Wednesday, February 28, 2007

What Do You Do All Day?

This is the question that I think comes up the most, particularly among my neighbors. They are mystified as to how I can sit in a room in my house all day and get things done. So I'm going to log every little thing I do today. This may be instructive for me too -- the answer to the burning question, "Where does the time go?" Please note that all these times are ET -- it's really two hours earlier when all this is happening, but at some level that doesn't really matter.
  • 8:20: Start up everything, and look at who's on IM. Use GoToMyPC to connect to Real Office PC and open email. Read through all the messages and delete what can be deleted. Fire off a couple of quick replies for things that can be dealt with right then, turn some other emails into tasks to be completed.

  • 8:35: Check VoIP voicemail. One call to return right away, one call is going to take more finesse, and a consultation with my boss.

  • 8:40: Return a call and get a new, but very small task. Create item to test an idea and get back to the customer about results.

  • 8:45: Get on the phone (er....on hold) with customer support for a product that we're having trouble with to work through a fix that will be coordinated between our contract developer and the product vendor. Note to companies with long phone support queues: many of your customers have heard that breezy jazz A Lot -- change it up every now and then. Please.

  • 9:00: Still on hold...IM-ing with a colleague about assorted stuff, mostly work related.

  • 9:01: VoIP drops my call. Sigh. Back to the end of the customer support queue.

  • 9:02: Answering more email/tasks whilst on hold.

  • 9:15: Talking to customer support.

  • 9:20: Knocked out another little fix to an online form whilst talking to the support rep. Let the customer know by email that the fix was in.

  • 9:21: Quick peep at the boss' calendar to see if he's in to answer a question. Nope, he's scheduled to be on campus for meetings.

  • 9:25: Pop in on another colleague through IM and chat a little bit about what we're working on for today. Start to work on a problem she's having and make sure it isn't something wrong with a key system.

  • 9:40: IM Phone call with my colleague to discuss the issue further, plus small talk. Multi-tasking whilst talking, working on a form for a customer.

  • 9:45: Up the ante -- we go into the conference room for videoconference and further trouble-shooting of the problem my colleague is having.

  • 10:00: Off videoconference, work on some coding on a server using XP Remote Desktop.

  • 10:15: Boss pops on IM to discuss troublesome issue, work through it while continuing to make changes in code between bursts of typed conversation.

  • 10:35: Email a couple of customers about new web forms for their review, and then inside to make some coffee. (It's now 8:35 MT, and I can say goodbye to the big kid before she goes off to school, too).

  • 10:40: Back at it with a cup of green tea and some oatmeal. Pick up some voicemail that came in while I was videoconferencing earlier.

  • 10:50: Schedule an online training session for later in the week with two customers. Will serve as a prototype for regular training for my customers who wish to send mass email. On to the next thing on my task list, reviewing a third party product that a customer wishes to add to online giving forms. Piece of cake, customer will be happy.

  • 11:15: One of the customers gets back to me about their web form -- a few small edits and she'll share it with the faculty in her department. Let's crank those changes out so I can move something into the "out" column!

  • 11:30: Phone call from customer interrupts form work -- do a quick demo of an online forum utility she's considering using with a planning committee. She likes it, so she'll get back to me with the names of the people to add to it.

  • 11:45: Back to the form editing.

  • 12:15: Form out to customer for final review, time for "lunch". (Of course, it's actually only 10:00, so I run some errands preparing for my upcoming trip to the Real Office on Sunday.)

  • 1:00: Reviewing email and voicemail that came in while I was out of my office.

  • 1:20: Phone call from customer to review web form.

  • 1:30: Back on knocking off another task from the list -- adding revised info and passing on to the customer. One more item for the "out" column.

  • 1:50: Quick updates to a spreadsheet to track form status before a meeting.

  • 2:00: Pop into the conference room for a scheduled meeting. Wait for other attendees to show, and then meet.

  • 3:00: Meet a coworker virtually in the server room to allow him to reset his password on one of the boxes there. I fire up the network camera in there so I can see when he joins me.

  • 3:10: Customer call -- where did my gift go? Not to worry, I can see it from here so things are okay.

  • 3:20: I need a glass of water!

  • 3:25: Back to little issues in email -- tracking down an institutional webmaster to make a link to a new online giving form.

  • 4:05: Phone call -- work on the issue in the phone call. Then make a few more phone calls and leave messages in a few places.

  • 4:30: Wrap up emails, convert a bunch of messages that came in to tasks on my calendar.

  • 4:55: Review the schedule for upcoming onsite trip.

  • 5:00: Quitting time.

The day shifts gears so many times, I'm not achieving the "code for four hours straight" nirvana that many telecommuters expect. But I'm getting a boatload of stuff done, and people feel like they can get my help at any time. And I'd wager that my day doesn't look too different from those of my Real Office colleagues.

And that's really a good thing.

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