Up Front by Emma Hart

Read Post

Up Front: Home is Where the - Ooo, shiny!

95 Responses

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 4 Newer→ Last

  • Islander, in reply to Isabel Hitchings,

    My nightowl mother & father ceased being surprised that they had a little tribe of night owls by child # 3 - they werent discouraged by this fact, going on to breed 3 more...my sibs who have bred have ensured continuity of the nightowl community.

    It's one of the glories of being self-employed that I get to chose when I get up. And when I go to bed-
    o, and I have a silent answer-machine so I'm never woken by an importunate 'phone.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Andrew G,

    I’m exactly like you in this respect, Danielle. If i don’t have a deadline it doesn’t get done; if I do it gets done really close to the deadline.

    That's kinda how it is being a journalist: you hit deadlines. So long as you do that, and produce quality work, it doesn't matter so much how you get there.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17938 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Being a computer programmer, I long ago gave up on ever even agreeing to deadlines. I'm sure there are programmers who regularly meet deadlines, but I'm also pretty sure they do it by massively overestimating how long things will take.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8015 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to BenWilson,

    I’m sure there are programmers who regularly meet deadlines, but I’m also pretty sure they do it by massively overestimating how long things will take.

    But if overestimating just means you meet your deadline, then it wasn't an overestimation, was it?

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi, in reply to BenWilson,

    I’m sure there are programmers who regularly meet deadlines, but I’m also pretty sure they do it by massively overestimating how long things will take.

    My old boss used to say "Always underpromise and overdeliver" which is a great strategy as long as you're dealing with people who don't start panicking at the "underpromising" step of the process, then assume the "overdelivering" is the result of their panicked emails and phone calls.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 838 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh,

    The beauty of my job is that so long as I show up for my classes and put in an honest effort, get translations done promptly, hand in grades at the end of the semester, and am generally available to help out with all the various admin, management, interpretation, and whatever other tasks the boss assigns me, nobody really cares where I work from or how I use my time. There is an office available for the use of the foreign teachers, but no requirement to be there.

    But I am jealous of those who do have a space they can close off and claim as their own for work time. Translation requires a lot more of my concentration than the various other tasks I do. The office is ok for translation, but the constant coming and going and the ease with which people can intrude on my translation time looking for help with various other things gets a bit distracting. So work from home, right? A concept I love in principle. Trouble with rural Chinese family for working from home, though, is that they simply have no concept of personal space. All space is family space. Noboby gets their own room, there is no office. So on a couple of occasions I've had to get grumpy in a "shut up or bugger off and let me concentrate" kind of a way.

    I do find I have to draw a sharp line between work space-time and not-work space-time for the maintenance of my own sanity. It's hard to maintain, though, when any time I'm awake and any space I happen to be in can be work space-time. So in the warmer months once I've managed to escape the classroom or office I will often sit in the garden with a book completely unrelated to anything work-like and quite resolutely distract myself. Very refreshing. It would be nice if Beijing's winters weren't so bitterly cold and I could do that year round.

    I do find keeping to a schedule to be utterly essential. Having classes at fixed times is largely what keeps me functional during term time. Holidays are difficult, though.

    I find the internet to be both tremendous help and terrible hindrance. It's a tremendous help in that there are so many resources that are so useful for translation (NO! Not Google misTranslate!) - and things like creative applications of features of things like Wikipedia, Baidu Baike and image searches that can be helpful in quite surprising ways. It's also very distracting. Sometimes that's good in that my brain is tying itself in knots over some particularly difficult phrase, and a few minutes allows my subconscious to untie the knots and get things flowing again, but it's so easy to dive down some rabbit hole and get lost chasing tangent upon tangent upon tangent...

    I can certainly see how kids can help set a schedule, but the problem I have right now is that one month old babies follow their own rules. Oh, and if anybody has any good tricks for persuading her that her newfound talent for aiming her spewed up milk so that it hits everything but the cloth daddy put over his shoulder precisely to catch her spew, your help would be appreciated.

    And after 11, coming up 12 years of this lifestyle I'm starting to think I'll never be able to do one of those jobs I've heard of that requires you to spend entire days in an office. That and my past trouble finding work in Aotearoa (New Zealand - entirely dependent on internation trade for its economic wellbeing, but, no, we don't need people skilled and experienced in foreign languages) leave me wondering if, when we return to NZ in a couple of years time, there'll be a big enough market in Auckland for a freelance Chinese-English translator and English teacher to feed his family... I don't see why not.

