Working from home and I forgot about Facebook

Today I learned:

1. Best Practices for the home office: With knee surgery in a few weeks I am going to be unable to drive and limited in my walking tolerance for a couple weeks so I will be forced to work from home for a short period of time until I am fit enough to make the trek into work.  Critically, my recovery period coincides with a particulaly busy period in a large project with a vendor, so I will need to be efficient in the time I put in from home.

In preparing for a period of work out of the office, I was inspired today to read up on best practices for working from home. A few great sources (Lifehacker, ZenHabits, Productivity501, and Stepcase Lifehack) have helped me prepare.

My key take-aways are:

  • Prepare for the day: The goal after surgery is to resume normal activities of daily living as quickly as possible, so this fits right in. Get up, shower and get dressed. Do everything I would normally do, just skip the commute and go straight to work.
  • Stay-connected: Pre-book calls and video chats for updates with both superiors and reports at the bookends of the day to help me stay connected and on task with deliverables.
  • Take breaks: Schedule down-time to help keep the energy up. I’ll need to be in a regular routine of physio exercises and icing anyway, so building in recovery time is critical.
  • Get the right tools: I have pre-tested all the required technology (laptop, VOIP phone, remote desktop) so there should be no surprises.
  • Shut the door: Make a clean break between work and personal life, particularly when the kids are home, to make sure I remain effective in both areas.

Any other tips to keep me on track?

2. I forgot about Facebook:  A pleasant by-product of my committment to learn two things a day (and to blog about it for the first 66 days straight) has been a noticeable change in my consumption patterns on the web, specifically with respect to Social Media.

The bottom-line?

I just went a week without accessing Facebook, and until today I didn’t even notice.

I think I have subtly shifted from passive to active consumption. Over the last few weeks my media consumption has moved towards sources of inspiration, rather than simply connection. With a committment to blog two personal take-aways from every day, I have spent more time reading books, magazines, blogs, and simply trying to talk to people.

At the same time I have watched less TV, changed the sites I visit online and, interestingly, without even noticing at first I have stopped checking my stream on Facebook.  I always knew I was a big Facebook lurker and I was really just using it to kill time.  Now that I am tasked with trying to produce something creative – even something on a very small scale – on a daily basis, I have almost no use for it.

It is certainly an interesting by product of this little experiment, and may just be my favourite lesson so far.

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Email-free Day and Overtime Solves Nothing

Today I learned:

1. Email-free Day: Email has been getting out of hand for me lately. From wasted time on CYA activities (noted in an earlier blog) to the mass of incoming and outgoing messages I deal with everyday it is all a bit overwhelming.  I checked my sent items this morning and quickly determined that in the past two weeks I have sent 422 messages.

I decided today would be different.

My goal? Zero sent messages.

http://rivera-pr.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/no_email_friday.jpg

9 hours later…mission accomplished!

I will admit three times I caught myself pecking out a reply to someone but each time I quickly caught myself and either made a return call or just walked over to their desk instead.

As a result, I learned a simple lesson. You talk to a hell of a lot more people in a day when you commit to sending less email. Presumably this is a good thing. This trial showed me email-free days could be worthy of a bit more experimentation.  Finding a way to stop reading them for a day might be next.

2. Overtime solves nothing: When I chair a meeting it starts on time. People know this, so they quickly adjust and show up on time.  Very rarely do I allow my meetings to go over the scheduled time slot too, and certainly not without checking on the participants to see if it is both ok and agreed it will be worth it.

After participating in two meetings today that both started and ended late it occurred to me extra time at the end rarely solves anything. Whether you start on time or not, if you haven’t solved the problem by the scheduled end, rarely is another 15 minutes going to solve anything. Often it is better to move on and then, only if necessary, revisit later when everyone can come in fresh.