How to Work From Home

We all know how to work from home. But how do you do it for weeks or months? How do you manage kids, work and a bit of time to decompress and keep up with events?

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Are your friends stressing about working from home? Here is some advice on how to do it. Click To TweetI’ve worked from home on many occasions.

Usually it’s due to a storm, an appointment or I have a contractor dropping by the house.

So I know how to work from home, but this time it’s different.

When you work from home for a day, a dip in productivity is to be expected. Usually there is something else going on and you don’t have access to everything you have in the office.

But, it’s only one day. That’s easy enough to make up.

Right now we’re not sure how many days we’ll have to work from home.

How do we maintain a level of productivity that allows the businesses we work for to be successful?

How to Work From Home

There are no two ways about this, it’s going to be a challenge. This is especially true if you have children at home.

Working with Children

Teenagers will get board but they have social media, TV and even a phone to talk with their friends.

You should get more quality work time from them and they should understand what is going on. In several states the governor is pretty clear about staying home and how dire the situation appears.

If you have youngsters, you will have your hands full. You know that and it probably freaks you out a bit.

How the hell are you going to do this?

It won’t be easy and you won’t be your old productive self. Any boss worth their salt will understand this and cut you some slack. It’s a two-way street.

You will need to be as organized and disciplined as possible. 

No one wants to park their kids in front of the TV all day and young kids can only entertain themselves for so long. You need a plan.

As a parent you are the entertainer in chief.

You may have home work for the kids or a good book collection for them. Still, you need to manage homework time and probably read those books.

If you have a back yard I would advise to get your kids outside each day. Maybe an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon. In my city the parks are closed, so you need a yard to go outside and play.

This outside time allows your kids to have fun and get some fresh air. Here in New England we are big believers in fresh air. Even in the middle of the winter my mother would often tell us to go outside.

The play time and fresh air will help your kids burn off some of that endless energy and help them burn off some of the stress we all feel.

Depending on how old they are, you may have to be outside the entire time with them. But you may be able to get in a quick call or two. Maybe even answer an email.

If your yard is safe and your kids are older, you might be able to do the dishes or do some cleaning while they are outside.

With kids outside I think it would be difficult to dig into a work project. You always need to keep an eye and an ear open when the kids are outside.

This physical activity is vital to your productivity.

It can be challenging to get kids to take a nap. Getting them outside to burn off some energy and stress is your best bet to get an hour or two of quiet time.

Time Management

Kids or no kids, you have to manage your time.

Morning Commute Crosswalk With no commute or need to get dressed or make lunch, it’s easy to loose track of time.

As a parent, you need the time before your kids get up to get as much work done as possible. When they take their naps you need to use that precious time to get things done.

If you live by your self or don’t have kids at home, I think it’s even easier for time to slip away. At least kids get up in the morning and force you to maintain some of your regular routine.

It’s easy to get distracted at home. There are chores to do, your family, the TV, the fridge. And who doesn’t want to go outside for a walk or run when it’s a nice day?

If you are home with your spouse and the kids, take turns working and taking care of the kids. You have to tag team on this.

Each of you needs quiet and alone time to focus on work. This isn’t mean or anti social. Each of you needs to contribute as much as you can to your organization and your organization is relying on you.

It would be selfish to expect your spouse to neglect their job while you work away all day.

Getting out of bed at a regular time and getting dressed for work will help you get into the right frame of mind. If you can shower without waking the kids or your spouse, that is always a good idea!

If your kids see you dressed for work, they are more likely to understand that this is not an extended stay cation.

Sleep Management

It’s important to go to bed at your normal time. This helps maintain part of your routine and some sense of order.

Getting your normal hours of sleep helps you stay healthy.  You also need your rest to take care of your kids and be productive in your job.

I certainly enjoy the opportunity to sleep in a bit on the weekends. Without your commute and the need to get the kids to school, you should be able to get some extra sleep in the morning.

You can use this time to your advantage. The entire family can get some extra sleep, just not as much for you.

With kids, this quiet time in the morning is  your golden hour. Grab some coffee and your laptop and get to work.

The kids will be coming for you soon!

When I go into the office, I find the early hours of the day to be my most productive. I can get through a ton of email and get on top of requests and issues.

So get some extra sleep but make sure you get up well before the kids.

A Quiet Place all Your Own

Work From Home OfficeAfter figuring out how to take care of the kids, this is probably the most important thing.

