Working at The Hub, Bristol

A couple of weeks ago I had some friends coming to the UK for a little while, but they were staying in Bristol and I live in Leeds. My weekends were pretty full so I wasn’t sure if I would get to see them – but since I telecommute I can work from anywhere with a decent connection and some quiet space. A friend recommended The Hub in Bristol, so I worked from there for the day.

Its a great place, I haven’t been to Bristol before and the views are rather good since the space is on the top floor. There was plenty of desk space and both wired and wireless connections available and they also have meeting rooms which were getting some good use the day I was there. The atmosphere was friendly and everyone had a smile for me, even though I was a stranger and only there for the day. The office is part-shared by sustrans so there were other nice ethical touches, like fairtrade tea and coffee and a good selection of recycling options.

I had a great day and will be looking out for opportunities to use The Hub again – either in Bristol or elsewhere. Thanks!

A Bit About Burnout

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about burnout, I’ve had a couple of encounters with it in the last year myself and also a few people close to me have found themselves struggling internally after working too hard. I don’t really have any advice to give – the advice I offer to myself is to know my own limitations, know when I am close to them and need to tread carefully, and to stand up for myself against the sources of stress or overwork if the need arises.

However it happens, the question a burned-out person seems to ask is “how long will I feel this way?” and there is no quantifiable answer, and no guaranteed cure for that dragging fatigue. Most of the advice I’ve heard revolves around “get a hobby” – this time around I realised what I needed to hear was “give yourself permission to waste time”. The first one I don’t have a problem with, anyone who knows me knows I’m a live wire and always doing 6 things at once. The second one … that’s the killer.

Earlier in the year I did a lot of travel for a particular work project, at a time when my diary was already pretty full and I was preparing for a big conference. With one thing and another, by the time it was all over, I realised I needed to make some changes. Lots of elements of my life – friends, family, relationship and health – had all taken a beating while I was off dealing with all that I needed to do, and I realised there was a lot to do to get myself to where I wanted to be on all those other fronts. Last week I realised that although it took 10 weeks, now I feel like myself, finally picking up the strands of hobbies and having the energy to contribute to things that once interested me. Its not a big chunk of time to spend “healing” and I am glad now that I did step away, allow myself to vegetate and chill out with those close to me instead of being driven all the time to the next thing on the list.

Most of all – I hope other people come through the experience as unscathed as I have, and that I learned something for next time.

Preparing to Telecommute

On Monday I start my new job and I’ll be mostly working from home which will be nice, but quite a change. I have a lot of online friends that I have yet to meet in real life but to have a whole set of colleagues, some of them in another country (IBuildings is a Dutch company) is all new to me. It’ll be nice to avoid the annoyances of sharing an office, with other people’s music and cleaning up after others too. I know I am organised and self-motivated enough to manage the working patterns as well, which is one less thing to worry about. If I had needed to be in the office every day, I simply couldn’t have managed it as they are based in London. In preparation for next week, I thought I’d share some photos of my home office. To the left are my flower pictures that I found in a box when we moved, they came from another house we previously rented.

I also have some essential accessories for any office: A map of the world and a nabaztag. This one is called Tag and is our second one of these rabbits.

Finally, check out my lovely big office chair, modelled here by my Christmas bear, now named Busibear as he lives in the office and oversees business. The chair was a birthday present from my parents, thanks mum and dad :)

I have a nice new notebook and a futon for any visitors that pop in, I think I’m all set…

LornaJane Moo Cards

Whenever I attend a conference or other geeky gathering (GeekUp for example) I’m often asked for my card … but I don’t have one. I don’t have work business cards, because only sales people need those, and I don’t have personal ones because I don’t freelance (or not usually). I finally cracked though and ordered cards from as recommended by many many people. Here they are:

On the other side I put the angel motif made for me by Gretchen from, which I love and use as my online persona in a lot of places. She didn’t quite fit and I didn’t want to shrink her so instead she peeps out at you:

So if you see me around, and you’d like my card, try asking me again if I have one :)

New Job Announcement

Following on from my post about needing a new job, the observant among you may have noticed that I have yet to post the promised sequel about myself and my skills. That’s because I don’t need to – I have a job! I will soon start a job with IBuildings, an amazing and energetic set of people, and I’m wildly excited. They are based in London but I’ll be telecommuting most of the time.

Its been a funny few months, I’ve been very active in the PHP community, mostly because I’ve needed some professional support and they are a wonderful set of people. They have been graceful to accept my attempts to contribute to the community and have supported and encouraged me every step of the way. Through this I came to do a PHP|Abstract podcast, a talk at a BarCamp, quickly followed by being stalked and offered a job by a very good local-ish employer. I ended up passing on the opportunity because it was the kind of local that is too far and awkward to do in the rush hour for every day, however the experience was amazing and I met some great people in the process. I studied for and managed to pass my ZCE exam, and in the same week parted company with my employers of almost a year. In the last five days I have communicated with some superstars from my industry, looked over my shoulder to find the other lornajane that surely they are actually looking for, received two excellent job offers from two uber cool companies, and accepted one of those offers. I owe thanks to many, many people for the moral support, listening and general egging-on they supplied – guys, you know who you are.

After all that – I need a nice cup of tea and a sit down … :)

So Begins a New Chapter

I’d like to announce that today I parted company with my employers Coolpink to the satisfaction (and probably benefit) of both sides.

To answer the first three questions: Yes, I am fine. Yes, they are paying me my notice period so I won’t starve. And yes, I need a new job! I’ll put up a coherent post on me and my skills soon.