Working from Home Effectively

Published On: 2020-04-24By:

Some of us have been lucky enough to have  already been working from home (WFH) prior to the world events.  This has allowed most of us the ability to easily ready  our homes fit our needs of family members whom now must also work from home  For those that have suddenly been thrusted over the past weeks into the working from home lifestyle, here are some tips that I’ve learned over the last 2.5 years being home 100% of the time.   I blogged about this a few years ago when I started with Denny Cherry & Associates Consulting so some of these are updates.

Keep a Schedule & Routine

This is still probably one of the most important aspects of working from home.  Prior to coming into the WFH realm I worked a normal 8-5 job. It required me to be in the office before 8, so I decided when I switched I would keep to the same schedule. I continue to wake up at the same time and report to my desk at the same time ready to tackle the day every day.  Now, depending on what I have going on, it’s nice to be able  to wake up earlier  (like 5:30AM) so that I have some extra time to focus on things.   If I have my sons with me (for those that might be co-parenting), that also allows me to focus without having to tend to their needs. My advice is to keep whatever schedule best works for you and your employer.  Thankfully, my employer allows me to set my own schedule and manage my own time which is helpful.  Having that flexibility makes things easier on me as a work from home employee.

Beyond keeping a consistent schedule, keep a consistent routine as well.  As I mentioned, I get up about the same time.  While I *could* wear pajamas or whatever I wanted to work, I choose not to.  I get up, get showered, shave, brush teeth, etc and get fully dressed so that I’m ready for the day.  I find this makes me more productive. Once ready, I go downstairs for my coffee and usually for some breakfast.  Sometimes I’ll take food to my desk but usually I sit at my kitchen table and watch the world wake up while I enjoy my first cup of coffee.  Then it’s time to go to the “office”.  Warning the commute can be horrible so watch out for traffic jams (kids or pets) in the hallways and stairwell.  13 seconds later, I’m at my desk ready to get started.  Once there, I’ll start on any daily tasks that I need to get done and then continue on any project work I might have on my plate.

Fast forward to lunch. It’s a 50/50 chance that I’ll eat lunch at my desk.  Some days I do, others I don’t.  It’s important to take breaks away from your desk as it’s really easy to get sucked into working all the time.  My advice is to make sure to take a break for lunch and try to disconnect as much as possible.  Some days, for me, I’ll make lunch and play Xbox (Titan Fall 2), or  go for a walk, or just read a book while eating.

Come evening time, I wrap things up somewhere between 4-5PM.   Some days it’s later and some days it’s earlier usually because of kid responsibilities.  Some Due to the nature of my job some evenings I must work later due to time zones and sometimes even on the weekends due to system availability.  I recognize that it is all part of the job, however, I’m able to find a balance that works for me while maintain any responsibilities I might have.

Workspace

When I joined with Denny Cherry & Associates Consulting (DCAC), I invested some cash into my workspace.  I tend to like a clean and clutter free desk, so I invested in a good quality standing desk from Uplift Desk.  I started out with 2-27” monitors and operated with that for quite a long time.  Within the past 6 months I further invested in an additional 27” monitor so now I have three.  I have found that having three monitors (actually 4 if I used the laptop itself) allows me to have a better workflow in my daily tasks.  You might have to play with configurations or ideas, but don’t be afraid to invest (if you can) in things that help you work from home.

Of course, you can invest a lot of money into your workspace.  I know people have to walls of monitors, expensive desk chairs, extreme web camera setups, and the list goes on.  Do what you can to make it your space.  At times I’ll even work on my secondary machine standing at my kitchen bar because it works.  You don’t have to drop a ton of money and there are ways to make it work with minimal amounts of money.

Here I am just using a laptop tray that I bought off of Amazon to allow me to have a “mobile standing point” on just about any flat surface.  I find that mixing up my location from time to time help to get my mind focused on the task at hand.