You really need a place where you can set up your computer, phone and papers.

Some people can work on a smart phone. Some people have a work laptop and a cell phone.

My company is fairly sophisticated. We can forward our phones to our laptops and use a headset or we can forward calls to our cell phones.

All of us also use two screens in the office. On a normal work from home day I just have my laptop.

Over the weekend I found an old LCD display in the basement. I thought I had two. Now I have my laptop and a 1990’s 17″ display. It’s better than 15.4″ of real estate.

We can also access all of our applications, tools and data from home or anywhere in the world.

Even with all of this, I have paper! I have a note book and things I’ve printed out for reference.

WomI’ve taken over the dinning room and my wife has the kitchen. We’re only about ten feet away from each other so simultaneous conference calls should be fun!

What ever space you can claim as your own is vital.

We may be in this for a while and you need a place where you can set up and leave your stuff there if possible.

Working from Home Recap

If you have kids, you have to figure that part out first. If you are a single parent try to work something out with you manager or company.

We are all in this together. If your manager knows you have kids and still demands eight hours of highly productive time, you may want to start looking around.

Time management and maintaining a routine are important. You need to spend as much time doing productive work as possible.

You also have to make sure you don’t slip into a twelve-hour work day. Your productivity is not going to be 100% and you may feel you need to extend your day to compensate.

But we don’t know how long this situation will last. Can you imagine eight or twelve weeks of twelve-hour days? You need some time every day to decompress and spend time with your family or call them.

We’re going to be isolated enough, so manage your work and personal time.

Even if you can only get the kitchen table, find a way to own it. People can eat elsewhere. Use a shopping or tote bag to collect your papers and work material if you do have to give up your work space.

A designated work space and a designated work time are crucial to maintaining your productivity.

For those of us with older kids or no kids, this will be a challenging time. There are so many things to be worried about.

If you have young kids work something out with your boss right away. There needs to be an understanding and expectations need to be established and possibly revisited.

Maintaining some of your normal routine helps with your productivity. Maintaining some structure to your schedule will also help your kids cope

This is new territory for all of us.

Stay Healthy my Friends,

Andy

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How to Avoid Recycling

Too busy to recycle? Skeptical of the whole recycling thing? Here are a few handy tips to help you avoid recycling.

Most Americans recycle but many still prefer to avoid recycling.

For some people it takes too much effort, recycling isn’t available in their area or they have some aversion to the whole idea.

An EPA fact sheet1 released in 2016 shows that 34.6% of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) was recycled or composted in 2014.

While this is up from single digits as late as 1980, it still means that almost two-thirds of our MSW is land-filled or incinerated. This report does not address how much of our trash ends up in the environment.

It would be great if we could recycle 100% of our MSW, but even 50% seems a lofty goal.

We have seen in the news how several countries that used to accept our plastic for recycling no longer do so.

In Massachusetts the only glass recycling facility recently shut down due to lack of demand. With more microbreweries using cans instead of bottles, no one needs all of that glass.

It seems that the only option is to avoid recycling. If the trash isn’t there we don’t have to deal with it. What could be easier?

How to Avoid Recycling

How do we create less trash, or MSW, in our daily lives?

How do we create less trash without putting much effort into it?

I won’t pretend to have all the answers or that the following ideas will change the world overnight. But if each person can avoid some recycling, these small changes will add up.

How to avoid recycling at work

If my workplace is typical or average, I’d say most people are avoiding recycling already.

I work in Cambridge, MA also know as “The Republic of Cambridge.” While the citizens of Cambridge may be good recyclers, I’m dubious of the efforts of the people who own the building I work in.

Let me note that our building is “LEED Certified”2

While the building owners have clearly labeled some barrels for trash and some for recycling, that seems to be all that they do.

Most of my colleagues can’t tell the difference between the clearly labeled recycle and trash barrels. I see trash in the recycle bin and recyclables in the trash daily.

The people I work with are highly intelligent. If the building owners made some effort at education I have no doubt that my colleagues would catch on quickly.

I see the same thing at races. Most races recycle nothing. When they do have separate barrels,  most runners can’t tell the difference. Or don’t care.

Runners recycle,recycle anything

A few years ago one race hired a company to provide barrels for trash, recycle and compost.

Even with someone stationed at each “trash” location people still asked questions. Others tossed their banana peels into the recycle bin and wandered off.