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • Julian Melville,

    I've done two stints of working from home. The first was in Sydney, for a NZ company that was about to go down the toilet and was a bit unsure of it's purpose in life. Really nice folks but I only met most of them twice and I was mostly drunk at the time. That and occasional bouts of working on New York time meant I wasn't all that sad when I was eventually laid off.

    For the last three years or more I've worked from Auckland for a small, focused Aussie firm of people I know well and see a few times a year, and it's a great experience. My tips are probably the same as others:

    - have a place that is "work" and preferably nothing else.
    - get out of the house when you can -- I walk the kids to school and have a wander round the park on the way home, weather permitting.
    - a daily list of things that will be done today helps get you back on focus when it drifts.

    Also yep to Formway chairs (I found a couple second hand on Trademe and they're great) and I've also been enjoying my stand up desk arrangement for nearly a year now.'

    Auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 180 posts Report Reply

  • Glenn Pearce,

    Except if you estimate realistically you don't get the work in the first place :-)

    Auckland • Since Feb 2007 • 342 posts Report Reply

  • Scott A,

    I do both waged work in an office and also my own work from home, and frankly I feel a bit terrified of the thought of not doing that mix. The office job gives me routine, stability (and a guaranteed income, unless Westpac screws up the government payroll...), while the work I do from home is something I genuinely enjoy, want to do, with a sense of space and freedom (to wear no pants, or to take time off for a quick hand shandy (thanks Jack)).

    But, yes, this does also mean I utterly respect braver people who can do the whole hog and say "screw working for the man, I'm gonna spend all day wearing no pants to make my money!" I think I'd need to see more reliable remuneration on the horizon to take that step. And I guess this is for another thread - how have people made that jump, out from the salaried 'security' of employment to self-employment?

    But for my part, for my work from home, I'd also emphasise what others had said - deadlines; even self-created ones, get me doing the work I need to do in the time I need to do it. Often accompanied by rewards (for me, often; meet this deadline and, yes, you can have this Emerson's 1812 and take the time to slow-cook a curry. That sort of thing).

    The wilds of Kingston, We… • Since May 2009 • 118 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    I long ago gave up on ever even agreeing to deadlines

    How did you manage to persuade others to accept that though?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15715 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Scott A,

    But, yes, this does also mean I utterly respect braver people who can do the whole hog and say “screw working for the man, I’m gonna spend all day wearing no pants to make my money!”

    Ahem. Some of us wear tracksuit pants. Comfy ones.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17938 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to BenWilson,

    Being a computer programmer, I long ago gave up on ever even agreeing to deadlines. I’m sure there are programmers who regularly meet deadlines, but I’m also pretty sure they do it by massively overestimating how long things will take.

    Different gigs, though, bro. Journalism deadlines generally involve smaller jobs, and considerably less challenging engineering issues.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17938 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I can't take much credit. Millions of overpromising programmers have lowered the general expectation of reliable predictions. The usual response to "how long will it take?" is "how long is a piece of string?". I've never liked it, but it's an institution.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8015 posts Report Reply

  • Susannah Shepherd,

    The most useful advice? Have a door, shut it. Try to ensure that every partner, child and cat in your family understands that when the door is shut, you are Not At Home.

    Totally agree. Some are slower learners than others. One of our my more blazing domestic rows was when the in-laws used to come round for frequent long visits when my partner was home a lot during the day, and got very huffy that I didn't say more than 'hi' and head back into the office unless they came at lunchtime. This was apparently very very very rude on my part, and my pointing out that they didn't go to my brother-in-law's building site twice a week and expect him to drop everything didn't go down too well...

    Other than that, I don't have any tips that haven't been raised already, but here's the tips I'd most endorse, especially for a newbie at working from home:
    * Create a work-only work space, even if it's just a corner you can throw a rug over at the end of the day.
    * If you can, have a dedicated work computer. If that's not possible, create a separate profile with all the distractions purged from the start-up menu and desktop. This was much easier in the days of dial-up; I used to have a work profile with the dial-up icon hidden so I had to go digging for it to fire up the internet.
    * If your work is spreading out over 12 / 14 / 16 hours a day, or you feel like you're not actually doing anything at all, keep a time sheet. If you spend 30 minutes on Facebook, write it down. Remember if you're at the office, you're unlikely to spend 100% of your time actually *working*.
    * Research libraries are particularly good if you need a quiet space to focus!

