As a QA director, I focus particularly on the quality of our products of course but it is also true on how I try to manage both my professional and personal life. I’m not particularly interested to do a lot at an average level but rather do maybe less but at an exceptional level. Optimally I’d like to do a lot at an exceptional level but if you want to reach an optimal work-life balance, you will need to compromise.
I ran across this article on lifehacker and got interested by this picture describing some best practices to manage your work day.
I’ve always liked the idea of controlling how often I check my email. Now that I’ve implemented PIFEM (read here), I find it much easier to leave email accumulate for a few hours during each days and manage the reading during time boxed period throughout the day. I’m currently down to 6, 3 in the morning and 3 in the afternoon. I think I can go easily down to 3 ! I write what I need to write at anytime during the day as suggested by the board.
I still have a tendency to check email during evenings (thanks to my blackberry …) but rarely answer unless there is a hot customer situation. Same goes for week-end. I rarely use phone during emergencies as all my managers and key people have blackberry. I’m usually able to reach them if needed.
The focus on 1-3 activities max per day is a given. At all level of the organization, you should be able to identify your goals for the week and decompose these goals in tasks which can be completed during days of the week. I don’t necessarily log status of my activities every day. This is usually a weekly or bi-weekly activity. A way for me to manage my roadmap accordingly.
Chat is a double edges sword. If you don’t manage it properly, you can spend your whole day talking about the results of your favorite soccer team. However, it’s always a great way to get information which you will never get during meetings or status email. You won’t be able to get the temperature of your organization if you don’t get out of your office, make yourself visible and available.
Finally, trying to get out of the office at a fixed hour is a good principle in my mind. The actual time is not very important. What’s important is to have enough time during your day to do everything you need to do and to have enough time for your personal life. Depending on your situation, the balance may vary.