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Do You Work More Effectively at Home or at Work?

work-at-the-beach.jpgI've got a question for you: how the hell do you manage to get any real work done at work? Between meetings, phone calls, emails and interruptions, there's simply no time to get anything done, let alone quality quiet time where you can actually think.

When I was an executive in the corporate world, I did all my quality work at home, usually after dinner. I'd kick back with a glass of wine and work on that presentation, business plan, or whatever was on my plate that actually required time to think. Guess it helps that I don't have kids.

Air travel was even better, no interruptions at all. It's amazing how much work you can get done in three or four hours on a plane.

Sure, there are plenty of books and coaches with methods for being more efficient, but I'm not a fan. Meetings, communications, and even interruptions are important for senior executives. They're how you know what's really going on and stay on top of things â€" pretty damn important when it comes to decision making. They're also good for relationship and team building.

Perhaps most importantly, segmenting tasks between work and home helped to reduce my stress level.

Here are five executive tasks better suited for work, likewise for home:

Tasks to do at work

  • Customer and other external meetings. Top priority, of course. And mostly on the road, anyway.
  • Internal meetings. Some are a waste of time, but you've got to do staff meetings, business planning, periodic reviews, board meetings, and the like.
  • Hallway meetings. For better or worse, sometimes where the real meeting happens, especially in small or dysfunctional companies.
  • Editing non-critical documents and content. If they don't require too much concentration.
  • Budget planning. You can only get so much of this done on your own without input from managers and help from finance folks.
Tasks to do at home
  • Presentations. You need peace and quiet, time to concentrate, and a clear head for new ideas.
  • Business planning, strategizing. Ditto.
  • Writing / editing critical documents. Like SEC docs; too tedious to do in interrupt mode.
  • Employee reviews. Same goes for any annual or relatively rare and unusual task.
  • Preparation for trips. When you travel a lot, as most executives do, you need prep time, usually the night before a big trip.
Bottom Line:
Is it just me, a function of the fast-paced technology industry where I worked, or is this a foregone conclusion when you reach a certain level of management? If it's the latter, it would seem that all executives need really independent and understanding spouses for this to work, right?

Or maybe I just should have read one of those time-management or effectiveness books 20 years ago. Too late now. Now I do all my work at home.

(image by chiacomo via Flickr, CC 2.0), from Can ROWE Improve Your Workplace Productivity? by CC Holland

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