Working smarter, not harder

Work has been the focus of my life for a long time, especially the 5.5 years prior to my new job. Being a self-employed contractor meant that every hour I worked, I got paid. Then when I started ReceiptWallet, I had to not only do my contract work, I had to handle support and development of ReceiptWallet which took up more time.

Last summer I started to re-evaluate my life and started my path towards working less and working smarter. Taking a full time job was my first step. Deciding to sell ReceiptWallet was my next step. Now that my work consists of one day job, it’s time for me to clean up my act and make better use of my time both during the day and after work. A friend of mine sent me a link to a Merlin Mann podcast about blocking off time and “ganging” requests that people make of me. While the podcast may offend some with the language that Merlin uses, it is definitely worth a listen. Most of my work day is spent in a reactionary fashion; instant messaging is part of work and reacting to issues is another part. Luckily, in the last six months, my IT team and I have been able to turn the constant fires into something that is a lot less frequent. However, I still am finding that I need to carve out time to focus on the harder projects. I need to take the incoming requests, log them and get to them later. Ever since I wrote NotifyMail, I’ve interrupt driven. (Curse email…I got addicted way too long ago!)

Most of the people I work with are in the central time zone, so around 3 pm my time, the interruptions pretty much stop. I’m going to try to use the time from 3 to 5 pm as a daily time to focus on the bigger projects that take a lot more concentration. The smaller projects, I can do during the day as they don’t take as much concentration. I’m hoping that I can really stick to this. Already I’ve met my goal of working less (my boss probably doesn’t want to hear that :-)), so I think it is achievable. While I have handled as much work that has been thrown at me in the past, I’m in a different position juggling more. The key to thriving, in my opinion, is to work much smarter and work less. Some people can work all the time, but I found that I’m not really effective after 5-6 pm in terms of my heavy thinking. Believe it or not, I never pulled an all-nighter in college; the closest I came was staying up to 3 or so working on the school paper, but that was monkey work doing page layout.

I’m crossing my fingers that the changes in my life in the past year will help make me a more balanced person. Next up, finding a hobby and actually doing it! LEGO building is fun, but I’m looking for something challenging as well. We’ll see.

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