Communications

Maintaining communication with your colleagues as well as your family is important, especially during this time of chaos. Without it the self-isolation feeling can be overwhelming. For me this means I check up on my family (they all live at least 6 hours away) on a semi-weekly basis to ensure that they are healthy and are doing as best as possible. Having peace of mind that they are doing well helps me better focus on work, and keeps me from getting distracted by worrying about them. Thankfully with my work I am able to take breaks and have a phone conversation, or I’ll even have a video call with them via Skype or FaceTime.

Beyond just family, make sure to have open dialogs with your managers on your status.  If you are struggling with things, let them know.  They cannot help resolve any issues if they don’t know they even exist.  I have a check-in with Denny once or twice a month just to see how things are going.  Now, at DCAC, we chat constantly via Teams.  During the day, evenings, weekends, or even holidays usually someone on the team is talking.  This makes is much easier to have some interaction and feel connected to the team.

Distractions

Working from home comes with a whole new set of distractions, namely the television.  I have found that, thankfully, the television remains off during my working time (I have a TV in my office) and I can count on one hand the number of times it’s been on while I’m working.  When I first started working from home, I had a real feeling that TV would be a huge distraction for me.  Turns out that wasn’t my distraction.  My distraction normally is the internet.  Twitter, social media, blogs, news, etc.  For me, it can be a quicksand place to get lost in and the next thing you know 3 hours have gone by.

Here are some things I use to help keep those in check:

  • Focus Assist – For Windows users, try the Focus assist. You can adjust the focus to only show certain alerts or none.  This helps me to block out any unwanted alerts for a period.  I don’t know if Apple products have something similar.
  • Internet Traffic – For Chrome (or Edge) users – StayFocusd will provide allotment of time to browse certain websites, like YouTube for example. Once you have burned through you allotted amount of time, it blocks that site until the next day.  Of course, there are way around this, but it helps to keep you in check.
  • Set Do Not Disturb (DND) – These days we are inundated with communication tools. Slack, Teams, Skype, Hangouts, pick one.   If you need time to focus, don’t be afraid to set your status on all these tools to “Do Not Disturb”.  This will let your teammates know to not bug you or just send you an email.  Respect that DND and don’t answer things unless they are critical.  I’ll even set my iPhone to DND so that I won’t get text messages or phone calls during that time.
  • Close Your Email –Really, it is ok to close your email client and not have it open. There have been studies done about the amount of time that gets wasted when you address an email and try to resume what you were focused on.  It’ll be Okay to close your email, trust me.  The messages will be there for when you get back to it.  If it’s an emergency most likely the person will call you and then you can handle it.

Summary

The way in which you work has probably shifted.  It takes time to adapt and get used to the new “normal.  I know that was the case when I shifted to working from home 100% of the time.  Now that you’ve been working from home for a bit, what has been your experience so far?  What distractions do you have to contend with and how do you handle them?  Let me know by leaving comments!

© 2020, John Morehouse. All rights reserved.

Contact the Author | Contact DCAC

Working from Home Effectively

Published On: By:

Some of us have been lucky enough to have  already been working from home (WFH) prior to the world events.  This has allowed most of us the ability to easily ready  our homes fit our needs of family members whom now must also work from home  For those that have suddenly been thrusted over the past weeks into the working from home lifestyle, here are some tips that I’ve learned over the last 2.5 years being home 100% of the time.   I blogged about this a few years ago when I started with Denny Cherry & Associates Consulting so some of these are updates.

Keep a Schedule & Routine

This is still probably one of the most important aspects of working from home.  Prior to coming into the WFH realm I worked a normal 8-5 job. It required me to be in the office before 8, so I decided when I switched I would keep to the same schedule. I continue to wake up at the same time and report to my desk at the same time ready to tackle the day every day.  Now, depending on what I have going on, it’s nice to be able  to wake up earlier  (like 5:30AM) so that I have some extra time to focus on things.   If I have my sons with me (for those that might be co-parenting), that also allows me to focus without having to tend to their needs. My advice is to keep whatever schedule best works for you and your employer.  Thankfully, my employer allows me to set my own schedule and manage my own time which is helpful.  Having that flexibility makes things easier on me as a work from home employee.

