Archive for May 15th, 2012

Staying productive Working from Home too May 15th, 2012

Vinod Kumar

Working in big MNC’s there are some perks that as an employee you have and will relish – one of them is this “Working from home”. But how to maximize on the benefits is a challenge for many of us out there. I know because of this very reason that many of the companies atleast in India refrain from giving this Working from Home option. I am super addicted to this option, though I try to use with caution and minimally. There are interesting stats, from the Skype site that close to 34% of Americans works from home part-time it seems. There is surely an extra comfort, flexibility in your schedule, the extended morning sleeps and lastly the point to ponder is – are we as productive as we are if at office? Let me give you some of my known best practices I use to keep the same levels of commitment and get work done at the same time with flexibility.

I am not here to say this is a bad idea, but though a big time supporter of this concept – don’t want people to abuse the flexibility offered. Understand, for working mom’s these are great benefits. But at the same time to balance this life, there needs to be some method to the madness and I am here to call out some of them.

Juggling your time

The #No:1 thing that comes to my mind in this subject is – how should you be managing your time? This step includes to start the day looking at the work in hand and how the schedules are for you to play the whole day. Yes, you are taking a chance of staying at home to complete one-two tasks like pickup kids, get that plumbing work done, goto a bank maybe etc. So keeping that back of your mind – look how are the meetings lined up, how will you track your projects, when are you going to email, what are the background tasks that got assigned to you etc. Now keep blocking your time appropriately to make sure there are lesser distractions of emails, facebook, twitter or anything else at home. Make sure the reason why you decided to stay at home doesn’t interfere anywhere in the middle of the schedule you have in mind. If that being the case, you are better off taking the day off and giving that much needed time to family and sort things off.

Being Organized

I think this is very much in-line to the same point made above. But think – as freelancers or managers for projects, your time at home is crucial too because you get paid by the hour. I am a big time supporter that you need to have that critical TODO list. Do you track what you do during the day? Have you had a chance to see this tool? I had used it long time back RescueTime – it tracks how much time you spend on various applications and what are your patterns. Based on this it gives you an indicator to what are your trends. This can be your background tool to monitor yourself.

Use the Sticky Notes or I am more comfortable in writing the activity list and love to tick through the day. I know it is old style but it has worked for me over the years like a charm. You can use any method that works – the idea is to do it :).

Prioritize your job functions

A lot of them have asked me in the past, how I manage doing a number of things. Well, it is about the previous two points and finally about making time for everything that I want to do – work, blogging, time with family, shopping, entertainment etc. So there are ways and time when everything gets the much needed time slice from life. I call this out explicitly because if you are a developer then you need to write the code than troubleshooting some bug, if you are a freelancer then you shouldn’t be getting swamped into just the financial closure when you must be out there training / consulting / coding, if you are a manager then you should be looking at the project planning and alerts rather than building some random reports. So there are so many of these side activities that sometimes drain you away of the much need time for the important things. So this is what I call prioritize and deliver – delegate if required and have an appetite for NO if that must be used as extreme measure.

Final words

These principles are not specific to Working from Home but are critical for such tasks. I use these techniques irrespective of the situation and you will find a note or sticky note beside me when there are too many activities to complete in a given day. Prepare, plan, execute and track on progress. The cycle can be as simple as this for everything we do. The same can be also said for preparing presentations :).

What are your methods? Do share them so that we can learn from each other :). Happy working …

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