Tips for Working from Home

I’ve been working from home 2 days a week for a few years so thought I’d share a few tips. These are little things that work for me – they may not be for everyone.

Get Showered and Dressed

It sounds obvious but don’t slouch around in your pyjamas. You need to make a work day different from the weekend and any little things you can do to create this clear separation will help your work-life balance and ensure you’re in the right mindset, both ways.

Set Start and End Times

Don’t try to be too flexible with your hours. Stick to a normal working day. Don’t slack off and think you can catch up later in your own time, and don’t do extra to overcompensate for being at home. You need clear times when work stops and home life starts. It’s very easy to get sucked in to “just finishing off this bit” and still be working hours later.

Find Multiple Locations to Work

If you’re working from home for several consecutive days it can help to vary where you work. I wouldn’t keep moving in one day but maybe start every third day in a new spot. For some people having a fixed work space within their home helps the separation so if this works for you, great.

Finding a Good Work Space

For me it’s important to be near a window. I actually work sitting in a bay window looking out onto my street. This naturally makes me look up from my screen from time to time as people pass by. My sleepy town isn’t interesting enough for this to become a distraction but I appreciate this may not work somewhere busier. I would avoid spaces with no natural light, like lofts or basements. They’re just not good for your state of mind.


Set a start and end time for lunch as you would in an office environment. If you don’t, you risk not finding time at all, not taking a break or the day becomes one continuous snack-fest, which is not going to end well over a sustained period of time.

Managing Costs

If you’re home alone, do you really want to be heating your whole house? Or, if you’re lucky enough to be somewhere warmer, using air-con? I try to stick to being in one room, close the door and use a portable heater. This saves a small fortune on my heating bill.

Think about the money you’re saving on travel and put it aside for something which improves your home working lifestyle – a comfy office chair, a desk fan, a fancy microphone, a coffee machine.

Balancing Non-work Activity

Working from home does bring some advantages. You can have goods delivered. You can have the washing machine or dishwasher going. My tip would be to not worry about the small things like answering the door, putting a load of washing on – things that take a trivial amount of time. You should avoid the tasks that take longer and can be left until after work – online shopping, folding washing, cooking.


You’re at work. You can ignore the door. You can ignore your phone. Don’t use social media, unless it’s work related.

Don’t Get Isolated

If you’re alone for a period of time it’s easy to start to feel isolated. When working from home you need to make extra effort to communicate with colleagues. Try to make the effort to actually talk to people rather than just using email or messaging services like Slack. You won’t run into colleagues in communal areas, like the office water cooler or kitchen, so, if a few of you are working remotely you may need to create your own virtual spaces where non work related chat can happen to stay connected on a human level.

What Works for You?

Everyone’s different so do what works for you and if you have any good tips of your own please share.

FPL Player Value, Expected Returns and Targets

FPL players range in cost starting from 4 up to 13 so how do you compare them fairly across such a broad spectrum? What sort of returns should you expect from each price bracket? I’ve tried to apply some (very rough) maths to it to find out who’s justifying their price tag.

Season Target

Firstly, we need to set a points target for the season to get our weekly target. I’m going to base mine on equalling my best ever season, 2016/2017, where I scored 2281 points, with a rank of 16,876. So, for this, I’m using a season target of 2280 points, which as you’ll see further down makes the maths easier.

Scope and Disclaimers

The next thing is to set the scope of this exercise and get in my disclaimers. I’m assuming 38 “normal” game weeks with no hits and no chips. I’m also ignoring rises in team value. Finally, I’m giving all figures rounded to 2 decimal places.

Team Value

So, breaking things down, we all start with a team value of 100. This means each of our 15 squad players averages out at a cost of 6.67 (100/15).

Only 11 of our 15 score each week so we need to focus on the team rather than the squad. I’ve assumed that our first 11 have a cumulative cost of 82. That’s assuming a typical value of 18 on bench, something like 4.0, 4.5, 4.5, 5.0.

Using that total playing cost of 82, each player now has an average value of 7.45 (82/11).

Weekly Target

Going back to my season target of 2280 points. Over 38 game weeks this (conveniently) breaks down to 60 points per week. So, I have a weekly target of 60 points.

Player Target

The next thing to work out is the average return required from each player each week. Given that our captain scores double this is the game week requirement divided by 12, 60/12 = 5. So, I want each player to score 5.

Expected Returns

If I’m expecting an average of 5 points from an average player cost of 7.45 that means I’m expecting each player to return 0.67 of his cost in points. Roughly two thirds. So, a player worth 12 should return 8 points, a player worth 9 should return 6, you get it.

Value Index

We can then take this expected return number and divide by 0.67 to give a value index based on 1, where 1 is the expected value, above 1 is better, below 1 is poorer.

We can estimate the value over the season so far by looking at the Points per Match and comparing that with the cost. If PPM divided by cost is less than 0.67 the player’s returning lower than expected, if higher it’s better. This index makes it easy to see how much better or worse as a percentage. 1.14 = 14% better, 0.92 = 8% worse.

Real Examples

Here are some examples using stats from mid game week 28, 2017/2018 season.