Beyond keeping a consistent schedule, keep a consistent routine as well.  As I mentioned, I get up about the same time.  While I *could* wear pajamas or whatever I wanted to work, I choose not to.  I get up, get showered, shave, brush teeth, etc and get fully dressed so that I’m ready for the day.  I find this makes me more productive. Once ready, I go downstairs for my coffee and usually for some breakfast.  Sometimes I’ll take food to my desk but usually I sit at my kitchen table and watch the world wake up while I enjoy my first cup of coffee.  Then it’s time to go to the “office”.  Warning the commute can be horrible so watch out for traffic jams (kids or pets) in the hallways and stairwell.  13 seconds later, I’m at my desk ready to get started.  Once there, I’ll start on any daily tasks that I need to get done and then continue on any project work I might have on my plate.

Fast forward to lunch. It’s a 50/50 chance that I’ll eat lunch at my desk.  Some days I do, others I don’t.  It’s important to take breaks away from your desk as it’s really easy to get sucked into working all the time.  My advice is to make sure to take a break for lunch and try to disconnect as much as possible.  Some days, for me, I’ll make lunch and play Xbox (Titan Fall 2), or  go for a walk, or just read a book while eating.

Come evening time, I wrap things up somewhere between 4-5PM.   Some days it’s later and some days it’s earlier usually because of kid responsibilities.  Some Due to the nature of my job some evenings I must work later due to time zones and sometimes even on the weekends due to system availability.  I recognize that it is all part of the job, however, I’m able to find a balance that works for me while maintain any responsibilities I might have.

Workspace

When I joined with Denny Cherry & Associates Consulting (DCAC), I invested some cash into my workspace.  I tend to like a clean and clutter free desk, so I invested in a good quality standing desk from Uplift Desk.  I started out with 2-27” monitors and operated with that for quite a long time.  Within the past 6 months I further invested in an additional 27” monitor so now I have three.  I have found that having three monitors (actually 4 if I used the laptop itself) allows me to have a better workflow in my daily tasks.  You might have to play with configurations or ideas, but don’t be afraid to invest (if you can) in things that help you work from home.

Of course, you can invest a lot of money into your workspace.  I know people have to walls of monitors, expensive desk chairs, extreme web camera setups, and the list goes on.  Do what you can to make it your space.  At times I’ll even work on my secondary machine standing at my kitchen bar because it works.  You don’t have to drop a ton of money and there are ways to make it work with minimal amounts of money.

Here I am just using a laptop tray that I bought off of Amazon to allow me to have a “mobile standing point” on just about any flat surface.  I find that mixing up my location from time to time help to get my mind focused on the task at hand.

Communications

Maintaining communication with your colleagues as well as your family is important, especially during this time of chaos. Without it the self-isolation feeling can be overwhelming. For me this means I check up on my family (they all live at least 6 hours away) on a semi-weekly basis to ensure that they are healthy and are doing as best as possible. Having peace of mind that they are doing well helps me better focus on work, and keeps me from getting distracted by worrying about them. Thankfully with my work I am able to take breaks and have a phone conversation, or I’ll even have a video call with them via Skype or FaceTime.

Beyond just family, make sure to have open dialogs with your managers on your status.  If you are struggling with things, let them know.  They cannot help resolve any issues if they don’t know they even exist.  I have a check-in with Denny once or twice a month just to see how things are going.  Now, at DCAC, we chat constantly via Teams.  During the day, evenings, weekends, or even holidays usually someone on the team is talking.  This makes is much easier to have some interaction and feel connected to the team.

