Coming off a 65-hour work week, this article on being happy and productive at work from Raible Designs definitely caught my attention. The author, Matt Raible, points out some common sense approaches but also brings up some good suggestions I hadn’t thought of before…
Work long hours on Monday and Tuesday. This especially applies if you’re a contractor. If you can only bill 40 hours per week, working 12-14 hours on Monday can get you an early-departure on Friday. Furthermore, by staying late early in the week, you’ll get your productivity ball-rolling early. I’ve often heard the most productive work-day in a week is Wednesday.
I’ve been following this advice without even realizing it for a couple of years now. It’s definitely nice to put in a sub-eight-hour day on Friday. It helps make for some longer-feeling weekends!
Avoid meetings at all costs. Find a way to walk out of meetings that are unproductive, don’t concern you, or spiral into two co-workers bitching at each other. While meetings in general are a waste of time, some are worse than others. Establish your policy of walking out early on and folks will respect you have stuff to do. Of course, if you aren’t a noticeably productive individual, walking out of a meeting can be perceived as simply “not a team player”, which isn’t a good idea.
I’m fortunate enough not to have a lot of meetings I regularly attend at work, but I see some people whose schedules include seven hours of meetings daily. How these people ever get anything done is beyond me.
Ask for more responsibility. If your job sucks, but the company is pretty cool – you may want to ask for a shift in responsibilities. I was once an HTML Developer at a .com. It sucked because we were constantly waiting on the Java Developers to fix bugs we found in their code. Finally, I got tired of waiting and asked my boss to show me how to fix the Java bugs. Granted, I wrote some pretty horrendous code at first, but my boss and co-workers helped a lot and w/in a year I was doing 80% of the Java Development.
Granted, if you’re already drowning in work, you probably don’t want to ask for more work. But I’ve been in this situation before where I’m blocked in my work waiting for someone else to finish his, so it was faster for me to learn his skill and do the work myself. Unfortunately this sort of backfired because I’m now only the second person at work with that skill, so people have started coming to me first when they need it.
There is one bit of advice Matt gives with which I wholeheartedly disagree…
Most things can be learned by reading. If you want to learn something new (for your current or next career), the best thing to do is read. The world’s knowledge resides in books and you can learn a lot. Of course, the best way to retain that knowledge is by doing, but reading is a great first step.
For me, doing something is the only way to learn something. I’ve read piles of software programming textbooks that I remember nothing about. Every computer language I know I’ve picked up through practice and real-world use.
Be sure to read Matt’s entire post, and keep in mind that being happy and productive in life is pretty difficult if you’re not happy and productive at work, too.