Big Lessons for Working from Home – Guest Post on Building Moxie


You’ve finally wrangled a few days of work-at-home from the boss. Or you’re now the boss and the grunt too. Like 47% of the population who want to work from home, you’ve found your freedom and now you’re faced with your first workday at home.

The freedom is terrifying.

To get you past that first Monday morning scream, you might want a few tips. Because at this point I’ve done it all. I’ve drudged through waiting tables, selling soap, sewing uniforms, and cubicle work; and I’ve owned the office. Now I gleefully occupy a corner of my house, having conquered the fears of the liberty-challenged.

  1. Setting the Pace. You are the boss and the employee. We all know at the office, one or the other can be stupid but never both. Figure out when you hit your stride during the day and dedicate those hours to employee jobs, the real productivity, the “big rock” projects. The rest of the time, you can be the boss.
  2. Home Alone. You are working alone. That is, unless you count the dog, fish, or couch. To kick my collaboration addictions, I create journal conversations, draw diagrams, take long runs and walks, post trial ideas on my blog, check the twitter clan, and have built a network of worthy reviewers and co-conspirators. You really are not alone. You just work alone far more than before.
  3. Imaginary Time. You no longer participate in daily rituals like rush hour, water cooler chats, lunches with the gang, commutes, or even normal dress-up routines. All told, that’s easily four hours of saved time per day, right? That’s like going to Macy’s sale of 30% off, spending $100, and expecting $30 cash. Not in your wallet, is it? Same deal: that four hours a day is gone, poof! You will never know where it went. There is no savings; there’s only convenience.
  4. Power Door. You are going to need a door. Or a crystal clear sign. I have an upstairs room with no external connections where I seriously work. Then I have a downstairs desk where I do everything else and quasi-connect to family life. So I see both situations. The door solves everything. If you don’t have your separate space, make a truly obnoxious sign that says: “Do Not Interrupt the Interrupter in Chief.”
  5. Double Used Home. You’ll be buying more groceries, toilet paper, and electricity. Call these purchases work-at-home expenses. It also means that your house gets a little dirtier with more dishes to wash. Unless of course, you never notice dust bunnies anyway. Then it’s just normal. Will a future buyer ask: has this house been driven hard or been a ‘Sunday drive’ kind of house? Mine’s 24/7 now, so is my neighborhood; it’s like meeting a whole new place.
  6. Real Clothes Wednesday. More laundry, less dry cleaning. More tennies, fewer hard heels. More pony tails, fewer blow dries. As I sit here in my running shorts and hoodie, I remember when I thought I would always wear suits to work, even at home. *laugh* Trips are bundled to minimize days in full regalia. Hey, I’ll be in real clothes on Wednesday; lunch then?
  7. No is Beautiful. I guard my time like I never did when I was working in a team. Saying no to a project was tantamount to putting people out hungry. We aimed for yes. Yes to that new police station, school renovation, downtown planning project, the neighborhood group, design juries, and various boards or committees. Now I monitor promises because I’m it. You’ll learn yes-with-limits and, sometimes painfully, no.
  8. Structure or Not. We skipped the apprenticeship program for at-home work, didn’t we? You are making it up. What time to start, stop, and take breaks? When is something ready to go? In project teams and schedules, the rhythm set the office mood. Now the rhythm is my rhythm. At the same time, the family has a different drum beat. Two tips: put your major due dates and meetings on the family calendar. And don’t start the laundry on a work day. It will wait.
  9. Not-Spent Money. Live-work at home is cheaper. Lunch at home, slouch clothes, minimal dry cleaning, less gas, parking, wear-and-tear on the car (or dump the car) will soon offset the added desk, computer, power, and groceries. Shall you splurge? The first check: scan it, frame the copy, and then go back to work. The first $100,000: nice dinner, then back to work. And start figuring out when you should sell the business – 2 years, 10 years, longer? Make a plan; build your assets. Even if you keep it longer, do it by choice. Invest in freedom.

Every day that you get up and work in your hoodie and tennis shoes is a good one. When you pick up your kids from school or stop for an hour to shoot a game of hoops or take a run, be happy.

Working from home just shrank your ecological footprint dramatically. No office waiting for you all night, no house sitting empty all day. It’s full occupancy.

Work in a team telecommuting from home or work alone gives life new balance and, if you love your work, new meaning. You are the boss. And you are the grunt. Relish it.


Hilarious Cities: Do You Live In One? #letsblogoff

This week’s lets blog off  creators want to know:  What Makes You Laugh?  A troop of brilliant blogging buddies aim to make you giggle today. You can link to all of our posts here. and I posted the most recent list at the end of this post – a laugh-fest! 