Distractions

Working from home comes with a whole new set of distractions, namely the television.  I have found that, thankfully, the television remains off during my working time (I have a TV in my office) and I can count on one hand the number of times it’s been on while I’m working.  When I first started working from home, I had a real feeling that TV would be a huge distraction for me.  Turns out that wasn’t my distraction.  My distraction normally is the internet.  Twitter, social media, blogs, news, etc.  For me, it can be a quicksand place to get lost in and the next thing you know 3 hours have gone by.

Here are some things I use to help keep those in check:

  • Focus Assist – For Windows users, try the Focus assist. You can adjust the focus to only show certain alerts or none.  This helps me to block out any unwanted alerts for a period.  I don’t know if Apple products have something similar.
  • Internet Traffic – For Chrome (or Edge) users – StayFocusd will provide allotment of time to browse certain websites, like YouTube for example. Once you have burned through you allotted amount of time, it blocks that site until the next day.  Of course, there are way around this, but it helps to keep you in check.
  • Set Do Not Disturb (DND) – These days we are inundated with communication tools. Slack, Teams, Skype, Hangouts, pick one.   If you need time to focus, don’t be afraid to set your status on all these tools to “Do Not Disturb”.  This will let your teammates know to not bug you or just send you an email.  Respect that DND and don’t answer things unless they are critical.  I’ll even set my iPhone to DND so that I won’t get text messages or phone calls during that time.
  • Close Your Email –Really, it is ok to close your email client and not have it open. There have been studies done about the amount of time that gets wasted when you address an email and try to resume what you were focused on.  It’ll be Okay to close your email, trust me.  The messages will be there for when you get back to it.  If it’s an emergency most likely the person will call you and then you can handle it.

Summary

The way in which you work has probably shifted.  It takes time to adapt and get used to the new “normal.  I know that was the case when I shifted to working from home 100% of the time.  Now that you’ve been working from home for a bit, what has been your experience so far?  What distractions do you have to contend with and how do you handle them?  Let me know by leaving comments!

© 2020, John Morehouse. All rights reserved.

Contact the Author | Contact DCAC

Working from Home Effectively

Published On: By:

Some of us have been lucky enough to have  already been working from home (WFH) prior to the world events.  This has allowed most of us the ability to easily ready  our homes fit our needs of family members whom now must also work from home  For those that have suddenly been thrusted over the past weeks into the working from home lifestyle, here are some tips that I’ve learned over the last 2.5 years being home 100% of the time.   I blogged about this a few years ago when I started with Denny Cherry & Associates Consulting so some of these are updates.

Keep a Schedule & Routine

This is still probably one of the most important aspects of working from home.  Prior to coming into the WFH realm I worked a normal 8-5 job. It required me to be in the office before 8, so I decided when I switched I would keep to the same schedule. I continue to wake up at the same time and report to my desk at the same time ready to tackle the day every day.  Now, depending on what I have going on, it’s nice to be able  to wake up earlier  (like 5:30AM) so that I have some extra time to focus on things.   If I have my sons with me (for those that might be co-parenting), that also allows me to focus without having to tend to their needs. My advice is to keep whatever schedule best works for you and your employer.  Thankfully, my employer allows me to set my own schedule and manage my own time which is helpful.  Having that flexibility makes things easier on me as a work from home employee.

Beyond keeping a consistent schedule, keep a consistent routine as well.  As I mentioned, I get up about the same time.  While I *could* wear pajamas or whatever I wanted to work, I choose not to.  I get up, get showered, shave, brush teeth, etc and get fully dressed so that I’m ready for the day.  I find this makes me more productive. Once ready, I go downstairs for my coffee and usually for some breakfast.  Sometimes I’ll take food to my desk but usually I sit at my kitchen table and watch the world wake up while I enjoy my first cup of coffee.  Then it’s time to go to the “office”.  Warning the commute can be horrible so watch out for traffic jams (kids or pets) in the hallways and stairwell.  13 seconds later, I’m at my desk ready to get started.  Once there, I’ll start on any daily tasks that I need to get done and then continue on any project work I might have on my plate.

Fast forward to lunch. It’s a 50/50 chance that I’ll eat lunch at my desk.  Some days I do, others I don’t.  It’s important to take breaks away from your desk as it’s really easy to get sucked into working all the time.  My advice is to make sure to take a break for lunch and try to disconnect as much as possible.  Some days, for me, I’ll make lunch and play Xbox (Titan Fall 2), or  go for a walk, or just read a book while eating.

Come evening time, I wrap things up somewhere between 4-5PM.   Some days it’s later and some days it’s earlier usually because of kid responsibilities.  Some Due to the nature of my job some evenings I must work later due to time zones and sometimes even on the weekends due to system availability.  I recognize that it is all part of the job, however, I’m able to find a balance that works for me while maintain any responsibilities I might have.

Workspace

When I joined with Denny Cherry & Associates Consulting (DCAC), I invested some cash into my workspace.  I tend to like a clean and clutter free desk, so I invested in a good quality standing desk from Uplift Desk.  I started out with 2-27” monitors and operated with that for quite a long time.  Within the past 6 months I further invested in an additional 27” monitor so now I have three.  I have found that having three monitors (actually 4 if I used the laptop itself) allows me to have a better workflow in my daily tasks.  You might have to play with configurations or ideas, but don’t be afraid to invest (if you can) in things that help you work from home.

Of course, you can invest a lot of money into your workspace.  I know people have to walls of monitors, expensive desk chairs, extreme web camera setups, and the list goes on.  Do what you can to make it your space.  At times I’ll even work on my secondary machine standing at my kitchen bar because it works.  You don’t have to drop a ton of money and there are ways to make it work with minimal amounts of money.

Here I am just using a laptop tray that I bought off of Amazon to allow me to have a “mobile standing point” on just about any flat surface.  I find that mixing up my location from time to time help to get my mind focused on the task at hand.

Communications

Maintaining communication with your colleagues as well as your family is important, especially during this time of chaos. Without it the self-isolation feeling can be overwhelming. For me this means I check up on my family (they all live at least 6 hours away) on a semi-weekly basis to ensure that they are healthy and are doing as best as possible. Having peace of mind that they are doing well helps me better focus on work, and keeps me from getting distracted by worrying about them. Thankfully with my work I am able to take breaks and have a phone conversation, or I’ll even have a video call with them via Skype or FaceTime.

Beyond just family, make sure to have open dialogs with your managers on your status.  If you are struggling with things, let them know.  They cannot help resolve any issues if they don’t know they even exist.  I have a check-in with Denny once or twice a month just to see how things are going.  Now, at DCAC, we chat constantly via Teams.  During the day, evenings, weekends, or even holidays usually someone on the team is talking.  This makes is much easier to have some interaction and feel connected to the team.

Distractions

Working from home comes with a whole new set of distractions, namely the television.  I have found that, thankfully, the television remains off during my working time (I have a TV in my office) and I can count on one hand the number of times it’s been on while I’m working.  When I first started working from home, I had a real feeling that TV would be a huge distraction for me.  Turns out that wasn’t my distraction.  My distraction normally is the internet.  Twitter, social media, blogs, news, etc.  For me, it can be a quicksand place to get lost in and the next thing you know 3 hours have gone by.

Here are some things I use to help keep those in check:

  • Focus Assist – For Windows users, try the Focus assist. You can adjust the focus to only show certain alerts or none.  This helps me to block out any unwanted alerts for a period.  I don’t know if Apple products have something similar.
  • Internet Traffic – For Chrome (or Edge) users – StayFocusd will provide allotment of time to browse certain websites, like YouTube for example. Once you have burned through you allotted amount of time, it blocks that site until the next day.  Of course, there are way around this, but it helps to keep you in check.
  • Set Do Not Disturb (DND) – These days we are inundated with communication tools. Slack, Teams, Skype, Hangouts, pick one.   If you need time to focus, don’t be afraid to set your status on all these tools to “Do Not Disturb”.  This will let your teammates know to not bug you or just send you an email.  Respect that DND and don’t answer things unless they are critical.  I’ll even set my iPhone to DND so that I won’t get text messages or phone calls during that time.
  • Close Your Email –Really, it is ok to close your email client and not have it open. There have been studies done about the amount of time that gets wasted when you address an email and try to resume what you were focused on.  It’ll be Okay to close your email, trust me.  The messages will be there for when you get back to it.  If it’s an emergency most likely the person will call you and then you can handle it.

Summary

The way in which you work has probably shifted.  It takes time to adapt and get used to the new “normal.  I know that was the case when I shifted to working from home 100% of the time.  Now that you’ve been working from home for a bit, what has been your experience so far?  What distractions do you have to contend with and how do you handle them?  Let me know by leaving comments!

© 2020, John Morehouse. All rights reserved.

Contact the Author | Contact DCAC

Azure SQL Database: Great Choice for Modern Cloud Applications

Published On: 2020-03-27By:

Microsoft offers several options for moving your SQL Server workloads to Azure. If you’re looking to host modern cloud applications, your best option is Azure SQL Database Service. For an overview of the business benefits of using data infrastructure services in the cloud, download “Future-Proof Your Data Infrastructure with Azure: A Business Case for Database Administrators.”

Azure SQL Database is a general-purpose relational database based on the latest Enterprise Edition of SQL Server. A fully managed SQL database engine, Azure SQL Database service is your platform as a service solution. That means you don’t have to worry about updates, patching, or managing the hardware, and it’s a great option when you need to get to market fast.

Within Azure SQL Database service, you have a couple of deployment options.

Single Databases

A single database is one with its own set of resources, including guaranteed compute size. A single database is portable and isolated from other databases. It is also optimized for the development of cloud-based applications.  A serverless option is available which allows the database to “spin down”.  When a database spins down, you not charged for compute resources only for consumed storage.  Or you can go with a provisioned model where compute resources are available to your application at all times.

The dynamic scalability of a single database makes it a great option when you’re building your first app in the cloud. You can develop your app on a small, single database at a low cost in the serverless compute tier or a small compute size in the provisioned compute tier, and then change the compute or service tier at any time without downtime.

SQL Database Elastic Pool

A SQL Database elastic pool is a set of resources that are shared by a collection of databases and managed via a database server. If you need to manage and scale multiple databases that have fluctuating usage, elastic pools are a simple and cost-effective way to do so. You can easily move single databases in and out of an elastic pool as well as limit resources to individual databases so as to not consume the entire pool. Like single databases, elastic pools are optimized for the development of new cloud-based applications but using the multi-tenant software as a service model.

Whether you choose a single database or an elastic pool, before you create an Azure SQL Database, you must first create an Azure SQL Database server. As the central administrative point for multiple single or pooled databases, the Azure SQL Database server is used to manage logins, backups, firewall rules, auditing rules, threat detection policies, active geo-replication, and fail-over groups.

Unlike in the on-premises world, a SQL Database server is distinct from a SQL Server instance. While all databases managed by a SQL Database server are created within the same region, the SQL Database service makes no guarantees regarding the location of the databases in relation to the server that manages them. Nor does the SQL Database server expose any instance-level access or features. Finally, a SQL Database server can be in a different region than its resource group.

Azure SQL Database service is ideal for moving or building a modern, cloud-based application in Azure. The options within the service are specifically built and optimized for cloud environments. If you want to learn more about moving SQL Server to the cloud, download “Future-Proof Your Data Infrastructure with Azure: A Business Case for Database Administrators.”

© 2020, John Morehouse. All rights reserved.

Contact the Author | Contact DCAC
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