The holy grail of full-time work from our home has several challenges.  One of the most impactful snares is a blurring of the lines between work and the rest of our life.  Therefore, we need to consider how some work boundaries can be set and enforced.  Slave labor is never a goal, and we need to be aware of whether we are being taken for granted.

Quality Or Quantity

There is always a trade-off in accomplishing a goal.  We can do it fast, cheap, or of quality.  You get two of the three.  Thus, fast and cheap products will lack quality.  High quality requires either more resources (time, money, etc.) or takes longer to complete.  Our boss or manager is making that decision for us, whether they recognize it or not.  We are part of that decision whether we recognize it or not.

When we start our careers, there are limits to those three pillars.  We are not going to be fast, and quality is more costly than later in our experience.  Therefore, it is not uncommon for people to start their careers with many long hours poured into the job.  There is nothing wrong with that.  We are saying that investing time helps us get to the value and quality expected of our work.  As we gain experience, our time should be reduced as our pay and quality are more on par with our typical work.

Lack of Work Boundaries Can Lead To Free Labor

One of the benefits of hourly work is you get paid for each hour.  There are modifiers like overtime or holiday pay.  Nevertheless, we are trading time for money.  That means we know what our worth is.  On the other hand, a salary can gloss over hourly worth and depreciate our value.  When you are on salary and work eighty hours a week, there is no difference in your compensation when you work for only forty hours.  That equates to essentially working for free when you exceed the expected workload.

Likewise, when you got a flat rate for overtime work, there is less quality returned per hour and a greater cost to you.  For example, a project requires eighty hours of work.  It is easier to do that over a period of two or more weeks than one.  You will also be more likely to produce a quality result when those hours span a longer time.  When we blur work boundaries, the time spent per week can be hidden and cause someone to make ill-informed decisions.

Nine Months For a Baby

There is a bit of wisdom that says a baby takes nine months to be born no matter how many helpers you provide the mother.  This example is relative to many projects and activities.  We can not simply pour on effort or other resources and see a corresponding reduction of time to completion.  We need to recognize when we can put more effort into a project with impact while distinguishing the times that an impact is not possible.  It is part of our job or role to provide that wisdom.  We have experience and wisdom to lean on that helps us properly plan out a path to success.  That means it is our duty to push back when expectations are unrealistic and inform decision-makers when making a choice that will reduce product quality.

Making Effective Use of Your Time

Rob Broadhead

Rob is a founder of, and frequent contributor to, Develpreneur. This includes the Building Better Developers podcast. He is also a longtime student of technology as a developer, designer, and manager of software solutions. Rob is a founder and principle of RB Consulting and has managed to author a book about his family experiences. In his free time, he stays busy raising five children (although a few have grown into adults). When he has a chance to breathe, he is on the ice playing hockey to relax.

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