Analyze Your Work Habits!

Joe D

Good Work Habits Away from the Office

    • Know Yourself (and Your Work Habits). This philosophic tenet is particularly important to being disciplined away from an office environment. Consider what makes you more productive: being proactive well in advance or sweating things out under a tight deadline. Knowing what sets your wheels turning can help you establish work patterns and systems that bolster your discipline.

    • Keep a Comprehensive To-Do List. You're absent from anyone ready to remind you of what's going on. But knowing just what you need to do and when, in comprehensive detail, can keep you focused and motivated. No matter how you do it, be it with a PDA or Daytimer, Blackberry or calendar; be obsessive about planning out your activities.

    • Set Up a Comfortable Workspace. Ads showing a business person sprawled on a hotel bed, cell phone in one hand and calculator in the other, belong in some other world. Discipline away from the office often derives from creating a setting that singularly represents work. No matter where you are, earmark a particular spot for work.

    • Look at Time in a Different Manner. One of the pitfalls to discipline away from the office is time — or, rather, the lack of a regular schedule of events; be they meetings or business lunches. That can lead to downtime and, conceivably, a lapse in productivity. Plan ahead to make the most of those few minutes here and there to keep your discipline sharp.

    • Keep the Paper Moving. Working away from the office often means limited space. That, in turn, makes paper management critical. File those documents with which you're finished and recycle any and all papers you don't need any more. Nothing can be more discouraging and crippling to discipline than a snow bank of papers with little clue as to what's important and what's left over from 1998.

    • Keep in Touch with the Office, but Thoughtfully. Talking with colleagues and others can be a boon to discipline. Even if you can't see them, talking with others in the company is a reminder of people down the line who are counting on you. But tailor your communication accordingly. While you may want to check in with some people on a regular basis, you may want to shy away from others who, for instance, may take an hour to explain a two-minute problem.

  • Know the Dangers of Procrastination — and Avoid Them. Putting off necessary tasks melts discipline in any setting, but it's particularly destructive when you're away from the office. For one thing, there's no one physically nearby to boot you back into gear. On top of that, a task that's repeatedly put on the back burner until it becomes a bona fide headache can drain time from other responsibilities — a workload that fosters despair rather than constructive discipline.

Source: Jeff Wuorio, “Seven Steps To Good Work Habits Away From The Office,” Microsoft Small Business Center 2008.

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