Doing work at work

One of the first things I do when I start a new job is to find a day in which I can block out on my calendar a minimum of 4 hours (and where possible even 6). I setup a recurring appointment right into infinity. And for people on my team, I tell them about it.

Why do I do this?

Because I need time to work.

It seems counterintuitive, that you must schedule time to work while at work, but in practical terms, it’s not. How many of us work with:

  • Multiple teams
  • Multiple teams distributed across a region
  • Multiple teams distributed across the globe
  • More than one person

The moment your work requires more than just you, you will have a meeting. And working in project management, product management, and business analysis, my job requires well more than one person.

There are meetings. And then there are meetings for meetings. And even if you manage to par down meetings to actual working events, there is work you can do real-time in collaboration with a team, and then there is work you must do on your own.

This sounds almost heretical, but I try to stick to the 40-hour week. I do it for my health, for consistent rest and relaxation cycles, to maintain a social life which maintains my emotional life, and to make my commute manageable.

I also do it because when I do need to pull more, when I need to get there by 7am and persist past 10pm, I have the energy to do it. If every day I go to the office and I reserve my work to either the crack of dawn with the songbirds or to dusk when a majority of the place becomes a ghost town, I’m going to burn out. And burn out is an ugly, difficult thing.

So, I nip it in the bud from the beginning. I schedule in time to do work at work. Crazy idea, isn’t it?

And hopefully, something that is catching, because I think we need to take back our work days from too many meetings and too much reactive firefighting. We’ll all be more productive for it.


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