How I Worked Last Wednesday

Most weeks I go to the warehouse on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday, leaving Wednesday and Thursday to – in theory – work from home. I say “in theory” because those days always get filled with errands and the gym and lunches with friends, especially lately because during the holidays I was at the warehouse more often and didn’t get around to a lot of that type of stuff.

Case in point, last Wednesday. Here’s how my day unfolded:

  • 6 AM –  Wake up, shower, eat.
  • 7:30 AM – head off to the VW dealership to get my car looked at.  Brought my computer along to hop on the wi-fi and get some work done.  Turns out there’s an issue with one of the sensors in the airbag system.  They have to order  a part.  I’ll be heading back this Wednesday.
  • 9:30 AM – back home, I answer some emails and grab a snack.
  • 11:30 AM – lunch with my cousin Brian, who is an up-and-coming Italian pop star (seriously).
  • 12:30 PM – I stop at Starbucks to get some work done.  Disappointed that they no longer sell the Berry Blossom White tea, I settle for a (mediocre) China Green Tea.
  • 3 PM – Rather than driving all the way back home (~30 min drive), I decide to drive just a few minutes over to my parents, arriving hours early for our usual Wednesday night dinner.
  • 7:30 PM – home and tired, I spend a little while on my computer and then relax for the night.

Why is this post-worthy?  Because  I had a shockingly productive work day.  One of the best work days I’ve had in a long time.  I had several 1-3 hour sprints where I was able to get a solid amount of work done.  Everywhere I went had free wi-fi.  From my apartment to VW, back to my apartment, to Starbucks, to my parents, and then back home again.  Each place I was able to flip open my laptop and work.

Since I work from only one machine (and prefer to keep doing so), the only difference between working at home and on the road is having my home-made docking station.  For all intents and purposes though, I’m equally as productive wherever I am.  Starbucks.  Warehouse.  Apartment.  Parents house.  Doesn’t matter.

10 years ago this wouldn’t have been possible.

I had this discussion with Greg and he thought it was more like 15 years.  But it wasn’t.  Wi-fi was not readily available 10 years ago.  10 years ago I was a freshman in college.  When I was a student, RPI was ranked the #1 most “connected” campus in the country by Princeton Review.  The campus was described as a “technological nirvana” in that story. Even there, circa 2000, we still had to carry ethernet cables with us and plug in to the  network at our desks when we got to class.  It wasn’t until 2003 or 2004 that the entire campus became wireless.

It really is crazy to think about how far we’ve come in such a short time.  Our business and our lifestyle wouldn’t have been possible just a few short years ago.

10 comments on How I Worked Last Wednesday

  1. Tim says:

    As you very well know I love the ability to live a functional mobile lifestyle, a number of factors contribute to this being viable now. Obviously the workplace has changed, in a “virtual” world you can log in from any where and work at any time, this is not ground breaking, but the mere fact that more and more intangible businesses are successfully being derived from this new “virtual” model it removes the real-estate from the equation entirely. This is a pretty obvious Tim Ferriss development, who’s to say if things would have shifted this way without him, most ground breaking concepts are painfully obvious when they’ve been explained, but he definitely jump started a new wave of tech entrepreneurs. It’s like a micro-dotcom era, similar developments but more people in the game making good money, instead of an extremely small handful making a fortune.

    The other HUGE development that has grown to influence this new lifestyle is the technology, it was not long ago that computers as a whole weren’t really that great. Factor in the need to go mobile and things just got even worse, software and OS’s have gotten leaner and more efficient and computers have gotten to the point that their capabilities are greater then the average users needs. About five years ago you would not have your choice of competent desktop or laptop for about the same price, and that price was probably higher then it is now, factor in more Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, smartphones, etc…. I’m not that old, but I remember when it was fashionable to get email and you were not hit by a wave of anxiety if you left your house without your cellphone(because you didn’t have one!), now we dread dealing with email and we always have our cell phones with us.

    And I don’t care if Brian becomes a famous Italian Popstar, if he attacks me with celery again I’m going to come at him like a spider monkey!

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Classic. Gotta explain that story. Tim hates celery. Like he can’t be anywhere near it. His Twitter name is @Celeryhater. A few years ago I threw a party and, after he explained his fear of celery, my cousin decided to taunt him with it. Haha

  2. Dale Ting says:

    Isn’t it great? It’s really nice to be able to steal an hour of productivity whenever you can find it… Especially when you’re working full time. I can’t wait until the world is wifi. Or I’ll settle for affordable portable wifi.

    Question for you (sorry off topic), looking to put up a quick e-commerce site. Do you recommend anything that’s quick and easy?

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Dale – I’m a huge fan of Shopify. I’d love an opportunity to use it some day. I’ve heard a ton of great things. Simple and easy to set up, but very impressive advanced features and customizability if you need it.

  3. Interesting post Adam. Any secrets for staying productive when you work in these various locations?

    I often work in remote locations (Panera Bread is a favorite) but find myself easily distracted. I’ve found that wearing headphones is helpful, but anything special that you do?

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Good question Brian. I find that it’s helpful to find a project that I think will take about 2 hrs and make it my goal to finish it while I’m out. I save specific things for when I’m heading out. That keeps me focused because I feel disappointed if I leave without finishing.

      I also enjoy the caffeine that a cup of tea provides. The tea + listening to music often puts me in a zone and I sort of forget about my surroundings. I tend to have a harder time getting into a zone at home than I do when I’m out because when I’m home I’m distracted by doing laundry or what’s going on outside or something else.

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