Sunday, March 01, 2009

Quality vs Quantity

Simple rules to work by or maybe this should be called "The Golden Rule of Thumb". This is photo from the flickr stream of Tim Ferriss - author of one of my favorite personal productivity / work-life balance books (the The 4-Hour work Week). The blog posting I'm linking to is by Gina Trapani - the founder of and also an author of two great books on hacking your life and things in it.

This is pretty much what I've tried to do for some time now. I recently made a switch from where it was my job to keep on top of things and I had to constantly communicate - to where it's now my job to get to the bottom of things and communicate results. The experience has been somewhat like shifting without a clutch but I've found that the wisdom of these two people still serves well.

To make this shift, some of the changes I have undertaken are that I stopped using the intra office IM client for everything except direct real-time collaboration. I turned off the e-mail notifier and I am working hard to stick to these rules. The hardest ones are out by 5:30 and no (work related) email at night/weekends. I admit to more that a few transgressions of those two. In my circumstances setting a time like 5:30 isn't possible. There is a time that we all know we should leave the office however. I try to keep my work hours inside of those marks. My rule is to limit my work hours outside of emergencies. The problem now is that my definition of emergency seems to shift with the given project.

During the work day I also try to keep my personal IM to a period in the early morning when I'm organizing for the day. This is a block of time I have always used the same way. Saying I read the news would be generous - I normally turn on NPR and I scan the headlines. I go a little deeper on stories that I think will be important, job related, or widely discussed during the day. Following that I do what most would call organization in that I create a battle plan for the day with my meeting schedule in mind. Then I shut down IM and minimize my email.

Then a few days a week. I reach that point during the day when I know I've reached that daily productivity max on my projects and only a fool would continue. Then I'll fire up my personal IM and dig into email (both personal and work). Lately my boss and I have found that this time is really useful for us to catch up on what's going on and make strategy for the coming days. Your results may vary but I still think the linked rules are a really good golden rule of thumb.

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