Tag Archives: gear

A Simple Fix to the Do Not Disturb Problem

I work from home full time.  I have an office with a door that is located right off the main living area of the house.  While this is terribly convenient to the core of the house, it can mean that there is often a lot going on around me.  There are 3 other humans, and 3 dogs living in this house with me.  In the summer, they are all here most of the time.  As I’m sure you can imagine, my door has to be closed a lot.

Whether the door is closed or open, my family struggles with knowing whether or not I’m in the middle of something or on the phone.  I use SKYPE primarily, and often on speaker, so there are no tell-tale signals.  Because it is a home office setup, I don’t have a slick red light that lights up every time I am on the phone either.

I’ve always been very flexible with my family about interruptions during the workday.  I’m not one these people who close the door and tell the family to ignore me all day, or pretend I’m not here.  That policy can negate one of the biggest advantages of working at home:  you’re there when all of the important things happen.

I needed a way to signal to them what’s going on behind these doors, and how they should or should not interact with me at this time.  I searched all over the internet to find something.  I looked for a traffic light that I could change between red, yellow, and green.  (I didn’t find one, but admittedly I wasn’t looking real hard because I’m sure my wife doesn’t want one in the family room).

I even tried to make my own signs.  Let’s just say it didn’t go well.  Finally, after a lot of searching and much frustration,  I found a really simple solution and it was very cost effective too:  less than $5. You can buy it here on Amazon:   https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00USOBIQI/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I bought this 2-pack of door knob hang tags (like you see at hotels) that are printed with various messages:

Come In (Green), Busy (Blue), Do Not Disturb (Red/Orange), Gone for the Day (Orange), Away (Yellow).  They are printed on both sides, so you can just flip them over to change the message.

Screenshot 2015-08-20 10.54.35

I use the Come In, I’m Busy, and Do Not Disturb the most.  Here is how I use them:

Come In:  I’m working, but not on the phone or really tied up.  It’s OK to pop in to chat or ask a question, etc.

I’m Busy:  I’m on a call or working on something pretty important.  Please knock before entering, don’t just come in and start talking.

Do Not Disturb:  I’m leading a call or really, really, really head’s down on something important or requiring my full, uninterrupted concentration.  Unless someone is hurt or the house is burning down, DO NOT DISTURB!

I’ve also begun to use the Gone for the Day to indicate that I’m done with work!  This process works on an open door as well as a closed door.

I simply explained this to everyone, and it has worked out great.  Their only request was that I make sure to swap them out as needed during the day.  So far, I’ve done a good job keeping the system updated.

What ideas have you found successful?


Music in the Home Office: Why I prefer Sonos

Note:  this is not a paid or sponsored post.  The content here is my own


One of the advantages to working from home is that you don’t have to listen to music on headphones.  Sure, there are times when that is necessary, but mostly I can play the tunes on my Sonos speakers.  When it comes to music in the home office, there are many options out there.  I’ve tried many of them, and I can say without a doubt I much prefer Sonos.

First, let’s look at some of the options available:

  • PC Speakers: This is certainly the easiest and most cost effective option for many.  Of course, today, many of us have our music libraries on phones and tablets, so you’d have to put the music on the computer to use the speakers.  Plus, the sound quality generally isn’t great without making an investment.  If you’re going to make that kind of investment, seems like you’d just go for something that would utilize your phone/tablet music library.
  • Bluetooth Speaker:  These are enormously popular today, and quite convenient.  Most will have batteries so they are a completely wireless solution.  This is a great option if you’re moving about from room to room, or working from the patio. Prices can vary widely with sound quality and size, and if you’re willing to spend a hundred or more, the sound can be very good.  One drawback that I have found is that you have to have the device that has the music library pretty close (Bluetooth range) to the speaker.  And, most devices will only support a single Bluetooth connection at any time.  So, if you’re like me with your cell phone functioning as your office phone and your music library, this presents challenges. You will have to choose between the headset for calls and the speaker.  If you have a tablet with your music, this issue can be eliminated.

As the title of the post indicates, I prefer Sonos.  Sonos is a sound system that runs through your WiFi.  The speakers are available in 3 packages:  Play1, Play3, and Play5.  The higher the number, the more speakers and better sound packaged in the speaker box.  I have both a Play1 and a Play3.  I started with a Play3 for myself in the home office.  I bought my wife a Play1 for Christmas this year for the Kitchen.  We both love it!  Here is why Sonos is the better option:

  • WiFi connection frees up my Bluetooth connection for my headset.  This is required for me because I am on the phone a lot.
  • WiFi connection provides superior range.  As long as my device is on the same WiFi network as the speaker, it can be anywhere.   So as I wonder about the house with the phone in my pocket, the music keeps playing.
  • You can group the speakers together for a multi-room sound experience.  I do this more often than I thought.  I group both speakers together and the music plays in the office and the kitchen simultaneously.  My wife and I host a marriage seminar in our home that requires background music in multiple locations.  The grouping works really well for this too.
  • The Sonos Controller app is a single source for controlling what plays on the speaker.  It includes Pandora and TuneIn radio services in addition to playing the music in your library.  No more switching between iTunes, Pandora and others.  It also does a better job of random play too.
  • The sound quality is fantastic.  The Play3 can be played very loud with no discernible loss of fidelity.  I was actually very impressed with the sound quality of the Play1 as well.

So, is Sonos perfect?  Of course not.  Each speaker has to be plugged in.  Older models required a bridge device to be connected with your WiFi.  (Newer models do not).  If you’re looking for sounds outside the range of WiFi and without power, Sonos is not your solution.   If you’re moving them around a lot, they are heavier than many Bluetooth speakers.  It is not as portable as many Bluetooth speakers, although I do take them to other rooms in the house and out on the deck.

My family likes the Sonos system so much that my teenagers want Play1’s for their rooms now.  And I thought I wasn’t cool anymore!

What do you use for music in your home office?