I like it when things get into a routine. I like it when I know how my day starts and how it will end – I work better, it gives me control on how I allocate my time, and it makes it easier for me to deal with unexpected things that happen during the day.
All is well and good, but after a few weeks or months of pure routine, I feel the world zooming out of focus, everything becomes a blur, and I feel that if I don’t change something soon, I’ll blend into a wall – no one will see me, and I’ll disappear. So I always try to do something other than work. It’s not always easy, so I went online to look for ways I can improve my efficiency, and to set some new goals.
A calendar and a red marker
One of the hardest things for people working from home to do is develop good habits for anything that isn’t work – getting more exercise, eating healthy, learning a new language, writing a book – whatever your goal is beyond work. It’s hard, for a simple reason: you’re in control for the entire work day, and when the day draws to a close, it’s so much easier to let things take their usual course. I read a piece about acquiring new habits by Mr. Jerry Seinfeld himself. It doesn’t require any special or expensive arrangements, and it goes like this:
“Get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker. He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day. ‘After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain’”.
Group you time
One of the things I strongly believe in is that not all days were created equal. Some days it’s easier to focus, and the job flows smoothly. On other days, I find myself more scattered: there are too many tasks, too many worries, too many dreams. There’s really nothing we can do to erase these nutty days, but we can certainly improve them. I’ve learnt to deal with this phenomenon by turning these day into single-task days: Today I write; tomorrow I meet with people; the day after, I analyze data. And so on. So in less focused times, turn your days into single-task days: conference-calls today, talk to no one tomorrow, etc. Chris Iona wrote a nice piece on the different ways he arranges his working day.
Workplace Haiku: The conference call
The Financial Times used to ran a weekly “office Haiku”. A Haiku, as Wikipedia defines it, consist of 3 lines. The first and last lines of a Haiku have 5 syllables and the middle line has 7 syllables. The lines rarely rhyme.
Face to face
Not as nice
As his voice