As an Automattician, I spend the vast majority of my time working from home. This has its advantages and disadvantages, like anything else, but I didn’t think of my physical activity (or lack thereof) in quite the right way until I saw this tweet from my colleague Beau:

For reasons that I plan to write about soon, I have been taking a long-overdue look at my habits throughout the day in an effort to improve them and their effects on my overall health. It’s no secret that it’s not a great thing for you to be sitting down all day long.

I know this because the best shape I’ve been in for the last 10 years or so was when I was working retail at Circuit City. Being on your feet for 10 hours at a stretch and walking a store floor will do that to you. Once I shifted to a desk job, I quickly ballooned to over 300 pounds until I hit a high of around 325 in the last couple of years.

(I have since dropped a good amount of weight but that will need to wait for that other post I was talking about.)

What I have been using for about the last year or so to keep myself from getting leg cramps is a little utility called AntiRSI. It sits in your dock (and with the newest version, can sit in your menu bar instead) and has a configurable set of controls for taking breaks.

The options are pretty straightforward:

I don’t use it for the micro breaks as I don’t have any issues with strain (yet) and they were interrupting my flow a bit. Instead, I use it to force myself to take an eight-minute break every 50 minutes (so about every hour). When the 50 minutes of work are up, this appears and won’t go away unless I dismiss it, which I try very hard not to do:

When that appears, I do exactly what it says. The important part is that I stand up when prompted for a work break and walk around a bit. I check on how the kids are doing in school, take a biobreak, refill my water, or any one of a number of things, but (a) don’t work and (2) stay standing and moving as much as possible. Sometimes I will set an eight minute timer on my iPhone and take a walk outside. I walk past the desk every so often to see if the break is up, and when it is I sit back down and get to it.

Now I read tonight that I might not be getting up enough. And it’s possible that using a standing desk (which I have considered) is getting up too much. This is of course only one source of information on this, and you can always find a study or paper that agrees with you, but:

Sit to do computer work. Sit using a height-adjustable, downward titling keyboard tray for the best work posture, then every 20 minutes stand for 2 minutes AND MOVE. The absolute time isn’t critical but about every 20-30 minutes take a posture break and move for a couple of minutes.  Simply standing is insufficient. Movement is important to get blood circulation through the muscles. Research shows that you don’t need to do vigorous exercise (e.g. jumping jacks) to get the benefits, just walking around is sufficient. So build in a pattern of creating greater movement variety in the workplace (e.g. walk to a printer, water fountain, stand for a meeting, take the stairs, walk around the floor, park a bit further away from the building each day).

You can read the original text here.

So maybe I will give 30 minute intervals with smaller breaks a shot and see how it goes for a while. I’m thinking 5 minutes’ break every 30 minutes or so.

Do you have a method that works for you? Something you do to stay active throughout the day? I would love to hear about it.

Today marks the first anniversary of my joining Automattic full-time. It’s been one year of working alongside those who Matt calls “the best people in the world.” (You can read my thoughts on that first day here.) It’s amazing to me that it’s been that long—it feels like just yesterday I was going through training and learning the basics of how to work behind-the-scenes on WordPress.com. I suppose time really does fly when you are having fun.

In the last year, I have travelled to the same location as and met my fellow Automatticians five times: once to San Francisco upon first starting, once to Austin for SXSW, a second time to SF for WordCamp San Francisco, once to Lisbon, Portugal to meet with my fellow Happiness Engineers, and once to Seaside, Florida for my first company-wide meetup. I’ve replied to support requests from WordPress.com users over 18,000 times. I’ve worked daily with a team of people dedicated to making the blogging experience of millions better—people I call colleagues and friends.

I love what I do, I love the way we work, and I love the people I get to share the experience with. It’s my belief that none of us could do this thing without the rest of us. I’m part of a team and a family and I hope to be working as part of that team for a long time to come. We work hard, we take what we do seriously, yet we also know how to have fun and enjoy the ride.

I may brag about it a bit too much, but I count myself as fortunate to have the opportunity to get paid for doing something I love to do.

To celebrate the occasion, Amanda made me this completely awesome cake, which I know was pictured above, but I love it so much I want to post the full picture again here:

I know it’s somewhat conceited, but I think this is one of the finest cakes my wife has yet made, and it made me feel pretty special. She’s been supportive of this venture of mine the whole way, from the first day I talked about applying, through my working two jobs while I learned the Automattic ropes, to today, and I couldn’t do what I do without her. Thanks, wife of mine!

Here’s to the next year.

An awesome write-up on how the brand-new, released-on-launch-day iPhone app came to be from Raanan:

Back in late February I met up with Raven Zachary and his team from Small Society as well as our own Matt Mullenweg, to figure out if we could get an iPad app for WordPress ready in less than 30 days.

The team at Automattic pulled it off, and iPad users will be rocking the official WordPress app starting tomorrow morning. Check out the full post, which includes one of WordPress.com’s fancy new slideshows, and this shot of the plan behind the app:

So cool.

