Time Management: Working in the Right Environment for the Right Activity—The Document Development Zone

Most of us perform our daily tasks at our desk near the computer. Often this is not the best place to do certain activities or priority tasks that take more concentration and less distraction. Activities such as strategic thinking, reading, writing and development often require a different environment to assist in changing the mindset to help perform those tasks more quickly and efficiently. An advantage of technology tools, telework and remote work environments is that workers can now utilize the right environment for the right activity.

Here is one type of zone environment each worker should have ;

Document Development zone

In our knowledge-based economy most workers have reports, budgets and written deliverables that are required for the job. These written deliverables require concentrated thinking, as do reading and decision making, but they also require workers to be near their computers. Often workers get started on these written deliverables and become waylaid from the task because e-mail and communication activities are immediately reactive.

A recent Vanderbilt University study found that a person who writes a report while checking e-mail will take one-and-half times longer than if the tasks were done sequentially. To be more efficient in written tasks consider taking the computer to another location such as a coffee shop, quiet room, conference room or home. If that isn’t an option then log out of e-mail and database programs and set the phone to voicemail to limit the immediate reactive temptation. Creating this development zone will maximize time and improve quality of work.

Best Practices for Conducting Online and Virtual Meetings

Online meetings can be a valuable time saver and are becoming the standard way many people work in a telework or remote work environment. Since body language and non-visual cues are sometimes not available it is important to be mindful of communicating effectively using online meeting tools such as WebEx or Go to Meeting. To conduct quality and effective meetings means being more familiar with online meeting tools and protocol. Here are some tips;

Be Prepared

Make sure to be prepared before an online meeting. Video conferencing will tend to magnify any lack of preparation. Make sure to have all documentation easily accessible and within reach. In real life, leaning over to look at a paper portfolio may not be a big deal, but if a person disappears from the screen to get something, it can make the person look disorganized.

Connect 5-10 minutes early to online meetings. If there are any technical issues, make sure to know about them ahead of time. This is particularly true if a person is using a web conferencing system that they are not familiar with.

Document Sharing

Use the document sharing tool in the online meeting tool to review, edit and view documents. Learn about the annotation tools within tool that can highlight, mark and review documents for easy visual recording of changes.


When conducting online meetings, use the chat feature to engage the audience. Ask questions and allow participants to chat in their answers then, review and share responses. Use the chat function to ask and answer questions or make comments during the meeting with one, some, or all of the participants.

Start and End on Time

Meetings that start late or run over can create unnecessary stress for everyone in attendance. Respect attendee’s time by adhering to the online meeting schedule. Most web conferencing applications have automated reminders that will notify attendees via e-mail when the online meeting has started.