Building a home office

I have decided to finally build out a true home office, where I can work and perform important tasks separate from anyone else in the house. I have a room upstairs that seems perfect for the role. It is separate from the rest of the living area, which means it will be quiet, and it is a decent size room so I have plenty of space to utilize.

For a MVP (Minimum Viable Product), I need to do the following:

  • Remove ugly wallpaper from the walls.
  • Prime and paint walls.
  • Hire electrician to fix two electrical outlets in room, as they both currently have an open ground.
  • Replace ugly ceiling light.
  • Move my sitting desk into the room and use a box or something to make a temporary standing desk.
  • Add a nice rug in my desk area.

For the next iteration after, I mulling over:

  • Add book shelves.
  • Refinishing the floors (might be done in MVP while the room is empty).
  • Adding more electrical outlets (might be done in MVP if more convenient and cost reasonable with electrician).
  • Run CAT 6 cable into room for better network connectivity.
  • Building an actual standing desk.
  • Add a nice couch or seat for reading, playing video games, etc.
  • Add speaker system.

I’m sure I will think of a few more additions and there is a possibility I will move a few items from the next phase into the MVP phase if they are more convenient to do then. That said, I am really trying to keep the MVP phase as small as possible, as I want to use this room by the beginning of November.

No pressure.

Two weeks with the Apple Watch

Two weeks ago, I purchased my Apple Watch. I chose the Sport model in Space Gray, 42mm. Why the Apple Watch vs. a regular watch vs. wearing no watch? What are my opinions of the Apple Watch? Would I recommend it?

My past experiences with watches

I have worn watches off/on over the years, although I have not worn one since I bought my first iPhone, the iPhone 3G, in 2008. Generally I have had these problems with traditional watches:

  • It’s awesome not having to change the battery for long periods of time, until you realize the battery has died at the most inopportune time. I never have a battery on hand either, which meant finding a store locally that had one or waiting for Amazon to ship one to me. Additionally, some watches are quite difficult to open without the proper tools.
  • I loathe having to update the watch when changing time zones, for DST, etc. In fact, I have a growing dislike for any device (alarm clock, stove, microwave, etc) that requires manual time updates.
  • Outside of telling time, it is not that useful to me. I would frequently forget to put it on. And in 2008, I just stopped putting it on.

The Apple Watch is really different

Others have complained about a watch that requires a daily charge, but this doesn’t bother me on bit. No more worrying about the watch dying when I needed it most (when I’m awake), assuming it had more than enough power to get through the day and that I plugged it in every night. Plus never worrying about having to change the battery.

I like the looks of the Apple Watch and it seems it would fit for every occasion, from exercising to formal events. It tells time accurately and stays up-to-date no matter what time zone I’m in. I can add complications for different bits of info I’m interested in.

The intriguing possibility of not having to pull out the iPhone, iPad, or MacBook for certain bits of information such as the time and notifications really caught my eye. Similar to the classic saying of using a scalpel vs. a blunt instrument, little efficiencies add up over time.

How has the past two weeks been?

The remarkable part of the past few weeks is how effortlessly the Apple Watch has been integrated into my life. It truly does seem to make certain tasks a bit more efficient and it has already changed several behaviors of mine.


I have been very bad about exercising the past few years, as life working for a startup has occupied a lot of my time and energy. But the gentle taps of the Watch informing me about my activity progress and the subtle indicator of my current activity goals for the day is addicting and has gotten me moving far more than I used to.

Tracking my fitness activity on the Apple Watch
Tracking my fitness activity on the Apple Watch

Now every morning I take a 15 minute walk outside before work that equals ~ 1 mile, something I never used to do. I find myself trying to stretch out my activity a bit longer to meet some milestone, such as 100 calories burned or 20 vs. 15 minutes exercising. I often go for walks every day after work as well, sometimes 3-4 miles, a lot more frequently than I used to. Not to mention that I use a standing desk at my work, which helps the stats as well.

I’m consistently above my goals most days, which likely means I should increase those goals soon. I’m contemplating how I can add a morning run to my routine and competing in more 5K’s. Additionally, I would like to get some strength training too.

Daily Calendar

As a Product Manager, my work life is ruled for better or worse by my calendar. So being able to view my next event at a flick of a wrist has been very handy. During work hours, I switch my watch face to a more text-based version that not just shows the next meeting on my calendar, but what room that meeting is in. This has become very handy at the end of a meeting, where I can quickly check where I am supposed to be off to next without making a scene.

With the modular watch face, I can easily glance at what's next on my day.
With the modular watch face, I can easily glance at what’s next on my day.

But on weekends and evenings my schedule isn’t quite as busy. As a result, I will often switch to a watch face that is much more minimal and traditional, with fewer complications turned on. For example, I typically remove the calendar complication and use the utility watch face. This intentional simplification and slightly fuzzier sense of time aids me a little bit with trying to relax and unwind.

Showing my version of the Apple Watch's utility face, which I use on weekends and evenings.
Showing my version of the Apple Watch’s utility face, which I use on weekends and evenings.

Smart(er) with notifications

Everyone reviewing the Apple Watch is right: notifications on your wrist are very handy, but be smart about which notifications you allow. Receiving notification taps too often becomes annoying and not a great use of your time. So immediately I began turning off notifications for various apps.

I’m not quite in a happy place with this yet, but I’m getting close. With these tweaked notifications, I seem more aware of when I feel a notification on my wrist. I can also sense the different tap/vibration styles a bit better as there are fewer of them. And it looks/feels more natural for me to check the time in social settings when I’m sneaking a look at a notification.

Saving time by more efficiently checking notifications (combined with fewer of them) is a nice win.


So far third-party apps haven’t been that exciting for me, with a few exceptions. I do use:

  • Dark Sky for weather notifications. This is probably my favorite Watch app so far. Every morning at 7am I am notified about the day’s conditions and I receive any alerts if precipitation is about to start/end.
  • 1Password is invaluable already, as I can put various codes (such as my garage door code) in an easy to find place.
  • MLB At-Bat for its glances. I can easily check the score of the Red Sox game.
  • I use Siri a lot for recording reminders that come to mind, which are added automatically by OmniFocus into its Inbox. Lots of quick reminders being created now that I would otherwise forget.
  • I put all of my 2FA codes on the Watch as well.
  • It was pretty neat to receive eBay notifications from their app when an item I was auctioning received a bid.

I’m really curious about what watchOS 2.0’s native app capabilities do to help increase my use of 3rd-party apps here.

Update on 31-day journal challenge

In May I began the 31-day journal challenge, to see if I could write in my journal every day and start a new habit.

The update on this is I failed miserably on my original goal. Around early June, lots of work travel combined with some personal events just derailed me for a couple of weeks. Only in the past couple of days have I picked it back up.

Currently I just completed Day 20…so another 11 days of writing will get me to “completion”, although not in the original time frame I had planned.