What I don’t like about department-based marketing is the belief that the only people who can send the messages about what the products are, who the company is, and what they believe in are the people in the marketing department. That’s the way I see most companies today operating. In reality, it’s everybody, every single person. The customer service department has some of the most important marketing people, but they’re not traditionally in the marketing department. Their impact is marginalized, when actually they have a huge impact. I don’t mean to say we’re perfect at this, but everything we do considers the overall impression we make on our customers to be our marketing. We want all our employees to worry about that.

Jason Fried, “10 Questions on REthinking the WORKplace”

I’m part of this crew now. :)

Yesterday was my first day as a full-time employee of Automattic.

This is extremely exciting for me.

I have been creating and working with Web stuff ever since I first learned about it back in high school. In the mid-90’s, I bought a book, taught myself HTML, and not long after created my first ugly, colored-text-on-black, graphics-heavy, completely unusable Web site on AOL—using TeachText. (It didn’t last long.) Web coding and standards became an important hobby factor in my life all through college and beyond, and even helped pay the bills on occasion.

I started blogging in college, first rolling my own system in ASP (with the help of my roommate and best friend) and later using young services like LiveJournal and then graduating to hosting my own, hopping from software to software for a while. I remember what WordPress was like without themes and plugins. I first started using WordPress for my personal Web site “full-time” in 2003, and have been following its development and using it ever since. I’ve developed Web sites for other people using WordPress. I’ve helped lots of others set up their blogs and learn how to publish for themselves using WordPress.

In short, WordPress has been a big part of my life for years now.

In my last job, I created some learning materials for other employees and for customers, including documentation and a few tutorial videos. I’ve long advocated the use of the Internet—and specifically the WordPress platform—as a tool for building Web sites that serve a community of users and help them to get the most out of the tools and software they are using.

It was only natural upon hearing about the position of Reel Wrangler that submitted my name for consideration and hoped for the best. That was nearly eight months ago.

Days later, I was speaking on the phone with Michael Pick about the job and why I was interested in it. I remember that I had a hard time reserving my enthusiasm. A couple of months later, I began working in the evenings and on the weekends, helping to collect, organize, and publish videos from users and WordCamps around the world on WordPress.tv. That work has been great. I’ve met a lot of really interesting people, seen a lot of great WordCamp sessions as part of the review process, helped a bunch of WordPress users, and have come to know my coworkers at Automattic and learn what it’s like to work with the team. The “trial” of contract work was really fun and the company and I learned whether we were right for each other.

Thankfully, the answer was “yes,” and so on my 30th birthday, I signed an offer for full-time work. Automattic is a “distributed” company, which means that we all work from home and are located all around the world. I’ll be working as a Happiness Engineer; half of the time I will be focusing my efforts on customer care for WordPress.com and other services, and the other half of the time I will be continuing to update and improve WordPress.tv as a visual resource for WordPress.

It’s an interesting change to working from home and being disciplined enough to do that around my four children, but I’m looking forward to the experience and being part of something really, really cool. I have grown to believe in the power and importance of open source software, and to be working with a group of people who live with that kind of ethos is an awesome thing. My fellow Automatticians are a diverse, unique, fun, and supremely intelligent bunch of people and I am fortunate to be working with them.

So yes, it’s been an eventful couple of weeks, and I’m excited to be starting this adventure. I’m sure you’ll hear more.

As you read this, I have recently walked out of Concordia Publishing House for the last time as a full-time employee. Next week, I move on to another adventure.

I have not made this decision easily or lightly, but at the call of an absolutely extraordinary opportunity, I have decided that this is the best choice to make for me and for my family.

As I leave, I realize that CPH has occupied a unique place in my life. Only four years ago, I was searching for a job and worried that I would not be able to adequately support my family. After my plans for a career fell through, CPH became a safe harbor, bringing me on to an amazing project that engaged both my personal and professional pursuits.

For this, I offer my sincere thanks and appreciation to my managers, who hired one very rough-edged guy just out of grad school and gave me an opportunity to teach and engage a customer base in a new way of doing things—then made me a part of bringing a traditional publishing company into the future. I appreciate your support and guidance over the last four years.

Concordia has also provided room for me to grow, mature, and find and create new friendships with a team of colleagues both dedicated in spirit and extraordinary in talent. There are too many to mention here by name, but I want to especially thank my dear friends Bob and Peter for honest words, long lunches, and (when needed) mutual consolation as well as celebration.

To those whom I have served in various ways throughout the last four years, I thank you for the opportunity and hope that you will continue to be loyal and satisfied customers of Concordia Publishing House.

Leaving a vocation is never easy, nor is it comfortable. Today, I carry a measure of sadness at my departure mixed with a wonder and anticipation for the change in my life that is to come.

It’s going to be one strange drive home.