does EVERYONE think that Facebook overpaid for Whatsapp?  Asia has already seen the potential that other regions of the world are only beginning to see in mobile messaging apps, according to this Wall Street Journal blog article.  Some of Whatsapp’s biggest competitors in Asia are Line in Japan, KakaoTalk in Korea, and WeChat in China.  These messaging apps have developed into platforms that allow users to access a range of services.

For example, China’s WeChat offers e-commerce services to its users, and Japan’s Line offers mobile games, which they say are a big source of revenue.  Messaging apps have been considered a hot mobile service in Asia for some time and Line’s Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer says:

“The amount that Facebook is offering to buy WhatsApp is not excessively high. This is a proof of how valuable smartphone messaging has become in the age of mobile.” 

Over at Reuters, finance blogger Felix Salmon (@felixsalmon) suggests that to ask whether Facebook paid too much is to ask the wrong question. With this acquisition Zuckerberg is making a statement that mobile is more important than money. Facebook’s mobile offering is not as popular as its desktop product. After going public, everyone knew that leading on the mobile front would be the next biggest challenge and Zuckerberg would need to make the transition as quickly and aggressively as possible.  That’s what he’s been doing. You can read more of what Felix Salmon has to say in his article here.

Continue Reading »

Running everyday in Dec 2013

This coming month (Dec 2013), myself and some of the Project Ginsberg team is undertaking the Macrothon. The rules are:

You have to run either 5k or for 25mins (whichever is quickest), everyday during December (including Christmas Day!)

If you miss one day, you’re out. Pretty tough, especially considering its 4pm and its dark already in Scotland.

Day 1 starts tomorrow. 

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