Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Take a break - for the sake of your health and your profits

I'm grateful to LearnStuff for sending me this infographic.

Although it turns the stats into an easy read, there's a lot to think about here, and I feel that us home workers may be even more prone to these problems.

A five-minute break can improve your accuracy and reduce wrist and eye problems and fatigue. Taking a walk at lunchtime can improve your sleep, energy and mood.

This is just an extract, visit  to see loads more important stats and advice.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

More productive or less productive when working from home?

I've seen bosses and colleagues cynically equate working from home with a paid day off, and the title of my blog is a direct reference to this attitude.

But a survey says that we are more productive when away from the office because there are fewer distractions.

This item on the NY Times says that reading using a handheld device provides many distractions. I would apply this to working from home too - if I'm bored with what I'm supposed to be doing, the open tabs along the top of my browser or the apps in my dock become way too tempting.

I'm sure that distractions at home (household tasks, social networking, receiving a delivery...) balance the distractions at work cited in the survey (chatting with colleagues or walking to someone's office to make a request) and I would say that working unsupervised gives you more freedom to give in to the distractions than when working with others.

However, there are other benefits too. The article makes the point that for the employer (or the self-employed) there's a huge financial saving to be had from working from home, and for the worker the lack of a commute is a huge saving in time, stress and money. These things make working from home cheaper and more enjoyable, and I have no doubt outweigh a difference in productivity.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Don't feel bad about taking a break

When you're busy, it's difficult to take a break and spend a little time doing something apparently unproductive, but I've just read this report which justifies it.

I've often said that I do my best thinking when I go out walking. I've treated a break for knitting or a little surfing as a treat or a rest, but maybe these things also have real productive value.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

More on prioritising tasks

I'm sure I'm not the only one who looks at the to do list and can't be bothered to do any of it.

And then picks up my knitting or picks the thing from the list that is most appealing. I've said in previous posts 'why not?'

How about this trick; write beside each task a monetary value and how soon that value could be realised. Then think about the next big goal - the next new car or holiday.

Suddenly the list looks quite different and it's more obvious which one to do first!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

work / life balance

I've just read this in a fascinating list of business failure post-mortems:
Make an environment where you will be productive. Working from home can be convenient, but often times will be much less productive than a separate space. Also its a good idea to have separate spaces so you’ll have some work/life balance.
I certainly don't have a separate space. And it's true, distractions can spoil productivity. But those distractions are things like Facebook (which I now try very hard to keep closed) and new emails popping into my inbox (which are always far more compelling that what I'm working on at the time).

Those are things which would still be a problem if I had a separate space. Not related to the fact that my home is my workspace and vice versa.

But the really fascinating thing is that the article made me think about productivity and I'd written this post before I really noticed the bit about work/life balance.

And now I have, I still don't think there's much to think about. Sometimes I work, sometimes I live and do whichever I feel is appropriate at the time, and that's not a problem at all.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Glass half-full thinking

Hurray! my local council have taken the trouble to write to me to tell me that I need do nothing to continue to enjoy the benefits of their service. Happy days.

Only a council could call collecting money from me a 'service'. Not just any old service, it's an 'increasingly efficient service'.

The letter is an amazing exercise in glass half full thinking. As well as 'increasingly efficient service', it includes phrases such as 'continue to receive the benefits', 'the good news is' and 'enjoy the full benefits'.

The full benefits that I will continue to enjoy by taking no action [through paying by direct debit] seem to be that if they take more than they should from my bank, I'm entitled to a full refund, and that if they want to take more than I expect from my bank account, they will write to tell me beforehand.

I would actually call these 'things that I would take for granted' or 'things that wouldn't even be in question if I were paying by other means' rather than 'benefits'.

I'm only kidding and I don't have a problem with paying my local tax, and DD makes things really easy.

My point is that there's probably a lesson to be learned here in making something bad sound like a favour...

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

creating more time

Finding enough time has become a real problem.

One remedy has come, as discoveries often do, by accident.

For a completely different reason, I found myself noting details of my tasks with times. The exercise has been a real eye opener.

Certain activities which I suspected were eating up my time disproportionately were actually taking even more time than I'd thought. Dropping that part of the business has removed an unprofitable activity as well as saving perhaps an hour every day.

There has been another benefit too. Noting what you're working on keeps you focussed. When you finish one task it makes you decide on the next job and start it, rather than turning to Facebook. when you're working on a task, knowing that it's being timed curbs the tendency to get up and make a cup of tea. This has also created a noticeable amount of time in the day.

Being able to see a list of completed tasks at the end of the day also makes for a satisfying day.

I can't recommend this simple exercise highly enough.