My thoughts in response to a great article by Lynn Allen on CADalyst.com
Lynn has some great tips on setting up a work environment at home. She tells you how to keep your work life and home life from blurring together just because they take place in the same building, your home. From my own experience I found Lynn’s tips to be so true and so helpful if you want to get work done at the same pace you did while working at the office. Her article inspired me to write this supplement to her tips.
Get a daily ritual that separates work mode and home mode. Make a promise to yourself that you will clock x hrs of productive work time each day. If you have work that does not require you to be available to others at a specific time of day you can be more flexible with your start and stop times. If you are a morning person you can start earlier than your former office hours for example. Take breaks from work just like you did at the office. Standup, move around, step away from your computer.
Finally, and this is very important, keep a log of when you start and stop work. This ritual holds you accountable to yourself. I use Notepad to keep a daily journal for one big reason, F5. Try it. What does F5 do in Notepad?
With one keystroke you get a time stamp. Notepad comes with Windows so you already have the tool. Now you just need the technique. Tech-what? Technique – what goes into that text file you keep as a journal.
The value of a journal is its
- and level of detail.
Before you start journaling you need to understand its purpose. A journal is a history of what you did and when you did it. Rather than keeping things in your head write them down. This frees your mind to focus on other things rather than worrying about what you will forget. No, no, no, sticky notes are not a good system. You need one place to call home for your journal. One place to find what you needed to remember. Text files are searchable, sticky notes are not. (Try doing Ctrl-F on a sticky note.)
Keeping a journal makes you a better you, a less forgetful you, a more productive you.
Setup a folder on your computer. C:\Journal\ is an example. I go a step further and use C:\Journal\2020\. I also keep one (1) txt file per day. 2020-06-25.txt for example. Why a text file and not a Word doc? Text files are universal and timeless. You do not need a special program like MS Word to open the file. You want to minimize the amount of time required to capture the details of your day. If journaling takes too much time you won’t do it. Notepad launches fast and does not have a complex UI. MS Word is overkill for me. The value of a journal is its convenience, consistency, reliability, simplicity, and level of detail.
What goes into a journal? First and foremost time stamps. These are the markers of when things occurred, a start time and a stop time with the date (7:14 2020-07-18) . Using Notepad.exe you have the F5 key that inserts the time and date in one keystroke. That one keystroke gives your notes their place in history. If you bill for your time then you know the value of writing down what you did and how long it took to do. If you spoke with someone and needed to remember what was said, write it in your journal. When you create a new online account. Write the url, username, password. Label what you write down. Treat your entries as though you are having a memory lapse and need to explain it again to yourself, concisely of course. If I am working on a computer file I will copy and paste the full path and file name of what I was working on. Writing stuff down is worth the effort. If you have existed without a journal up to this point then you only have what you can remember as an information resource. Your journal is an information resource. Imagine your journal as a wiki-me.
Keep your journal open all day long (I am assuming you work on your computer all day long). Save often. Let me restate for emphasis of the importance. SAVE OFTEN You won’t appreciate the importance of saving until it is too late and you have lost information that can never be recovered. When you are separated from your computer keep a paper notebook with you and write down the date and time and notes that you can later transcribe into your journal.
Imagine your journal as a wiki-me.
Your audience is you and only you. Your journal is not intended to be shared with anyone else. Write down the things you need to remember. Keep your journal in a place that you can find easily. Keeping a journal makes you a better you, a less forgetful you, a more productive you.
Your journal can be a great resource when composing emails. Copy and paste what you intended to tell someone from your journal into your email draft. The information may be bits and pieces that span several days but collectively tell the whole story. At first, keeping a journal will seem like extra work. Keep calm and carry on. The value of your journal will be revealed to you when you turn to it to find that snippet of information that would have otherwise been lost.