Staying Productive in Your Underwear

By | May 1, 2006

I’m researching a piece on how to cut back the amount of stuff you have to read, particularly RSS feeds. So I have spent the morning reading blogs related to the tools I’m writing about. In the process, of course, I find more than 20 new blogs that are interesting enough for me to add to the feed reader that I’m supposed to be in the process of thinning out. It’s the online equivalent of packing up all your stuff in newspaper ready to move and then sitting down and spending the whole day reading fascinating news items on scraps of year-old newspaper.

Anyway, I realise I should write more about working from home, something I’ve done (the working from home, not the writing about it) for more than five years now. Here’s a great bunch of tips from Kevin Yank, who’s based in Australia although, yes, he’s a Canadian:

He recommends maintaining your morning routine as if you’re going to the office, unplugging the TV, and, most interestingly, purging your work PC of distractions. His home PC, meanwhile, “constantly checks my personal email, downloads podcasts, fetches low-priority feeds from a plethora of distracting web sites, and is replete with cute little apps that generate eye candy and always seem to need upgrading when I should be doing something else.”

Great idea to have two computers if you can manage it. Although I’m divided on whether it’s possible to divide work and personal stuff these days. Doesn’t one feed off the other? I found myself yesterday arguing fiercely with a friend from a major U.S. bank who said she was not even able to access web-mail on her work computer. To me this is daft; limiting workers’ access to such things merely panders to lazy IT staff and undermines the chances workers will be well-informed, motivated and well-connected. Of course, as smart phones take over these kinds of connectivity roles — email, IM, VoIP, presence, RSS, blogging, photo taking and sharing — all these efforts will be worthless anyway. Then we’ll have to check our phones at the door. Or work from home.

Anyway, I like Kevin’s ideas. The more professional you make your environment, the better you will function. Now I’m off for a lie-down.

4 thoughts on “Staying Productive in Your Underwear

  1. Graham

    The only thing that works for me is writing a things to do list the night before or at the breakfast table and sticking to it, ignoring email, RSS and whatever else until the list is finished. The problem comes when it’s time for a nice cuppa and you start browsing emails and RSS and before you know it it’s knocking off time.

  2. Kenneth Gankofskie

    Instead of the two computer solution to work and play ( or personal ) a product like VMware solves the problem perfectly. Create a virtual work environment ( no distracting programs or sites ). All your data stays on one computer with differents virtual setups for different task.

  3. Chris Saad

    We’re actually working on a little attention management app that will help people stay informed while they work while trying to minimize the need to open up a feed reader and get distracted from work.

    The reason I mention this though is that the idea of being in ‘work mode’ while on a computer has been something we considered. Being able to change the profile of what you care about to a work mode so that only work related stuff is interrupting you is something we want to build in sooner rather than later.


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