Last week I started a new job as a full time Python developer. Prior to that I worked for a computer games company called Evolution Studios. Evos - as it is affectionately known by employees - achieved a great deal of success with its latest game, Motorstorm, and it looks like they are set to keep producing hit games. There are a lot of great things about working for a games company, and being a games programmer gets you a lot of respect amongst certain circles (i.e. game geeks). So why give it up? Well over the last few years I have fallen in love with Python and I use it at every opportunity. Consequently I have been idly keeping an eye on the Python job board for Python related work and came across a job that I was perfectly suited for. It listed requirements for skills that I thought were incidental, and the work I would be been doing is not dissimilar to the type of Python coding I do to amuse myself in my spare time. Not sure if I can tell you about it yet, I would have to clear that with the boss. Did I say 'boss'? I meant client, because now I am now self-employed!
It was still a difficult decision though, but working from home swayed me. I can avoid a perilous drive up the M56 murderway and look after myself a little better (crunch time is not good for the waist-line)!
Working form home is not without it's challenges, but I have done it before so I think I know what I have in store for me. Here are my top tips for ditching the rat race and making a living developing software at home. I'll leave out obvious ones, these are tips that were hard lessons to learn.
- Get some sun. It's difficult to shake that groggy feeling and start work in the morning. I found that my brain just didn't kick in till after I had gone out for lunch, so I self medicated with ever increasing quantities of caffeine. This was folly. Caffeine is poison. Rich aromatic poison that goes down easy. But poison none the less. Far better is sunlight. All I had to do was open the damn curtains to trigger some kind of brain chemistry change that made me far more alert. Even in Scotland on a cloudy day there enough UV light to trigger wakefulness.
- Stick to a routine. Start work at the same time every day, but more importantly finish work at the same time. If you are working from home you will have more spare time. Use that time to look after yourself. Eat well, get some exercise and have fun. Otherwise you may as well go back to the 9-5.
- Tidy the frick up. Working from home is less fun when you are working in a pit of indescribable filth. Dishes should be cleaned within 24 hours (48 at the most) to avoid a health hazard. Rubbish (trash if you are American) must be taken out as soon as a bag is filled. Do not stock pile them until you can't get in to the kitchen. If you are a natural slob like me, you must train yourself to be tidy and hygienic. If you have a tidy friend go to his / her house and mimic what they do.
- Take long lunch breaks.Take at least an hour for lunch, 2 hours is even better. It makes the work feel like less of a stretch. It also lets you avoid working during that period after you eat where the body deprives your brain of oxygen because it has moved it to the gut. And if you can walk for a good part of your lunch break you wont get fat. Ever seen a fat postman?
- Blog. A new one on me, but I intend to do it more. You can delude yourself that people are remotely interested in what you are working on. It's also a good way to practice writing - an important life skill! And may help you make professional connections for future contracts.