Working from Home and the Distractions

Posted: February 3, 2013 in Career, Full Time Camper, SQLServerPedia Syndication

I started a series of blog posts a few weeks ago where I wanted to focus on my lifestyle and how it relates back to work and SQL Server. The short of it is that I live and work out of my 40 foot camper, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. In my first post I was really curious on how many people really wanted to hear more about this topic and what sort of information did people want to get from it. I was overwhelmed by the number of people that responded and the questions that came out of it. So for my first follow up post, I want to directly address Brent Ozar’s (T|B) questions. Here is a portion of what Brent had to say:

“How often do you hook up the trailer and move to another site?

Are you able to focus on work when your wife’s in the trailer, too? I have a tough time telecommuting when I can see/hear Erika, so it works really well when she’s at her day job. Once she’s home, I have to quit (or head out to a coffee shop).”

Well the first question is pretty easy to answer, or at least up to this point. How often do we move, well at this point it is only twice a year. We have what I am calling is my home base, that is Mountaindale located just south of Colorado Springs, Co. The campground itself has a really awesome history, and there is so much to just see and do, but that is a post for another time. This winter we choose to go Blythe, Ca. to a place that used to be a KOA and is now called the RivieraRVResort. We came here in the Fall about mid October, and we will head back to our home base in Colorado by April 1st. For the future, well not too sure yet. There have been some challenges with coming to Blythe, the biggest one as it relates to working from home is the internet connection. The service out here is done by accompany called SuddenLink. I have had non-stop issues with them not being able to keep my connection on-line and at the speed I pay for. In the future, I am going to have to do a lot more in depth research on internet connections before we set out on a new destination.

Brent’s second question is the one that I have really be thinking about a lot. And when I say a lot, I mean really thinking about it. One of the reasons that this questions was so hard was I really felt that for me to answer it properly I need to do a very truthful evaluation of myself.

Let me start by saying that the only way that this lifestyle works for me and my professional career, is get as much done here at home or in the camper, as I would sitting in an office. It sounds like a pretty easy thing to do, if you get a certain amount of work done in one location, no matter how you determine to measure it, that same amount if not more needs to be completed when I work remotely. I don’t think I am having too much difficulty doing that, I do think that I get more done when I work remote than when I am in the office. There are a few issues that I am working on solutions for, such as hallway architectures. When you are in an office, often you will get stopped in the hall, or in the break room, and discussions are had. Some of these are really valuable. I am working on this and I think I am making headway, there are a lot of shorter emails, instance messages, and phone calls then I had originally planned for. To directly answer the question that Brent asked, do I get distracted. You bet, there are times when I have to go kill the occasional spider, or help move a lizard out of the way so he doesn’t get hurt. Just a few nights ago, I was working on something and we heard a loud hoot noise, I spent the next hour running around watching a great horned owl. Even with those distractions, I find that I am spending more time in front of a computer than I ever have before. My concentration level has gone up, and I have been able to find the time to get some of those projects done that I have been wanting to do for years.

With that being said… I find there is a big swing in the other direction of this discussion. Because we are so limited on space, the kitchen table is my office, I have my laptop there and my wife has her laptop there. When it is 8:00 PM and dinner is done, the dishes have been cleaned and some mind numbing TV show is sucking my brain cells dry, I can see my laptop not 20 feet from me. If you are at all like I am, when you have a problem or challenge that you are working on, it is always there on your mind. It sits there when you are eating, going to sleep and even when I should be relaxing. These are the moments that distract me the most. I can see the laptop, the ideas are flowing, and it is just so easy to walk by the computer, sit down and start working on something. Next think I know, I have been sitting in front of my computer for 3 hours, the wife has gone to bed, the dog wants to go for a walk and the precious me time is gone. I think my outside of work life is impacted more than my work like.

There is a balance for sure, I have to make sure that I take time to go out to dinner, or go to the local race track for some entertainment. I have started taking a lot of pictures, and I want to really grow in the hobby, but this means that I need to set specific time for work and then for me and for my wife. The nature of what I do for a living will always have me working around the clock at time, this is something we know and expect, it happens sometimes I have to really focus to make sure that I know it is ok that if I got a good days’ worth of work in that I need to stop working, and start doing other things. When you are in an office, and you leave for the day, sure you may go home and fire up the laptop, but that specific action of leaving the office is a great mental separator between work and home. So far I think I am going well with managing this balance. Could I be better, sure. These distractions, go both ways for me. I am sure they do for Brent as well.

  1. Jonathan says:

    I work from a home office too, but there are no wheels. One of the biggest success factors for me is that my office is well-isolated from the living areas of the home. I’m in the basement, and there is not one, but *two* closed doors between me and anything else that is going on. When my kids were young, my wife trained them to stay far away from my office when I was working.

    I actually cannot work well with other people close by. Once I had a boss who liked to stand behind his programmers and watch them work. One day he got almost angry, asking in frustration why I always stopped every time he walked around behind my desk. Well…LOL! Fortunately his brother was co-owner of the company and also a programmer, and was able to vouch that I was, in fact, quite productive when no one was staring down my shoulder.

    I have tried, but I am unable to do any serious work upstairs in the presence of family. Rote work I can do, but creative work requires isolation.

    • Chris Shaw says:

      Great feedback, I find that I do much better work as well when I don’t have people watching over my shoulder. However, I have never had to worry much about it outside a couple of situations.

  2. Hi- My name is Shannon and I am with Suddenlink. I am sorry to hear you are having trouble with your service and would be happy to help resolve. Feel free to email me at shannon-AT-suddenlink-DOT-com. Thank you!

    • Chris Shaw says:

      Hi Shannon,

      Thanks for your comment. I have not been having any luck finding someone to help me with this. I apperciate you reaching out to me. I will send you an email.

  3. Brent Ozar says:

    Makes sense. I seem to do the best when my home office is in a completely separate place. When we rented my grandparents’ old house in Michigan, my home office was on the second floor, away from everything, and I never took the laptop out of that room. It was really easy to separate work time from play time then.

    Several years ago, I tried coworking – renting a desk or office in a shared work facility. That was fantastic – when I was at work, I was really at work, and when I was home I wasn’t the least bit tempted to fire up the laptop.

    This past year has been the toughest, though. My home office is right off the living room, and I can see it from everywhere in the house. If Erika’s getting ready for dinner, for example, I’ll jump into the home office and get some work done (or read blogs and comment, ha ha ho ho.) We’re starting to look at the next place we’ll live, and I’m already looking forward to getting an isolated home office again.

    My dream setup would be to have a garage apartment dedicated as an office. Someday!

    • Chris Shaw says:

      At one point we were looking at a rig, that had a little bedroom sort of deal in the very back, It was an option on the rig to set it up as an office or a bedroom with a couple bunk beds. I that that would have been perfect, just to bad we hated the rest of the set up.

      Thanks for the question, and the reply.

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