This is not going to be a rant about work/life balance. I don’t and never have had work/life balance and probably never will so I can’t talk intelligently about it.
I can however talk about unhealthy work habits, that is the things that we do at work, and the way we configure our work environments to make us less productive. I am one of the lucky few that has the opportunity to work from home, an office and the road without it impacting too much what I can and can’t do – but this means that I have three possible environments to configure. I am at home right now so I’ll talk about that in this post.
Configuring the Home Office
Working from home is a privilege and while I believe that most people will work this way in the future it certainly takes a lot of discipline. The first step is to set aside a space where you can work which includes a desk and a chair. It doesn’t need to be a large space, in fact my office is in our spare bedroom which also contains a bunch of cardboard boxes that haven’t been unpacked, but I have established a perimeter of control which I try to keep relatively free of clutter.
Looking at my desk right now there is:
- Cactus plant (needs water).
- Box for tax invoices/receipts.
- Bella’s piggy banks – not sure why they are here.
- Water bottle (cactus now has water).
- Car keys, swipe cards.
- Mobile phone, home phone.
- Laptop and associated cables.
- External hard drive and associated cables.
- Lego brick.
- Four books.
- Tablet PC and associated cables.
- Power strip.
- Organisation trays (in/out).
- Lightbulb and two 9-volt batteries.
- Asthma puffer spacer.
- Coffee Cup #1
- Coffee Cup #2
- Asthma puffer.
- USB memory stick.
- Biro (pen).
Out of all the things above, I’ve highlighted in red the things that I could probably stand to lose off my desk (doing it now, much better). That is pretty much the physical environment taken care of and in reality as a mobile professional you should be able to pack most of what is left up into your laptop bag.
The next thing that needs to be done is clearing house on your Inbox. Don’t spend all day reading e-mail – close it down, this goes for your personal accounts (Gmail, Hotmail etc). When you do read e-mail aim to get your Inbox to zero and keep it there, sometimes you might need to file some things into seperate folders to action later but don’t forget about them.
My Inbox currently has two e-mails in there that I am absolutely going to delete without reading. One is a check-in notification from TFS and the other is probably some inane conversation on a mailing list. I’m busy – delete delete. Zero messages in the Inbox. Next I am going to open up the To-Do Bar in Outlook and check to see if I can close any of the tasks.
Nope. Closing down e-mail and getting to work.