Take 2 web apps into the shower?

Since announcing the launch of Cart45 last week, I’ve had quite a few people asking how I’ve managed to create an ecommerce app and another web app (Bean Counter) simultaneously. So here goes…


Whilst, Cart45 is still available for purchase, I am no longer involved in its development in any way. Thus, I cannot answer questions about it nor offer any kind of support.

I must admit, my working arrangement is downright bizarre – my employer Soapy Co Ltd allow me to work from home and pay me a salary but they also allow me to spend 20% of my time (the equivalent of 1 day a week) on my own projects. This allows for a couple of distinct advantages for me and them.

  1. Allows me to experiment with new ideas
  2. Allows me to freelance with other agencies and gain more experience
  3. Allows me to fit work around my life

The most important thing my employers care about is that my work gets done – and it does. So does it matter whether I sit still from 9am-5pm spreading out my tasks so they last a full working day or is it more important that I get done what needs to be done on time?

Experimenting with new ideas

Whilst writing Cart45, I was simultaneously writing Bean Counter, this allowed me to experiment with new ideas and techniques in Bean Counter that if successful could be transferred across to Cart45. As Bean Counter is all my own, I haven’t been constricted to any deadlines (except my own), which has enabled me to be less stressed about how quickly I developed it. This in turn, meant I could concentrate on ensuring the code looked good and worked well regardless of how long it took – whereas with Cart45 it is always a rush to make sure the product works as quickly as possible. That’s simply the nature of a commercial product whose sales will guarantee the success of its parent company.


This unique working environment allows me to freelance more and more than a 9-5 office job would. As I mentioned above, provided my work is done my employers don’t care what hours I work. If I wish to blitz an entire week’s worth of projects over the course of 2-3 days I can – often I choose not to because when I take into account the cost of the RedBull and ProPlus it works out unprofitable in most cases.

Blitzing the odd week does allow me to get some freelancing for other agencies done – it even enables me to work onsite when required. Getting out and about and seeing how other people operate is massively helpfully to my career development and any insights I can gain can be taken back to my employer to help improve their practices.

Fitting work around my life

Doctors appointment, hair cuts, trips to the butchers/fishmongers – all these errands used to be crammed into the weekend leaving me with no time whatsoever to relax, but because I now work from home I can do these things quickly during the day without losing much productivity and in fact, it helps me to take my mind off programming.

We bought our first house 20 months ago and we’ve been renovating it ever since. Working from home has definitely sped up the DIY a lot. If I’m stuck with a certain aspect of Cart45 development I can go off for 20 minutes and paint some walls or sand down a banister and that little break clears my mind and often helps me solve my programing problem.


Friends and co-workers often have these similar queries about my work situation:

Is it hard to motivate yourself when you work from home?

Actually, it’s surprisingly easy to motivate myself and I don’t think I’m atypical here, just ask my parents – they used to tear their hair out over my unmotivated approach to school and life. In my opinion, you have to be a lot more motivated to physically get up and get yourself out of the house on time every day regardless of the weather or how you’re feeling.

Do you spend all day working in your underwear?

Yes. Monday-Thursday it’s high class Agent Provocateur and Friday’s is casual big pants day. Seriously, though I try not to work in pajamas and dress as I would if I were at the office. This approach seems to make me concentrate a little more – although it may be (more than) a little psychosomatic.

Is it lonely?

Yes sometimes it is. I can go full days without talking to anyone except my girlfriend once she gets home from work. Freelancing on-site for other agencies can help to break up this monotony.

Do you lie in everyday?

No. As a teenager I could sleep-in until mid-afternoon but those days are now long gone. Nowadays, I find myself most productive in the morning and the later I sleep in, the later I want to go to bed at night and as my girlfriend starts work at 8am it make sense to try and keep our bod clocks in time.

What about you?

Do you work from home? What are your experiences like?

6 responses to “Take 2 web apps into the shower?”

  1. Another great post Phil, I am loving the look of cart45 and will defiently add to my list of e-commerce options in the future. I would love to be able to use BeanCounter for myself if possible?

  2. @Thomas: Thanks. I hope to be releasing Bean Counter soon – I have a secret deadline in my head that I’m not revealing publicly yet. It’s actually been delayed a bit because it needs some investment and I’m doing some freelance work to be able to afford that.

  3. I’m currently working in an office from 9-5, but I’m going to be changing jobs soon and I’ll have a situation very similar to yours Phil–I’m really looking forward to it!

    From past experience I know that I’ll need to set up a dedicated office space and I’ll occasionally need to grab the laptop and get out of the house. Do you have a dedicated office space at your house Phil?

  4. @Derek: I’ve got an office in the corner of a bedroom, so I guess that’s kind of dedicated – I’ve also got a laptop which I purchased recently although I must be honest I only take it to meetings and never coffee shops to work.

  5. I’ve been working in a similar situation (less the 20% personal project time, I keep trying to get it) for about three and a half years now. I’ve been very happy with it over all, though I do sometimes miss the interaction with the other people in the office, and they have a tendency to forget to tell me if they do something like close the office early for a holiday or some such. It does get very lonely at times. The company I currently work for was very hesitant to hire a remote employee like myself, but I managed to sell them on the idea in the interviews, and they have been quite happy with their decision, their only requirement has been that every couple of months I come down to the office for a few days, just to have some face time. (They reimburse me for gas, food and lodging so I don’t mind.) My biggest problem has always been the friends and relatives who want to call me in the middle of the workday, and can’t seem to get a grip on the idea that I am ‘at work’ even though I am at home.