Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Putting a choke-hold on my time

The big, angry time blob
One of my biggest challenges working from home is time.  Peter Drucker said in many of his works that time is the most precious commodity.  Businesses can get more capital, more marketing, but no more time (a great way to get introduced to Druker's work is The Daily Drucker).

The issue for me isn't getting things done (although David Allen's Getting Things Done is definitely a good read), it is getting the right things done.  When I sit down at my computer in the morning to get to work, the day looks like an unstructured (and angry) blob.  I usually have

Fun things:
  • Spending time with my daughter
  • Spending time with my wife
  • 20% of time for research
  • Client meetings/deliverables
  • The Verghis Group meetings/deliverables
  • EuclidKids meetings/deliverables
  • Writing client reports
  • Participating in social networks - for work
  • Participating in social networks - for fun
  • Marketing (reaching out to clients, working on content for conferences)
  • Volunteer work for my daughter's school
  • Exercising (sometimes fun, sometimes unfun)
  • Checking in on the Final Four (coming this weekend!)
  • This awesome blog!
Unfun things:
  • Anything with the word "accounting" in it
  • Finding the washing machine under the dirty clothes pile among other household chores
Applying a choke-hold to the blob

When I started working from home, I tried to get control of my angry blob the way I had from the office.  My meetings structured my time and everything else had to fit in between. 

Thankfully, working from home broke my system!  I have much more productive time in the day (no commute, no water cooler chat) and need to own up to my priorities (Covey's Urgent/Important matrix is helpful here as seen in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People).  I do that by putting a squeeze on the most important things. I create artificial pressure on myself to get the most important things done and leave the rest out of site. 

Sometimes that means ignoring a project because it needs to be done, but not right now.  Sometimes that means blocking off time to see my daughter's performance at school.  Sometimes that means turning off my cell phone, going to a coffee shop with no free Wi-Fi and really focusing on the important.

So apply the choke-hold!  You can make the blob surrender!


  1. I've never read this in a management book, but something that helps me to manage my time on "blobby" days is to have boss mode and worker mode. When I start the week, I'll go into boss mode and lay out the tasks for the week for worker mode. Then, when I'm feeling like goofing off, or struggling to get things done, I'll just look at the schedule that boss mode made, and work off of it. Of course, boss mode has to check in from time to time and make changes to the schedule, but it works better for me than other time management hacks.

    1. Love it! A few management gurus out there have said that we often let ourselves off the hook when we wouldn't tolerate the same behavior from our staff. Splitting your personality is a great way of not letting yourself off the hook!