Much like the people I work with, the runner demographic tends to be college educated and earn above median incomes. People who should know better.

So, what can we do at work?

The first thing is to actually use the correct barrels to dispose of your trash. Very little effort is required to make this change. That’s not avoiding recycling, but it is common sense.

Second, bring your own utensils.

cup, glass and utensils; recyclingMy company actually gave all employees a ceramic coffee mug several years ago, but still people use paper cups.

You can bring your own coffee mug to work. Most of us have more than we can use at home.

If you work 200 days a year and have two cups of coffee a day, that is 400 cups a year. Most of us drink more coffee than that, so our impact may be even greater.

If 500 people in my building did this, we would save 200,000 cups a year. And that’s only two cups per day.

You can bring a drinking glass to work.

Besides coffee, most of us have several glasses of water at work, or we grab a bottle of something out of the vending machine.

If 500 people switched to a re-usable glass, we could avoid recycling 200,000 cups and plastic bottles each year. Probably more than that.

Plastic utensils. Most of us use a plastic fork or spoon at least once a day at work. Some people use a plastic spoon each time they get a cup of coffee. Some people use a plastic straw or wooden stir stick.

Either way, all of these items end up in the trash after a few seconds of use.

If on average each person uses 4 plastic utensils per day, 200 days a year and 500 people switched to real silverware we could avoid recycling:

4x200x500 = 400,000 single use plastic utensils annually.

Here is the simple solution for work: bring your own drinking glass, coffee mug and eating utensils.

Individually these may seem like small changes, and they are. But they require no special effort and over time they will make a difference.

The next time you go to the grocery store look for a 400 pack of paper coffee cups, plastic cups and a box of 400 eating utensils. These are not small packages.

Things we can do at home

The vast majority of our waste is created at home. Think of all of the food packaging you throw away every day, and packaging of all kinds. How many single use items do you throw away everyday at home?

It’s difficult to reduce the amount of packaging we bring home. That’s how our food and other items are sold to us.

I for one do not want to bring home meat in a paper bag. Prices would go up if we had the butcher wrap our purchase in paper like they did in the old days. And the food probably would not stay fresh as long either.

The only way to avoid recycling here is to buy less or look for products that use less packaging.

A friend commented that his wife saves the plastic bags you get in the fruit and veggie section of the grocery store. She puts the food away and puts those plastic bags back into her re-usable shopping bags.

This got me thinking that we could avoid those bags all together by just putting the food into the shopping bags.

Some grocery stores provide hand held scanners. As you select your items you scan them and put them in your bag. This way you don’t have to unpack you fruit and veggies at check out.

Re-usable bags seem to be the easiest way to avoid recycling here. I recently listened to an NPR broadcast where the guest said you need to use those nylon shopping bags 20,000 times to make their carbon foot print equivalent to the foot print of those throw away bags.

But I’m talking about reducing your recycling burden. Carbon foot print is another article.

Composting If you have space in your yard, composting is easy and sanitary. You can find all kinds of information on how to compost on the internet, so I won’t go into that.

Some argue that it is better to use a commercial composting facility as they collect the methane produced by compost. If your town has a commercial composting facility or collects gas from the land fill, that’s great.

In Eastern Massachusetts, all of our trash goes to an incinerator.

Gardening Again, if you have space gardening can be fun and help you avoid recycling. If the food comes out of the ground in your back yard, there isn’t any packaging to recycle. You can use your compost to build up the soil in your garden, so you don’t have to worry about disposing of your compost.

You can even use some household items in the garden. Seedlings can be started in yogurt cups.

Glassware Most of us have more glasses and mugs than we can possibly use. If you are starting out and need these items go to a yard sale. You can pick up glasses for a five or ten cents.

We use some jelly jars for water glasses. They look fancy and then we don’t have to recycle them.

Take-out Containers Americans are eating out and ordering in more than ever. Most take-out containers end up in the trash. Most cannot be recycled or have no economic value to the recycling company.

So what to do? When we get sturdy plastic containers we use them to store left overs. They are food-grade containers so why not use them to store food?

We also use them to collect our composting materials. Compost can make your Tupperware containers groady over time. If a take out container gets groady, no big deal.

They may not last as long as Tupperware, but we get multiple uses out of them before we throw them away and we avoid buying more containers.

How do you Avoid Recycling?

So here are a few of my ideas on how to avoid recycling. This may seem tongue in cheek but it really is part of the solution.

