Working From Home: Paradise or Peril?

Working From Home

Working from home has its many ups and downs, but if done right it can be a highly fulfilling way to work. How!? How do I do it!?

‘The Routine’

Routines aren’t just for morning people. I once read that human beings have a certain amount of mental energy during a given day and no more. After that energy is exhausted, they feel drained and slog their way the finish line of their beds. Many highly successful people cite this as the reason they work under such stringent routines. Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs have/had a way of wearing the same thing every day. That’s one less decision to make. It’s what the New York Times called Decision Fatigue. I eat the same thing for breakfast every day, only opting to switch every six months or so. That’s one less decision for me. Find your routine to get started and stick to it.

‘The Diet’

When I work outside the home, I often eat out at restaurants because it’s easier in many ways. This, however, is not a healthy way to live your life. Working from home, I’m able to make healthy meals whenever the mood strikes me. This does wonders for the waistline and for the pocketbook. (Does anybody actually have a pocketbook anymore?)

‘The Loneliness’

Yes, working at home often means working alone. Yes, that sounds scary to those of us who are extroverts. Luckily, the internet is, apparently, a ‘thing.’ Skype, Slack, Trello, Asana, and countless other pieces of software (often made or owned by Google) make working from home a little less lonely. But what if you’re a creative type who works alone? No person is an island, as cliche as that is. Making relationships with other people that do the same thing as you is extremely important, if for no other reason than to squash that feeling of loneliness.

‘The Cabin Fever’

Go to the gym. Keep in contact with friends. Don’t fall into the trap of sitting around in your pj’s and watching daytime television while doing your work. You’ll accomplish more if you get dressed in the morning as though you’re going to work and prepping for the day. Keep fit. Keep social.

Working from home can be a blessing and a curse, but by stacking the deck you can make it highly fulfilling. Do you work from home? What do you do to keep sane and produce?

Science Sunday: Tesla to Create Batteries to Power Home

Science Sunday: Tesla to Create Batteries to Power Home

Tesla’s earnings may have disappointed, but what Elon Musk said in passing could change the way our power grid works.  Seriously, the implications of this are huge.  Musk said, “Some will be like the Model S pack: something flat, 5 inches off the wall, wall-mounted, with a beautiful cover, an integrated bi-directionl inverter, and plug and play.” Apparently a fully charged cell could power a typical home for a week.  A week!  Think about that.  If there was a power outage on the grid, almost all of them are fixed within a week.  But that’s not where things get interesting.

This isn’t just some off-the-cuff statement.  This is actually happening.  Musk said that about 30% of the Gigafactory being constructed near Reno, Nevada will be dedicated just to this function and they’re in talks with utility companies to discuss terms (on a side note, it’s possible the Gigafactory will be completed in 2016, rather than 2017).  Anyone familiar with Nikola Tesla‘s headbutting that occurred between him and the utility companies of his day will get a kick out of this.

So, what is Tesla Motors, an electric car company, doing in the utility business?  Musk also started SolarCity, a solar power company.  His cousin is the current CEO and Musk is the Chairman of the Board.  If you have SolarCity’s panels on your roof, they can power your home and store excess electricity in the Tesla battery, which you can use to power your home or charge your Tesla car.  It’s beginning to become one big circle.

Consumers should embrace this advance in technology because it not only makes sense, it will save them money.  Customers lease their roof space out to SolarCity, so there’s no cost to it.  Currently, you only pay a minimal amount to the utility company for power during night hours and some extra fees. Overall you still pay far less for your utilities. As long as you don’t mind the aesthetic of a solar panel on your roof (which I think looks like the future and is awesome), then there’s really no downside. Admittedly, this model works better in the Southwest and places that get more direct sunlight. In the future, we need to harness every bit of power we can as the population of the planet balloons.

I think we’ll get a lot smarter as a collective people and start implementing more ideas such as this. Something I’ve always been fascinated by since I first saw it mentioned is Vertical Farming. I’ve used this concept to some extent in my writing because it not only makes sense, but I think it will become a necessity as an estimated 80% of the world’s population will live in Urban areas by 2050. By that time I expect our abilities to increase crop yields and create these ingenious urban farming practices. Those buildings might just be powered by solar panels by SolarCity or a similar company and store power in batteries created at the Gigafactory.

I’ll leave you with this: if Tesla’s Gigafactory isn’t a flop (which I don’t think it will be), and SolarCity continues to expand, how will our power grids change and who stands to make out? Do you think this news is overstated or do you think it will truly change how we get power in this country and potentially the world? I’d love to hear your comments and thoughts!

UPDATE 5/1/2015: Tesla Energy has been announced. Tesla will create batteries to power homes and businesses at a starting cost of about $3000 for home use and more for the product known as the ‘power wall.’