Written In Whatever Works

yes written in the sand

Wow, it’s been a while, but I’m back… at least for this post.

There are times when it does become a question when trying to establish guidelines if you are taking the “written in stone” method or the more ambiguous and flexible “written in mud” approach.

“Written in stone” implies this is how it is, and there is virtually no wiggle room for you to move outside the guideline. You essentially have to work within them which is excellent in the beginning. However, as time goes on and things evolve, you might start to see bits and pieces of your stone tablet starting to chip away.

Those strong and idealistic guidelines proved very helpful in establishing your processes and creating the environment you are working with. However, they also may have become even more restrictive than you expected as these guidelines now control your work versus you controlling the work product you want to produce.

Hence, the idea of “written in mud” comes to light. Yes, as the phrase implies, it could get messy. Still, because it offers some ambiguity and more flexibility than the stone practices, that messiness allows you to try out new things within reason and carry on with your evolving workflow.

Your written-in-mud guidelines can evolve with the times versus needing to be carved out of another stone tablet that will likely fall prey to the same ravages of time the first set of written-in-stone guidelines did.

Which approach is best for you and your projects will ultimately be your decision, although it will eventually come down to the approach: written-in-whatever-works.

Get It Right The First Time

You’ve only added two lines – why did that take two days! ~ Matt Lacey

The above is a great read and another aspect of providing support. In this case, the premise is “fixing a bug” and getting it right the first time.

Ideally, every time you have an interaction with someone in support you will be able to provide them with a solution in your first response… and sometimes that may take a bit longer than usual but most of those times getting a solution will be much more appreciated than a quick response prolonging the support request.

Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

Take Breaks

Although it may be important to set boundaries, it’s just as important to take breaks, too!

If you are working from home, you should take advantage of your own personal support system. Take breaks to spend time with your family… if you are coming from working in an office environment this would have been difficult to do. Use the flexibility of remote working to get in some extra quality time with your family, take your dog for an extra walk, or just spend some quiet time to yourself and enjoy that new tea you found!

Taking a break during the day will help keep you from burning out. It’s a healthy work habit to keep — or create if necessary.

Just like you should be getting up from your desk “in the office”, do the same in your remote work space… and take advantage of the extra benefits of spending more time with your family or slipping in that quick exercise routine… whatever it is, just make sure to take breaks for your own well-being.

Photo by Alisha Hieb on Unsplash

Set Boundaries

Often when working remotely, it is important to have a dedicated workspace… or, at least a dedicated work schedule.

The key is to be able to ensure you can focus on your work when you need to and having a dedicated space where others know you are remote working; or, an explicit work schedule to let others know when you are working. Both of these create a sense of respectable boundaries where you can feel comfortable you will not be easily disrupted by some outside influence.

Sure, make a comfortable bed for your best four-footed friend to hang out while you work; let the “kids” know they need to try to be respectfully quieter during “working hours”; and, let your partner know that although your schedule does offer some great flexibility when remote working the whole point is you still need to be working and meeting those expectations.

Setting boundaries helps everyone that is affected by remote working, especially when first entering that type of environment. Try to make sure they are clear while also being respectful of others and you should be good to go… and remember to follow those “rules” yourself — the beach isn’t going anywhere.

Photo by Sapan Patel on Unsplash

Don’t Change Anything

One of the biggest concerns when migrating from an in-office environment to a remote environment is simply the changes that are involved — in short, don’t change anything!

Of course, your commute is going to change — more prep time!

You might even look at making a real breakfast instead of a drive-thru coffee shop on the way to work — great, better meal management!

You don’t have to pack a lunch, you can plan a good midday meal or activity for your lunch break.

You can work in your pajamas — “don’t change anything”, get dressed for work! You might find something a bit more casual or comfortable according to your remote work environment but keep in mind you are going to work not a slumber party.

Start work at the same time you did when you went into the office and work as long as you normally would. Take your lunch! Time management is one of the easiest things to let slip both in working too much and not putting in an appropriate amount of time and energy into the day.

The key to my success and rapid change from an in-office desk job to a high-efficiency remote worker was to keep as much of my day the same in both environments so I could continue to focus on the work versus the short commute, the more nutritious lunches versus labeling my food in the fridge… and getting dog-walking breaks when one of them needed to go out or just wanted some attention.

Don’t Change Anything! — unless it makes you more productive and allows you to do your work better and more effectively.

Perhaps even more important, be honest with yourself when asking if the above is true when making those changes.

Photo by Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash