Adventures in brine

A blog about code, beer, and bread.

Half-arsed working techniques

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##TL;DR "Half-arsed", as in reducing possibility of getting a fat arse by working more efficiently. It's a pun, I'm funny like that.

##Introduction I recently watched this video Are You Sitting Too Much? and the followup 9 Tips To Save Your Life. Please watch them if you sit for long periods of time, they're not long and you learn a lot.

I really had no idea, which is irritating because it makes perfect sense. It makes perfect sense, because even in my ignorance, I have already seen the benefits yielded from breaking up my work. Having unwittingly lost half a stone this year, without changing my diet (next year's resolution).

The tips in the second video are insightful, but didn't really speak to my specific situation. So, I've come up with a few ideas for how I might tackle the issue.

##Use a Timer We use a service called Freckle to track the time we spend on projects. On the Mac app at least, the timer beeps once an hour; this I believe is there to indicate that the timer is still running. It seems to me though, that it is also a great reminder to get up and stretch your legs for five minutes.

Now, while I adore Freckle and it's beautiful reporting, it is quite expensive. $49 per month for a team of five. I strive for greater efficiency, if only so one day I feel I can survive the week without Freckle. It is certainly too much to spend on a simple timer to remind you to get up and have a wander.

If I was without Freckle and facing this issue, I'd recognise my personal cycles of work differ at different times during the day. That is to say, that I would be much aggrieved if I was interrupted from my work after a mere hour, first thing in the morning, but would take such a distraction as a blessing mid-afternoon. Instead, I'd chop my day into sprints of different lengths, and set up timers accordingly. This would have the extra benefit of adding a bit more structure to my day, by understanding when I'm more effective at longer or shorter tasks.

##Work Standing I've long enjoyed the idea of these adjustable desks, that allow you to work seated or standing. They are very expensive though and I wonder how I would actually get on coding for long periods of time, while standing.

Coding aside, I think a lot of activities can benefit from standing.

###Catch Up Meetings The most obvious example is meetings. Quick catch up meetings have more impact when standing, the same meeting while seated would take twice as long.

###Phone calls I'm a pacer on the phone, so this is an easy one for me. It can be quite distracting for others, but I'll get most of my steps throughout the day just by talking on the phone.

###Poor man's adjustable desk This is crazy idea I've had, that I think I'd like to trial. I don't think I'd code standing up, but there is a bunch of other stuff that I would do on a computer while standing. Clearing up email, project management, or testing comes to mind.

The premise of my idea is that my development work requires a beast of a machine, but other tasks may not. I'd have two desks, or at least have access to a second.

####Desk One Desk One, as it has always been, comfy with massive computer in front of me.

####Desk Two More like a shelf or a "hot desking" coffee shop table at standing height, with an inexpensive laptop (like a Chromebook) setup.

Every time you want to perform an admin task, you get up and walk to your admin shelf. It really doesn't need to be much more than that, if you're going to start leaning, you're using the space for the wrong task.

##Conclusion I'm really excited about setting up sprints. I like that I'd be able communicate clearer expectations of when I'm approachable to my co-workers, after understanding my own process more clearly.

I'm also falling in love with the idea of an admin shelf, or maybe not an admin shelf, maybe an area that is more communal. A standing desk area, that by virtue of standing there says, "Hey I'm approachable".

##Conclusion on Conclusion What's weird about my conclusion, is that it doesn't talk about my ideas in context of standing more; which is the point of the post. I seem to be more concerned with disruptions in my workflow and being approachable to my co-workers. I think that's interesting, because for me, it's all interconnected.

By playing with these techniques, I don't just prevent the onset of having a fat arse, I also become more productive and collaborative in my work.