Success at work and at home
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This was true even after we started hiring people. Sometimes, I would get everyone lunch or dinner. When we started pulling consistent coding weekends, we brought in the entire management team to serve the engineers: We brought them food, washed their cars, got oil changes, took in their dry cleaning, and arranged for childcare for their kids in the office.
The Truth About Working From Home
Thanks to all the effort, IronPort ultimately grew to be very large and successful over its seven years as an independent company, before being acquired by Cisco. It was an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime professional experience.
But those brightest years at work were without a doubt the darkest years at home. We had added baby number three just 18 months after the second one, which had forced us to make a decision about how to parent going forward. We did the math — and some soul-searching — and figured it would take two or more nannies and other staffers to allow us to keep pursuing work at our current pace. By the time we had three young children, I was rarely home.
Then, as IronPort grew, I was constantly on the road with customers, press, analysts, and of course, employees.
We ultimately got most of our revenue from outside of the U. There were several times when I was gone more than half of the days in a given month. She was now home speaking in monosyllabic words to kids all day and was starving for adult conversation by the time I got in the door. And that part about sitting on my ass in front of the TV with a cocktail? This ran counter to all of her efforts to teach the kids about pitching in together as a family. I was completely missing the point. I was setting such a great example at work, but such a terrible one at home, where I often acted like a self-important asshole.
Something had to change. After Cisco bought IronPort, I went to work for Cisco for a few years, then quit and took about 18 months off. During that time, my relationship with my family completely changed. I was packing lunches, driving carpools, making dinners; I began doing my part. With the help of my wife and other role-model dads, I essentially got re-programmed.
In , I joined Andreessen Horowitz as a partner. My wife and I have now been married for 22 years. During the IronPort days, when my children were young, I thought what I was doing at work was far more important and urgent than what was going on at home. I was often accused of being physically present without being mentally present.
My wife dropped a bunch of hints, but I was undeterred.
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When I left IronPort, I realized that committing to my family required disconnecting from work e. Cooking a great meal. Helping with a science project. Discussing the future with my partner.
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My wife and I have a weekly date night. My son and I are in a fantasy football league together. I cook with my daughters. Most times these have become immovable appointments on my calendar. It means that I can cut out for a family dinner and then go back to the office or have a late meeting afterwards. When I was traveling at IronPort, I would sometimes go for days without communicating at all.
Now that I am completely tuned in to the weekly family schedule, we plan and calendar family meals perhaps the single most important thing we do , pickups and drop-offs, and make adjustments on the fly. Can I pick something up on the way home? And so on. Now, multiple, daily phone and text check-ins are the norm. A home office needs to be established.
Sure, it could be a dream for some at the idea of working in bed or in the living room watching TV. Both options invite temptation. You need to create a distraction-free space that is able to give you privacy, and a place to focus on work for the day. This is especially important to have that space if you have kids at home. This is one of the most important work at home strategies. Like any job, you need to arrive on-time. Even if your job allows you the flexibility to work your own hours, having set hours to work gives you structure to maximize your day.
You have to be structured and focused working at home. Using Outlook, I tend to block out my daily calendar with the tasks of the day by priority. You have to be reachable during office hours.
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You have to know which method of communication is best and plan for it. I schedule blocks of time for emails, for phone calls, for conference calls and meetings. In my case, there are days when my month-old daughter is yelling as she runs up and down the hall, or is crying in her room next to my office when she goes for a nap. I like to listen to my favorite Hawaiian music channel, or open a tab for Simply Noise which is probably the best white noise generator on the Web.
You need to take your breaks. Get up and be active. This includes your lunch hour.
Work at Home Strategies For Success that May Surprise You - Small Business Trends
Get away from the computer. Go for a walk. Working from home is tricky. Walk out of the office and close the door. Keeping habits like these in your work day will increase your productivity. You will also become disciplined in separating your home life from you work life without sacrificing either. Stay focused on building a system that works for you knowing that it takes some time to get into a routine.