Category Archives: Work

Time management

One of my colleagues at Mimecast mentioned today that he thought another colleague was able to be such an impressive thought leader because of the fact that he manages his time very well.

At fist glance that sounds like a very loose connection to me.

However, now that I have thought about it for a little, the brief explanation I was given has become a much more solid thought process within my head space and I thought it worth exploring.

The basic premise is: -

If you manage your time well, you will have more free time to ponder things

A simple enough concept, but would it hold up in my own work life?

I mean I know myself rather well, I am always busy doing something, not always what I should be doing, but always busy with work.

If I managed my own time better would I have more free time? Right now it feels like all I would have is a more structured work day and I would get more done, but that there is always more to do so if I managed myself better I would improve productivity but not actually get myself into this utopian state of “free thought time”.

So how do I get there?

I work hard during the day and at night I don’t want to be working more, I want to be spending as much time as I can with my family. These are not unusual desires.

Now I happen to know that the man who inspired this whole thought process in the first place is a family man first and foremost. He leaves his work at the door when he goes home and thinks only about his family from then on.

So it must be do-able within normal working hours.

I have therefore set myself a challenge.

I am going to be setting up a new time management structure for myself over the next two weeks (it will take me that long to clear off what I have now) and will begin creating free time.

I mean come on, I have quit smoking and no longer spend an hour a day standing outside talking shit and polluting my lungs, its GOT to be possible!

Do you think I can do it?

One day I will have all the time I want…

But not today :)

That’s not a stress for me.

I hear people saying all the time that they need more hours in the day, or that the week should contain more days. This is a very simple repercussion of working in modern society, where society demands that you allocate the better part of your life to the pursuit of a common goal.

Since I fell in love, got married and became a father, I have been given the opportunity to reassess my life’s activities and my stress levels have gone down accordingly.

Why?

Very simple…

I no longer want to kill myself working all hours, so I make sure that I do as much as I can during working hours and dedicate my time to my family outside of my allotted working hours.

Seems trivial for sure, but it does also require much more than simply shutting down shop at 6pm on the nose (or 5pm or whatever your official stop time is). It requires a tacit understanding from your colleagues that you will be unavailable after a specified time and that if anyone is responsible for late delivery on something it is not your responsibility to bail them out by sacrificing your life and time. Granted, there will always be exceptions and no rule is hard and fast, but once you have decided to truly separate your work and home life, the ability to recognise a true emergency situation and respond accordingly will be greatly enhanced.

I know that I used to feel that if I worked less, my contribution to the team and to the company would decline and my value would be undermined. Having now gone through this I can see how much clearer my mind is and how much more value can be derived from the effort that I invest.

Go on, take the plunge! Reclaim your life!

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The (dis)advantages of working remotely

As you know I work a large percentage of my time from home.

Tucked away in my quiet little corner of Wales I interact with my colleagues using Skype, email, WebEx and telephones.
I have the luxury of only having to walk about 15 steps from my bedroom to my officeand as such don’t have to get up early to dodge traffic and fight the crowds. Alright, dodging six hungry cats is no simple task and I risk personal injury every day at the top of the stairs as they skillfully try to guide me to their food bowls in the kitchen downstairs…

It all sounds ideal doesn’t it?

It is largely, but these last two weeks I have been in the office full time while Emma has been off in South Africa and I have found that there are a few things that I haven’t been getting as a remote worker.

First and foremost is the corridor talk, water-cooler chats that truly keep you abreast of what is happening in any company. These impromtu meetings are generally the best place to forumlate a picture on the overall progress of the company and are a great source of ideas!

Also, being remote I tend to be far more ignorant of moods in the office, what people are thinking about things that are going on, what factions are developing as results of actions that have been taken. These are far more subtle than any formal form of communication and are more than just a reality in any company, they are also a means to creative output as people strive to solve problems together and find ways around groups with objections.

Add to that is the fact that most of us work really hard to be recognised by our peers as the best at what we do, as people with talent, skill and knowledge that add value to the lives of those around us. As a remote worker some of the praise that could be gained around the water cooler is lost and significant achievments can go unrecognised by the greater community.

All told though, I still think the benefits far outweigh these few negatives.