Monday, February 11, 2008

Laptop-free Mondays

You would think, that after a dozen or so years of lugging a laptop with me everywhere that I go, that I would remember the darn thing in the morning. Well, not today. Herein will be one of the problems that accompany transitioning to my upcoming "workplace mobility".

In years past, I would typically bring my laptop with me as a security measure (i.e. I didn't want to worry about having it stolen off my desk) or "just in case" (something came up where I needed to get to an internal system). Most of the time, it would never leave my computer bag. In general, if I needed to do some work, I would usually be able to get to email from my home computer using a VPN connection. Well, the new employer doesn't work that way -- you pretty much need to be connected to the network using only your work-issued computer. So when I work from home, I have to plug the thing in using my docking station and my KVM (keyboard, video, mouse) switch. So the laptop sits under my monitor and tends to be out of sight...

Anyway, that's where it was when I walked into work this morning.

This is the second time in six months that I have found myself away from home and reached into an empty backpack. The first time, I was at O'Hare Airport and had a very sickening feeling when I reached back and found the side zipper wide open as I walked from my car to the terminal. (First thought, "Did it fall out?!!!" Second thought, "Oh @%#&%#@!! It's on my desk!") That one had a happy ending in that my family literally rode to the rescue (and I am always at the airport very early). That little mistake cost me a Nintendo Wii and months of merciless ribbing from the family.

So this morning, after the expletive, it quickly dawned on me that I had left the darn thing sitting happily at home in its docking station. Today was a fairly light day at work, meeting-wise, but I needed to snail mail some stuff to co-workers and deal with some stuff that had piled up on my desk. We're having IT leadership meetings the rest of the week and I won't be at my desk very much.

So what to do? Fortunately, I have my handy Motorola Q9h. Email was merrily arriving in that, so I wasn't completely cut off from the world. If something blew up, I could at least get hold of people and see what was going on.

I also had a backpack full of stuff (which is why I didn't notice any lightness from not having the laptop in there). I've been trying to get through my backlog of reading and I had picked up a bunch of stuff at a seminar on Friday. There were also quite a number of things to file.

So I decided to tackle those tasks. It was very disconcerting sitting there with with a dead computer screen behind me. My Q would buzz every now and then and I retained a sense of connectedness, but I avoided spending time responding to emails. I looked, decided if it needed an immediate answer, and generally went back to my desk. Things got filed and things got read. My morning meeting came round and I spent a few minutes touching base in person and by phone with some folks. It was actually lunch time before I knew it.

After lunch, I tidied up a bit more and decided that there were a few emails that I needed to respond to as well as some that needed to be sent. But the morning was remarkably productive, all things considered. I left the office in the early afternoon and dealt with email once I got to the home office.

I'm thinking maybe this should be my normal approach to Monday morning... One of the things that I tend not to do very much is really sit down and be planful about my week. I could have done that this morning for this week, absent the all day meetings that will kill the balance of the week. I tend to walk in and boot my laptop before my coat is off. I'm reading email and responding before my "Grabber" breakfast sandwich has cooled off. I guess sometimes, you simply need to turn off the connectedness for a while and think. New lesson learned for the day...

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