Part of the solution is to reuse items. Even better is to refuse plastic bottles, bags and other packaging if you can.

Recycling has gone from a way for cities and towns to off-set the cost of MSW collection to an additional cost of MSW disposal.

Do you recycle? Are you good at not contaminating the recycle bin?

Do you have any ideas that you’d like to share?

Recycle well my Friends,

Andy

1 https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-11/documents/2014_smmfactsheet_508.pdf

2 https://www.everbluetraining.com/what-is-leed

How Fast is Fast?

How many miles per hour do they run? It’s crazy fast and they still haven’t broken the two hour mark.

How Fast is Fast for the Marathon World Record

Last weekend I was hanging out with my friend Andy Brown before the Feaster 5 race. We were of course talking about running. He casually mentioned that “those 2 hour plus a few minutes marathoners are running 13 miles per hour”.  I had never thought about it that way. He was right and it was really shocking to think about.

2:03 or even 2:10 is crazy fast. But when you put it in terms of miles per hour it sounds really crazy fast!

Eliud Kipchoge holds the world record of 2:01:39 finish at the 2018 Berlin marathon. 2:01:39 is mind blowing but thinking about his average pace of 4:38.4 is totally mind blowing. How many of us can run a single 8:00 mile? How few of us can run a 7:00 or 6:00 mile? Even one of them?

Anyone running under a 2:10 marathon is running sub 5:00 minute miles! Think about that for a minute. 26.1 miles divided by 130 minutes is approximately 4.98 minutes per miles.

Any runner will tell you that it’s nearly impossible to run exactly even splits. At Wold-Class level running there are also strategies that runners employ to outwit their competitors. These strategies include holding back sometimes and pushing at other times. 

This means that there are moments and perhaps entire miles that are run well below the average of 4:98 to achieve a 2:10 marathon finish.

2:10 sounds like the speed of light to most of us: utterly un-achievable. For anyone to approach that finish time requires immense talent, effort and dedication. Many world class runners pursue this pace just to remain contenders. 

Marathon World Records

In 1897 John McDermott won The Boston Marathon and set a World Record with a finish of 2:55:10. John didn’t run in the high tech gear that we do and there certainly wasn’t any Gatorade or electrolyte beverage along the way for him. 

Most of us will never break the three-hour barrier even with all of the modern gear and nutrition available to us. Besides hard work, it takes a lot of talent to run like that.

These days a 2:55 marathon time wouldn’t even get you into the Elite category. For the past 40+ years the Boston Marathon has been won in less than 2:20 and is trending towards 2:10. The current course record of 2:03.02 was set in 2011 by Geoffrey Mutai. That’s approximately 4.42 minutes miles.

Because of Boston’s unique course it is not counted as a world record setting course. There is too much elevation loss and it is a point to point race which I guess makes a big difference? I guess the world record folks never heard of Heart Break Hill.

Anyway, it’s my hometown race so it’s personal for me. I’ve run the race eight times and there isn’t much easy about it!

The current World Marathon Record is held by Eliud Kipchoge at the 2018 Berlin Marathon. His finish time was 2:01:39 for a pace of 4:38.4 minute miles.

To set a 2:00 world record a runner would need to run just over 13 miles per hour or a pace a 4 minutes and 34.6 seconds per mile. 

Eliud Kipchoge completed the Nike’s Breaking2 marathon in May 2017 with a finish time of 2:00:25. This finish time doesn’t count as a world record as it was run on a Formula One track and used other un-sanctioned, though legal, practices.  He needed 26 seconds or 1 second per mile to break the two-hour mark!

So a runner may cross the two-hour mark at a marathon under ideal conditions, but can it be done in “The wild” on a course such as Berlin, New York or even Boston?

There are so many variables in marathons run in “The wild” such as the course it self and weather. In 2018 The Boston Marathon had torrential rain, wind and was very cold. Yuki Kawauchi of Japan won that race with a time of 2:15:58. The race hadn’t been won with a time like that since 1973 when Jon Anderson of Oregon won with a time of 2:16:03.

Can the Two hour Mark be Broken?

Since 1988 the men’s world record has been whittled down from 2:06:50 by Belayneh Densamo in Rotterdam to 2:01:39 by Eliud Kipchoge in Berlin. Berlin is a fast, sanctioned course so the two-hour record may be broken there. 

Eliud would need to knock 3.8 seconds off of each mile to whittle his 2018 Berlin finish down to two hours. That would be a huge achievement. 