Player Cost PPM Value Index
Alonso 7.2 5.3 1.10
Davies 5.7 5.2 1.36
Valencia 6.9 5.1 1.10
Bellerin 6.0 3.7 0.92
Bruno 4.5 3.3 1.09


Player Cost PPM Value Index
Salah 10.5 8.4 1.19
De Bruyne 10.4 6.4 0.92
Hazard 10.7 6.0 0.84
Ramsey 7.0 5.8 1.24
Doucoure 5.5 4.2 1.14


Player Cost PPM Value Index
Kane 12.9 6.4 0.74
Firmino 9.3 5.5 0.88
Rooney 7.2 4.4 0.91
Murray 5.7 3.5 0.92
Wilson 6.0 4.3 1.07


From these few selected players in the examples, we can see that the best performing for their cost is Ben Davies of Spurs with 1.36; the worst is surprisingly Harry Kane with 0.74.


There are obviously other factors like minutes played but maybe we can use this value index to see which players perform consistently when selected. Maybe using point per match based on recent form rather than the season average would yield more accurate results?

Do IT Qualifications Hold Value?

I work in tech, software development. I’d say that of the developers I have worked with, some have clear IT backgrounds, e.g. Computer Science degrees, others are entirely self-taught. As far as I can tell, as long as they have enough experience, it doesn’t seem to make a lot of difference. Controversial?

Being self-taught myself, I’m not actually sure what is taught in school and universities but, from my limited experience of working in a college and from knowing what my kids learn, it feels like it’s always well being the curve, at least 2 or 3 years behind what’s being used in the industry. This is both in terms of tooling and approach.

My kids have recently been learning to do various tasks in Excel. They’ll spend a week on something that I feel could be picked up in a couple of hours. For me, you’d get a lot more out of Excel by investing time in learning mathematical functions. And learning to use the import/export functionality. But that side of things is never taught.

Lots of courses include modules on the history of computing, the Difference Engine. Whilst interesting, does it really help? In fact, I’m not sure that any time spent on how things used to be done is really very useful. Keep looking forwards, not backwards.

I’m not sure what employers look for now or will look for in the future but I feel there could be more value in other subjects like maths than IT. IT is too broad, too “Jack of all trades, master of none”, and without any depth lacks real value. It’s easy to teach yourself whatever you need to learn in IT – there are so many good quality resources. I’d be inclined to learn other things and then demonstrate your IT skills through your own projects – websites, apps, APIs, etc. This will not only let you develop your other skills but give you experience of being self-sufficient in tech. It will also prove you have the motivation and discipline to teach yourself, which I think is essential.

Just my view. Please feel free to argue the case for the quals…


Shared User Accounts

I live with my wife and two boys and as you’d expect we have lots of accounts for lots of different services. What’s odd is that the models for the accounts vary quite considerably.

For banking, gas, electricity and water my wife and I have joint accounts – we are jointly responsible and either of us can make changes. Where they offer online services, we each have our own login but are presented with exactly the same data. It’s quite a standard user setup from a system point of view.

A lot of online only services still work on a single one account one person basis. We use Amazon Prime. We’ve both had Amazon accounts for years but when it comes to upgrading to Prime we’re not both going to pay the premium. And if we want to read the same Kindle ebook we’re not going to buy it twice. So, we end up using the one account and Amazon, who are famous for their user behaviour tracking and algorithms, lose sight of one of their users and what’s really happening. That can’t be good for them either.

Both Microsoft and Netflix seem to have recognised the need for shared family accounts – it’s one subscription per household, not one per person. You set up each user with their own login and they can then save their own favourites, watch lists, game progress, etc. It also allows parental control over children. It’s secure too – limited to a single local network so you can’t go giving access to anyone outside of that.

I think more services need to recognise how things are really used and adapt their account models to fit. We need special accounts for couples, families, work teams, businesses, charities, etc.

Stepping Away from Facebook

I’ve made a conscious decision to spend less time on Facebook. I was going to start this post by saying “with regret” but actually that’s not it at all. I couldn’t really care less and I don’t think anyone else could either, which is kind of the whole point.

I’m not leaving it or deleting my account, just breaking the cycle of checking it twice a day or more and posting just to perpetuate others’ habits.

So, why the step back? For a while I’ve felt uneasy about the addictive nature of it. I reached a stage where even though I didn’t particularly like it any more I was still feeling scared of missing out. I thought I’d initially just not look at it for a week and see if I missed it. I didn’t. And I haven’t been back on since. For about a  month. Now I really sound like an addict. :)

I found that even though I have 150+ “friends”, there weren’t many active users. I was only interacting with the same handful regularly. I also think that there are probably a whole host of others who just go on, read, but never post or interact – just voyeurs. This not knowing who’s watching/listening makes me uneasy. I post on Twitter but that’s just public. I only write on there anything that I’m happy for anyone to read, and it’s generally very dull unless you’re really into web development when it’s just moderately dull. :)

Another issue for me was that it was making me dislike people who I do genuinely like in real life. People present a persona on social media and it can be quite different from the real person.

There’s a lot of bragging, attention seeking, fishing for compliments and campaigning, all of which I can live without.

Some people, who are great company in reality are just painfully boring on Facebook. There are a lot of what I’d call “single issue posters”. So, everything from that person is about a political party, a sports team, a band or their kids. Sorry, it’s not personal, but I just don’t share your interest.

It’s not all ridding myself of a terrible affliction. There is a down side too. There are a few people who post the occasional gem which makes me laugh a lot. And I do get to hear about some things that interest me.

I can’t help feeling that the people who really matter to me still matter without Facebook. Whereas I once saw Facebook as a convenient tool for keeping in touch and extending reality, it’s now become something else, a place for people to present themselves through very controlled filters. Everyone’s doing a PR job on themselves.

I’ll probably be back at some point but for now I just feel better staying well away from it all.