The Distractions of the House

Working from home is a great thing. You can sit on the sofa responding to important emails while still wearing your pyjamas. You can take a business call from bed or send that backlog of invoices out from the comfort of your dining room while you listen to Jeremy Vine on the radio. Or at least that’s what they tell you.

I’m new to the world of working from home and I have yet to fully get to grips with it. I thought I’d take this opportunity to tell you some of the problems I experience and then ask you how organise yourself when working at home.

how sharp is your saw?

How sharp is your saw? When I use the analogy of sharpening the saw, I of course refer to Stephen Covey’s habit #7 from ‘ The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ I would like to look at this from a training perspective. If you take a step back, think about your effectiveness. Just how effective are you ?Do you still have the same levels of motivation you did this time last year or is work a chore?

How do you keep your saw sharpened?

Sometimes when you sit behind your desk repeating the same process’ and going through the same cycle every month do you ever question if you could work smarter or achieve more of your monthly objectives? Do you leave everything till the last minute and wonder why you are always constantly running round like the proverbial ‘headless chicken’? This isn’t going to be a session on time management, more why training and development is so important for keeping that all important saw sharpened. If you need training, do not be afraid to ask for it, it’s an investment in your career and from your employers perspective it will reap rewards, remind them of the following:   Why train?Well it’s simple, if you want highly effective people who consistently deliver above your expectations,then training is a necessary cost, a cost which is measurable and has a high return on your investment. If you don’t have a learning and development programme in place in your organisation then it is definitely food for thought, particularly if you are looking for the following:

  • Better management and leadership
  • Motivated teams
  • Increased skills
  • Increased revenue and yields
  • Better customer focus
Why wouldn’t you want that for the people who in effect keep your business profitable?
The days of ‘plonking’ a business directory on someone’s desk and telling them to ‘get on with it’ with the words ‘ In my day….’ are long gone. The need for people to connect with customers in the smartest way possible within this competitive environment are key. If you think I being over dramatic, I am not, these strange ‘working’ practises still exist in some places, in an industry that is supposed to be progressive!
So how do you measure the effectiveness of training?

Are you a busy fool?

Do you run around here there and everywhere, mobile phone in one hand, documents in the other? Do you hear yourself telling everyone you are ‘too busy’ to do something or that you ‘haven’t got enough hours in the day’? Are you working from morning til night, and even on weekends?

If this all sounds like you, I don’t think you are alone. I’m not sure if its down to the economy and people being desperate to survive, or if it is a competitive thing that has got out of control, but more and more I see people just like this, people who leave you feeling exhausted after just a few minutes in conversation with them.

If this is you, do you really feel, at the end of your 16 hour day, that you are achieving? My view is that people like this are busy fools, people who convince themselves they are really busy but in actual fact are just avoiding making time for the things they really should be doing.

I have known people who spend the week plodding along in the office, making regular cuppa’s, going for a stroll and then they moan that they have to work all weekend. It’s like a form of self flagellation. Instead of knuckling down and methodically working through their ‘to do’ list, they prefer to work all hours so that they can tell people how busy they are.

But surely it has the opposite effect? People wont think ‘wow you’re busy’ but are far more likely to think, ‘you haven’t got time for me’. In a business sense this can be very damaging as potential clients may perceive you are at capacity and then decide to go elsewhere.

At times we can all be busy fools, I know I have run around like a headless chicken convincing myself that I didn’t have time to stop and think about what I really needed to do next, it becomes a hamster wheel that is very difficult to get off. The most important thing is recognising this and addressing it before it damages your business and maybe even your personal life.

So how can you stop being a busy fool and become more productive? Here are a few ideas:

to Ipad or not to Ipad?

Ipad 2

Which is your favourite business gadget?

A bit of a personal revelation blog this one. I have long proclaimed to all and sundry that I couldn’t see why anyone would NEED an Ipad  for business. I can see the appeal for gadget freaks and angry bird fanatics, but for serious business use a net book just seemed to be a more practical solution – well to me anyway. I know people proclaim the battery life is the deciding factor, but we all know how rapidly that declines on all Apple products. And my Samsung netbook still gives me a days worth of power without carrying a cable after 3 years of serious use.

For me the lack of a USB port or being able to plug in a projector has precluded the ipad from being  a practical option for me and it would be just a toy (and I’m not saying that I wouldn’t enjoy it as a toy but that’s not the issue here). Now I like my gadgets and I love my Itouch and Ipod , not having my Blackberry with me is like losing a limb and my shiny new 3G Kindle is the best present I’ve ever received ( and yes I admit that I carried more chargers with me on holiday than most families!)

But this holiday I made the conscious decision to leave my netbook at home. The holiday was supposed to be a complete break away. So the compromise was that I would set my emails up on my itouch and spend no more than 1 hour per day on that or the phone as I needed to to keep things ticking over back at home. My other half brought along his ipad and iphone. By the 3rd days away I’d set my emails up on his ipad. Why? Well, simply – the ease of use.

Get some sleep: You earned it.

I’ve been up and running in business for seven months now and I’ve enjoy the extra freedom that “being your own boss” allows you. That’s not to say I don’t put the hours in. In my old job I worked almost 50 hours a week and I am pleased to say I no longer do quite so much, but not far off. The difference between then and now is that I want to do this work rather than have to do the work.

I think this is fairly typical of many business owners. We tend to work long hours, certainly more than the standard 37.5 hours that many people work. It’s great that business owners are so committed to their livelihood but I often find that when the topic of hours worked is mentioned, many people declare my working week to be pitiful.

Fancy a Holiday?


Don’t we all! As soon as someone starts talking about holidays it is hard not to think about the last time we had chance to relax and unwind. As the memory floods our brain we go a bit gooey eyed and smile.


Now that I have planted that seed in your head there is no way I am going to get you to read on any further until you have had a chance to relive that last holiday but that is OK, I can wait………


You back? OK then, I have a question for you. Can you remember the last day of work before you went on that holiday? You may not remember the details but I bet you can remember cramming all the ‘must do’s’ on your todo list into those last few hours before you switched over into ‘Holiday Mode.’


That is the bit that I want you to think about. You had a deadline and no way of moving it so you were forced to pick out the most important jobs on your list and make sure that they were done whilst all the things that could wait until you got home were left. 


I bet you hardly even thought about it. I bet you didn’t spend ages pondering whether something should go on the ‘this can’t wait 2 week’s’ list or the ‘I can do that when I get home’ list. You knew instinctively where everything should go.


You tricked yourself into managing your time in the most effective way possible and IT WORKED! You got everything done didn’t you. You may even have had time to spare.