    Wellington • Since Jan 2008 • 57 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    Motivation and some organisation is also necessary for making the best of an academic life, which operates on a form of virtue ethics rather than time-keeping or time-serving. I always have problems with taking the annual leave I am entitled to, as there is no sharp division between work and leisure components as there is for most folk--and the so-called ‘university year’ of ftf teaching is 24 weeks out of 52. It’s a grand life!

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Susannah Shepherd,

    Create a work-only work space, even if it’s just a corner you can throw a rug over at the end of the day.

    And, if you can, set it up properly. Get that really comfy chair, get a desk with plenty of space, if you have a laptop get a proper (i.e. not the cheapest) mouse and keyboard. You're going to be spending a very significant portion of your day there; investments in set-up can make huge differences to your willingness to spend time there later on. It'll probably be nicer than most workplaces, but you need the extra motivation.

    I always have problems with taking the annual leave I am entitled to, as there is no sharp division between work and leisure components as there is for most folk

    It was a public holiday in Massachusetts last week. I forgot about it until it was midday and no-one else had come into the lab, because I've got so used to the idea that holiays are sort of optional, unless it's Christmas or something.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2087 posts Report Reply

  • richard,

    I have my own office with a solid wooden door, several bookshelves, a comfy reading chair, and desk chair, a big monitor, and a ten foot window (and a couple of diggers outside in the street right now – no rose without a thorn), but I can still get distracted.

    But this – http://anti-social.cc/ – is worth every penny. I actually thought about coding something almost identical on my own, and while it is trivial to sidestep (hello iOS) I never actually do, unless I get an instant message (which I need to keep alive for actual work conversations) from my spouse with a must-see Tweet inside it.

    Not sure how it would work for those who are obliged to Tweet or Facebook professionally, but I like it a lot.

    Deflector shields to maximum. See you in three hours :-)

    Not looking for New Engla… • Since Nov 2006 • 254 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Some of us wear tracksuit pants

    Sure we believe you have pants on

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3108 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    It was a public holiday in Massachusetts last week. I forgot about it until it was midday and no-one else had come into the lab, because I've got so used to the idea that holiays are sort of optional, unless it's Christmas or something.

    Yes, my business partner touted as a great bonus to home-work (he does it too) that you weren't stuck with the public holiday seasons and could avoid all the traffic, high fares and crowds. But what I found happening was:

    a) I didn't take many holidays
    b) When I did take holidays, it was rather dull because everyone else was working.

    I've come to realize that I actually like taking holidays at the same time as everyone else. I took Easter on Waiheke, my parents got to spend a lot more time with the kids and I went fishing every day with Dad. A number of other people I know were there too so there were plenty of social meetups. And the Jazz festival was on.

    Edit: I do recognize that international travel might be much better had off-peak, the cost savings are compelling and seeing people you know is less likely, unless you pre-arrange it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8015 posts Report Reply

  • recordari, in reply to richard,

    But this – http://anti-social.cc/ – is worth every penny.

    With Anti-Social, you’ll be amazed how much you get done when you turn off your friends.

    But I don't want to turn off my friends, I want to turn them on. Ba-doom, what?

    But seriously, if you are sufficiently self-disciplined to install and then run that programme, then you are probably more than half way there, no?

    As you will feel a deep sense of shame for rebooting just to waste time on Twitter, you’re unlikely to cheat.

    Puh-lees! One may not even be wearing pants, so you think this will shame us?

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    Last night, I did paying work while watching Jersey Shore. I don't even know what "shame" means.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3582 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Danielle,

    I don’t even know what “shame” means

    It's that feeling you get when you admit you watch Jersey Shore :P

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3108 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to Danielle,

    Last night, I did paying work while watching Jersey Shore.

    Yeah, you'd have to pay me to watch Jersey Shore too.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    Pfffft. You people, with your "taste" and "shame" and "self-respect" and whatnot.

    (I do have a semi-serious defence of Jersey Shore, but I imagine it would be rather wasted here. :) )

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3582 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to recordari,

    With Anti-Social, you’ll be amazed how much you get done when you turn off your friends.

    I have such a weird job. Ducking between Twitter, here and other forums is actually part of the description. At the least, it fills in the time between my short, intense spells of creative productivity.

    Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17938 posts Report Reply

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 4 Newer→ Last

Post your response…

Please sign in using your Public Address credentials…

Login

You may also create an account or retrieve your password.