In 1954 the the 4 minute mile was broken by Roger Bannister at Oxford University. A 4 minute mile equates to running 15 mph! Only about 1,400 athletes have been able to meet or beat this pace since 1954. And in the 60+ years since then only 17 seconds have been whittled from Roger’s finish time. 

Elite marathon runners run under the 5:00 pace just to be in the top 10 finishers at most marathons. A 5:00 pace is 12 miles per hour. A 4:00 minute pace at a marathon would give a 1:45 finish! I don’t expect to see that in my lifetime or anyone else’s. I just don’t think the human body is capable of that pace for 26.1 miles. 

The pace to hit 2:00 even is 4:34.61. That is only 4 seconds per mile off of Eliud Kipchoge’s 2018 Berlin finish. But is the 2:00 marathon approaching the speed of light?

I’m not a physicist, but the idea is that as you approach the speed of light, the amount of energy to increase speed towards the speed of light increases exponentially. Just like it takes more gas to drive fast in your car.

Can a male marathon runner shave 4 seconds off of every mile for 26.1 miles? I’m pretty sure they will do it on a track under controlled conditions. 

On a World Classic course like Berlin or Tokyo I’m not sure that it can be done. Reaching the sub 2:05 finish is an amazing accomplishment for any human being. Four seconds may not sound like a lot of time, but as you approach the speed of light…

What do you think? It is possible for a male marathon runner to break the two-hour mark on the road?

Runner’s World Pace Calculator

Boston Marathon Winners

Run well my Friends!

Andy

Adidas – BAA announce new store

The BAA and Adidas announce a new retail store

Adidas, running shoesMay 2nd, 2015 Adidas and the Boston Marathon, announce the launch of the Boston Marathon® RunBase in partnership with Marathon Sports, Inc. The Adidas exclusive community experience will open mid-April just steps from the finish line. The initiative is the first of its kind in the U.S. and will be the center of running in Boston, located at the 26-mile mark of the legendary course on Boylston Street.

RunBase is more than a shop to buy running shoes. Check out the full announcement on the BAA web site for more cool details.

If you register with Adidas they will send you a discount code for 15% off through April 19th.

Through April 30th Adidas is offering free shipping on orders over $49.00. I think we all know it wont be hard to spend $49.

Run well my friends,

Andy

Lowell Sun Baystate article

Thousands of runners to compete in Ashworth Awards Baystate Marathon, Half Marathon on Sunday morning

Read more: http://www.lowellsun.com/sports/ci_26746032/ready-go-distance#ixzz3GQiNig7S

marathon,running,baystate

Baystate booked early

The web site shows that the marathon sold out on August 22nd and that the half sold out on September 27th. It’s nice to see that all 4,000 numbers were spoken and paid for. That is always a big relief for the race organizers who rely on registration fees to cover their expenses.

I didn’t realize the race hasn’t sold out in four years. I ran the race last year and while standing in line for the porta-potties, it seemed pretty sold out to me!

bostons run to rememberBaystate will have more porta-potties than last year, 70 in total. The Tsongas Arena also has bathrooms, though they are limited. An arena that size seems to have too few men’s rooms and too few stalls once you get in there.

It seems that more and more races are selling our before race day. Some sell out weeks or months before the gun goes off. I’ve already signed up for Boston’s Run to Remember. I got a sweet deal of $60.00! I paid $70 last year and I’m pretty sure I signed up early for that race also. In 2012 I was on vacation during sign up and missed out.

  • Have you missed out on a race that sold out quickly?
  • How do you feel about the increasing popularity of running?

Are you running Baystate? Are you getting excited yet!

Run well my friends,

Andy

Oscar Pistorius found innocent

Oscar Pistorius Did Not Intentionally Kill Girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, Judge Rules

A South African judge made her ruling this morning. Oscar could still be found guilty of other charges including culpable homicide and weapons charges.

oscar pistorius, reeva steenkamp
Reeva and Oscar

I had great respect for Oscar as an athlete. In every interview he was gracious and humble. After the shooting I was not sure what to think, and still am not sure how I feel.

He did kill Reeva, he was at the very least reckless. We will never know what was in his heart and mind that evening. We can only hope that the court was able to see enough of the truth to make a correct verdict.

ABC News has coverage with video clips.

  • What do you think?
  • Was justice served?
  • Is his career over?

Andy