Do you see funny things around your city? How often do you smile or even laugh out loud in your daily travels? A chuckle here, a smile there means you get it: yeah, that’s funny!! 

Does your city make you laugh? 


This little cherub on the Country Club Plaza always makes me chuckle. Bet he’s made more people laugh than most comedians!


And the parking structure for the downtown Kansas City Public Library is a row of … gigantic books! Surely the architects wanted to make us laugh?


A lot of public art cracks me up. This fellow eating a shoe with eyes and ears covered stands blatantly in front of the (believe it or not!) the KC Communication Center.


The Shuttlecocks make the venerable Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art their badminton net. Fantastic art/architecture joke.

Let’s face it, cities are hilarious! And not in just one way; we have a whole toolbox of humor.

Funny words and pictures

A rare few city forefathers invented some rib-cracking names – down the road from me is Peculiar, Missouri, and a little further is Versailles, named for its proud French ancestor. Now that’s not so funny, except we call it “Ver-say-alls.” (Apologies to France!) What if you were from Accident, Tightwad, or Middelfart?


Some sign

-makers have a terrific sense of humor.




And some graffiti is silly funny….



Architecture humor

If architecture is the mother art… who is the dad?? Heh.

If at first you don’t leap over tall buildings in a single bound… build shorter buildings.

Ok, did I mention I can’t tell a joke? Ill just stick to images!

I love those hotdog stands shaped like a hotdog. Guess what the owners of this building, the Longaberger Company, sell?



This serious building, the Ontario College of Art and Design, looks a bit like a game board.



Road fun

Maybe the most fun is on the road. You can watch for riotous vehicles like low riders, Model Ts, and trucks with longhorns or funny bumper stickers. I found a hummer converted to a horse drawn carriage – that’s imaginative!! Or there’s accidental humor…


And finally, the best laugh goes to lunatic driving. The rowdiest 10 secs of driving you’ll ever see.

Cities – Why be funny?

Now that you think about it, arent cities funny? No doubt, cities are very serious places. But sometimes, you just got to have some fun.

Humor makes cities more human, more relatable, and sparks everyday life. Kids in a park, dogs chasing birds, monkeys in the zoo, a cherub statue peeing, or a big book building make me laugh. Pink flamingos make me cringe-laugh, thanks to an oldJohn Waters film. Still some folks find them joyful. Laughter shakes off our troubles, lightens the load.

Who wants cities full of dark and gloom? That says someone didnt care enough to make us laugh, to charm us, to brighten life. A city with humor opens communication and creates moments for sharing something good – laughter.

Come on Cities, show us some heart. Dare to make us smile or even laugh out loud. Thats the gift of common ground, a shared moment among strangers. We can’t be angry when we’re laughing. We can’t hurt anyone, or rob a store.

Ok, we might have a bike or car accident if we laugh too hard. Watch out!!

Can a city add a laugh track?

You bet.

  • What cities, fountains, places, buildings make you laugh?

Enjoy many more witty blog posts, and some quite serious, from the extraordinary ”lets blog off” community.  

Blogger Twitter Blog Post Link
Veronika Miller @modenus Modenus Community
Paul Anater @paul_anater Kitchen and Residential Design
Rufus Dogg @dogwalkblog
Becky Shankle @ecomod Eco-Modernism
Bob Borson @bobborson Life of an Architect
Tamara Dalton @tammyjdalton Tamara Dalton Design Studios
Sean Lintow, Sr. @SLSconstruction
Amy Good @Splintergirl Thoughts of a Splinter Girl
Tim Bogan @TimBogan Windbag International
Steve Mouzon @stevemouzon Original Green
Madame Sunday @ModernSauce Modern Sauce
Saxon Henry @saxonhenry Roaming by Design
Jane Frederick @JaneFredArch Low Country Architect
Andrea Wolper @AndreaWolper Spin the Wheel
Denese Bottrell @Denese_Bottrell Thoughtful Content
Betsy De Maio @egrgirl Egrgirl’s Blog
Allison A. Bailes III @EnergyVanguard Energy Vanguard Blog
Ami @beckami Multifarious Miscellany
Christian McLean @chirn9980
Barry and jb @BMoxieBMore Building Moxie


Calf at Bike Rack; Ontario College of Art and Design, Toronto by Wil Alsop,Ontario College of Art and Design, Toronto by Wil Alsop,Hummer Coach,Longaberger Company Home Office, Newark Ohio,Bird Sign and Portapotty;Bristol graffiti ;gargoyles at Notre Dame Cathedral, Modern Communications” by Terry Allen, Nelson AtkinsShuttlecocks by Oldenburg and van Bruggen,Book Parking Garage at KC Central Library;town signs.

