Staying Focused While Teleworking

October 4, 2011

Chapter 14 – Balancing Work Life and Home Life

You need to find time to get your work done too. It sounds funny, but your coworkers may interrupt you more when you work from home. In the office someone can see that you are busy or that your door is closed. If someone calls you they just assume you will stop what you are doing and talk to them.

This isn’t an issue on every team. If your team doesn’t communicate well you will have problems, but time to get your work done won’t be one of them. However, if your team, or just a couple of members of your team, are especially chatty then you will have a problem finding the time to finish your tasks.

Many cubicle dwellers solve this problem with a virtual door: a simple sign outside their cubicle which reads “THE DOOR IS CLOSED.” This makes it easy for everyone to tell that the person inside is busy and shouldn’t be bothered unless it is really important.

A closed door is the opposite of good communication, but this is another place where balance is required. You need to be available for your team so you can collaborate, but you can’t chat on IM and finish your tasks at the same time. Getting interrupted by a coworker is a good thing —it means they are asking for your input— but it comes at a cost.

Every time someone asks you a question you have to stop working to answer it. Every time an instant message pops up on your screen it disrupts your train of thought. IM, IRC, conference calls, and emails can cause your productivity to die the death of a thousand cuts. When it is time to work, close the door by setting your status as “busy”.

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