Last week I wrote about a few steps that I took to limit my exposure to daily time wasters. I have dropped the Yahoo newsgroups completely now and took a few more steps to free up more time during the day. I hope you find them helpful.
Immediately after I locked myself out of the Yahoo groups I realized just how much info I was getting out of the professional (read: not sbs) newsgroups so I asked a few on my staff to sign up for them and forward me anything of relevance that I may need to look at during the day. These are generally discussions on major products that we use internally along with the major breaking news that I might not be getting through the RSS feeds.
I also ended up blocking Google Reader along with Gmail because I just did not want to find myself going through the Engadget every time something new came up. I now review our internal “shared” feed lists and I proudly get my IT advice from a CPA ™ from Susan’s blog who sits in my sidebar. That easilly shaved quite a bit of time each day.
The hardest thing to dump has been the IM. I have completely ripped out (read: safe mode, delete, replace with dummy file, deny r/w/x to Administrator) Microsoft Live Messenger. This was hard. Not only is the IM my core distraction but its also a core communication tool. Not just business but personal too. But it just had to be done, with what I’m doing now I need to concentrate and that means not wondering wtf that icon she picked for her display means. I still have the internal IM going via Office Communications Server as well as full SIP access so I’m not out of reach by any means but its limiting the people that can contact me to the folks I really need to work with right now.
Last step, sadly, meant demanding a heck of a lot more from the software I use. I have stopped using Microsoft Outlook 2007. The best piece of software ever written, the most productive and most effective application I have on my desktop… just had to go. I have given it a few months and it just is not meeting the needs of performance and reliability I expect in 2007. I have completely replaced it with Micorosft Exchange 2007 Outlook Web Access (which our OWN partners will soon be getting free of charge) and I am able to do pretty much everything I need to via the web without my desktop freezing, calendar freezing, Outlook crashing and taking 5–10 minutes to rebuild during the day. I just can’t afford that.
Finally, taking a page from Eileen Browns book: deleting old messages. I haven’t quite gone as far as to delete them but I have taken steps to move them from my inbox and improve the Exchange on-demand search which is just specacular.
Let’s see, what else.. I have continued the tradition of eliminating myself and others with small shell scripts. I have finished the full integration of Asterisk/Trixbox into Shockey Monkey, so now I not only know when I miss a call but it also creates an organized callback listing for me in the Shockey Monkey. I also have to thank Allen St. Clair for the recommendation of creating a customizable priority schedule that wanted brought in from Autotask – I look at the tickets assigned to me and I run a quick “priority” update on all the tickets in the view. I sit, consider, update and work through them throughout the day. That, along with the intraday 2 mile run, has really reduced the stress significantly. I don’t feel overloaded at all, I don’t feel stressed, I don’t feel burried in work – I just click on “Prioritize” button and a little container slides in the view for me to add priorities from 0–100. Then I drill down the list one by one. Shockey Monkey by itself lets me do the work of 5 people, I don’t know why it took me so long to sit down and do it but I should have done it a long time ago.
I am far from done but I have to admit – none of my fears have come to fruition. I am not out of touch, I am not uninformed, I am not stressed and I am not overworked. It has really allowed me to simplify how I approach my day and by the end of it get a lot more stuff done.
That is not to say that there aren’t a lot of areas that need improvement. Here are my top time wasters at the moment:
- Sales phone calls. Long gone are the days during which I flew to the phone every time it rang, excited about selling something. Everything is selling, almost faster than we can keep up with it. We’re even selling stuff we don’t have or know how to do now (“I just landed Windows Server 2008 rollout!”)
- Facebook. I don’t think I want to get rid of it. Friends (friendships, people) are what makes this life worth living and I just love the folks I get to spend my idle time with. Both of them.
- Dog. Today I fed my dog Total and yogurt because we ran out of dog food. Then I taped it and cut a movie for my wife. Sue me, I needed a break.
- Paperwork. I hate paper. Really, I do. Give me an eform any day over the dreaded signatures, initials, dots, lines and acknowledgements.
I think I am getting to the point where my days are becoming more optimized so I can afford the new projects. And more time goes into Shockey Monkey which further decreases the amount of time spent during the day on other items. It’s getting better!