An Extraordinary Year of Blogging: an Architect’s View #letsblogoff

This week, Let’s Blog Off asks: “Are blogs as important as bloggers think they are?” I think my colleagues have answered the basic question. Paul Anatar gives statistics. Veronika Miller and Saxon Henry merge blogging, travel and design. Architects Steve Mouzon and Bob Borson talk about the importance of blogging; Steve to build sustainably, and Bob for insights as a residential architect. All agree: blogging is important, especially for designers.

So let me rephrase it: “Why blog?” More specifically, why should architects, designers, engineers, contractors, or anyone in the construction industry blog? and what I’ve learned from blogging.

Why Blog?

Seth Godin and Tom Peters, blogging and publishing giants, praise the life changing effects of blogging. Blogging makes us think. And, it’s FREE!

I have blogged for about a year. It’s my 50/50/50 milestone. Over 50 blogs in 50 weeks for over 50,000 people. I didn’t have a clue what to expect, and I humbly say, thanks to all that read and comment! The best moments are when you leave some pithy remark, exuberant cheers, tell me I’m full of crap, or extend the ideas.

One thing I assure you is: it’s not free. It takes time. It takes effort, commitment, ideas, organization, focus, and consistency. It’s a substantial investment, both personally and professionally. And it pays dividends. You sort through ideas, you take risks, engage with people. And you learn enormously.

Yet, blogging takes courage.

Not the kind of courage that makes you charge in battle, pull a child from a burning building, or climb Mount Everest. Yet still utterly risky.

Exposing your ideas shows you have gumption, plenty of it.

No one forces you blog, or even asks you to. You blog because you have an urge to contribute beyond your normal duties. You have more to say, something to share. You want to engage people and influence memes. Blogging builds ideas and stretches our thinking, our beliefs. It’s creative, experimental, at times uncomfortable and even a bit crazy.

But when you write a blog,  it’s your choice, your creation. The entire burden rests on your shoulders. That’s brave. and also thrilling.

Frankly I have at least as many posts in my “void” file as those posted. They’re incubating for future use. I learned from every one of them. These posts are not yet ready for you to invest your time in them. Attention is the new currency.

Why architects need to blog (and all design/build pros)


We simply don’t learn to write or even to communicate well in architecture school, and perhaps not in the field either. We practice designing, drawing and modeling. We learn by making things, not necessarily by speaking and writing, except for marketing and specs (yes, I said specs, thoroughly lacking in readability.)

Blogging cures that gap. When architects blog, we practice explaining our ideas, what we think about, and most importantly perhaps, what we believe. Rather than every few weeks to a client, we have to do it regularly, sitting at a computer, and then put it out there for you to respond: “Aha! Now I get it.” Or: “That’s crap, no way!”

Mostly design pros and contractors talk to each other. Isn’t that true? Think how much of your week is spent talking to people outside the industry about the industry? Blogging goes well beyond our everyday communications; we actually have to cut out the jargon, or at least explain it. (A client cursed me roundly for calling a drawing of the building exterior an elevation. whew, a stinger.)

Why do I blog?

I blog to rev up the idea chain, engage in conversations, and learn. Some of my blogging looks to the future, like “Twitter for Futurists,” my series on 21st century cities, and my current True Green series. Other posts focus on my opinion laced with some facts, such as last week’s outrage about the US pavilion at the World Expo in Shanghai. From my blog, it looks like opinion posts get more comments, while informative pieces get more views. Maybe when my voice is more front stage, so is yours? It’s one thought.


I wonder why we still ask about the value of blogging? Then I imagine, the Cistercian monks probably argued against the Gutenberg press for years too, maybe centuries! “Who will read all those Bibles?” doh! Eventually blogs will be accepted as a central part of the communication media chain, the part that gives each of us a megaphone.

Surely every blog post changes the world, some far more than others.

You can find more of my blogging colleagues responses to “Are blogs important?” here.

And for your amusement, Jon Stewart skewers blogging, or rather, eviscerates it.


The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
The Blogs Must Be Crazy
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook


If This Were A Logical World…


If this were a logical world, MEN would ride horses sidesaddle. heh.

(Needed a little humor after looking at that derelict school trapped behind chainlink fence. Have to mix it up sometimes!)