Friday, January 23, 2009

Contracting and Optimizing your Time

Hi All, 

I have recently been working on some projects in my spare time. Some are for work, some are from learning and some are presonal websites. For the websites that I am being paid for I am getting paid at an hourly rate. Let's call this hourly rate $30 (it isn't, but I need a number to put everything into perspective).

This got me thinking. What am I doing in the day apart from work that I would pay $30 an hour for? Yes...I know everyone needs a break now and then but it was very interesting to ask myself questions such as :

1 : Would I pay $30 to watch an episode of "Deal or No Deal" for an hour...No
2 : The time it takes me to put on a wash, put it in the dryer and clean up, would that be worth it? Maybe
3: Would 4 hours of cleaning my place be justified? No, simply get a cleaner (and might I say they would do a much better job) to come and clean my place for me? Yes

Therefor this next set of steps is an insight into managing your time and progress while working as a contractor.

Step 1 : Wasting Time
How many times during the day would you say you look at silly emails, facebook, news or sports results? I think most people would say too much. Facebook alone cost the Australian workplace $5 Billion dollars in lost work last year alone. I don't think your boss would be to happy about that! But that is your Boss, it isn't you, so in essence, it isn't bad for is just bad for your boss (WRONG!).

Once you become a contractor, the hours you work, you get paid for! That is the bottom line. So to think that taking your "lunch time" to go look at some silly pictures etc could probably cost you $60 doesn't add up does it?

The number one rule for optimising your time, is to stop wasting it. 

However I don't want to be a party pooper. Let's face it, it is healthy to want to know what is going on in the world. It is healthy to know what your friends are doing and it is healthy to want to look up houses that you want to buy....after all the more you look, the more chance of getting that perfect home!

Solution : 
The solution to this problem is not to stop looking at the things  you want on the internet. It is managing your time so that you put it into perspective with the need and the money that is wasted on you fullfilling this need. To help with this here are some tips :

 - Get an RSS Reader embedded into you mail, desktop etc. Spend some time getting all your favourite websites and subscribe to their RSS Feed. In this way, you have one central place that you can access your entertainment, once place to store it so you can come back to it when you want, and there is no need to keep revisiting these sites to see if a story has been updated etc. (After all one of the biggest problems is getting back into the work after you have decided to "Slack Off".
 - Write down notes. Use sites like RememberTheMilk or or Google Calendar to remind yourself of things that need to be done. This way, you have it in writting and you can then clear that thought out of your head.
- Productivity Tracker. Use a tool like this that allows you to see how much time you are really wasting. Set alerts to tell you when you are going overboard on "Surfing the net".
 - Checking Emails. This can work multiple ways, but basically I have found that designating 15 minutes every 2 hours to read and respond to emails gives a great ballance of a "break" and staying focused.

Watch out for Step 2 tomorrow.

Hope this helps, 

 - Tim

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