Major Update to my Home Office!

I addition to writing and blogging, I’m a project management consultant working from an office in my home. Many of my clients supply a laptop that they want me to use when accessing their network. Up until recently, I just spread everything around on my U-shaped desk – laptop, monitor, monitor, laptop, monitor – and tried not to knock anything over. Then a few months ago, I started looking at standing desks. I just don’t have room in my home office for another table or desk – if I did, I’d add a woodworking bench. For a while, it looked like I was going to have to ditch what I had in order to be able to start over. Not my idea of a positive solution. So I asked my daughter-in-law for her recommendation.

Home office sitting configuration

Sitting configuration, sans mug

Like me, Nancy works with multiple monitors. She has been using a gadget from Varidesk for several months. It sits on the tabletop and lets you raise and lower your monitors, keyboard, coffee mug, and so on with minimal exertion. Her experience has been positive, although she is considering a product from another company with an electric motor to handle the lifting. Since I need the exercise, I opted for the manual version of the desk. But that really only solved half of the problem.

Home office sitting configuration

Standing configuration, avec mug

I found a dual monitor KVM switch from StarTech, which allows me to toggle between the laptops. Then I ordered a Vivo laptop stand so I could mount the client laptop above my Dell, which lives in a docking station. I now have the two laptops “stacked” vertically next to my standing desk and I can work on one computer while monitoring the other for activity. I can toggle both monitors, keyboard, and trackball with a single button on the right side of the StarTech KVM box, located between and beneath the monitors. The third 1920 by 1200 monitor is sitting in the corner, pending other uses.

The Vivo mount is stable enough to type on when logging in or when I want to respond to an Email or IM without switching to that laptop. It never moves, even when raising and lowering the VariDesk. I considered mounting the pole in an existing hole in the desktop return at the base of the U, but by using the C-clamp on the edge of the return behind the other laptop, I was able to reclaim that space for other uses. And when I need to remove the lower laptop from its docking station, the Vivo arm swings the upper laptop out of the way.

At this point, I’m sold on the health benefits and relative comfort of using a desk that lets me alternate between sitting and standing – when I say I’m an Agile project manager, I really mean it! My next purchase will likely be one of those soft padded mats to stand on and maybe an IV pole to supplement my coffee mug. If I ever decide to mount my Macbook, I’ll use that return desktop hole for another Vivo mount. They have one that supports both a laptop and a monitor, at standing height. And I still have space under the hutch on the left side of the desk for other gadgets.

Final note: I don’t have any relationships with any of these vendors, and I didn’t even add them to the Practicing IT PM Bookstore, although maybe I should. This is just my personal product review.

Commonly Observed National and Religious Holidays 2017


To see the 2018 version of this article, click here.

As I remind everyone each year: if you haven’t already done so, it’s time to update your project schedules with non-working days for 2017. Below is a list of commonly observed national and religious holidays, and the dates they are commonly observed. Naturally, you’ll need to confirm which holidays apply to your project team.

And here are instructions for updating the working calendar in MS Project.

Holiday Weekday Celebrated
New Year’s Day Sunday 1/1/2017
Martin Luther King’s Birthday (US) Monday 1/16/2017
Republic Day (India) Thursday 1/26/2017
Chinese / Vietnamese New Year Saturday 1/28/2017
President’s Day (US) Monday 2/20/2017
Ash Wednesday Wednesday 3/1/2017
Holi (India) Monday 3/13/2017
Beginning of Passover Tuesday 4/11/2017
Good Friday Friday 4/14/2017
Easter Monday (UK) Monday 4/17/2017
May Day (China: Labor Day) Monday 5/1/2017
Early May Bank Holiday (UK) Monday 5/1/2017
Victoria Day (Canada) Monday 5/22/2017
First day of Ramadan Saturday 5/27/2017
Spring Bank Holiday (UK) Monday 5/29/2017
Memorial Day (US) Monday 5/29/2017
Shauvot Wednesday 5/31/2017
Eid al-Fitr Monday 6/26/2017
Canada Day Saturday 7/1/2017
Independence Day (US) Tuesday 7/4/2017
Pioneer Day (Utah, US) Monday 7/24/2017
Independence Day (India) Tuesday 8/15/2017
Summer Bank Holiday (UK) Monday 8/28/2017
Eid al-Adha / Festival of Sacrifice Saturday 9/2/2017
Labor Day (US and Canada) Monday 9/4/2017
Rosh Hashanah Thursday 9/21/2017
Yom Kippur Saturday 9/30/2017
Dussehra (India) Saturday 9/30/2017
National Day (China) Sunday 10/1/2017
Mahatma Gandhi’s Birthday (India) Monday 10/2/2017
Sukkot Thursday 10/5/2017
Columbus Day (US) Monday 10/9/2017
Thanksgiving (Canada) Monday 10/9/2017
Diwali (India) Wednesday 10/18/2017
Veteran’s Day (US) / Remembrance Day (Canada) Saturday 11/11/2017
Thanksgiving Day (US) Thursday 11/23/2017
Day after Thanksgiving (US) Friday 11/24/2017
First day of Chanukah Wednesday 12/13/2017
Christmas Eve Sunday 12/24/2017
Christmas Day Monday 12/25/2017
Boxing Day (UK, Canada) Tuesday 12/26/2017
Kwanzaa Tuesday 12/26/2017
New Year’s Eve Sunday 12/31/2017


New Article on AITS: Defining Status Metrics: RAG, Trends, and Transitions

AITSBloggingAllianceMy latest article for AITS was published today: Defining Status Metrics: RAG, Trends, and Transitions.

You can’t manage what you don’t measure, and you can’t effectively communicate your measurements if there are no well-understood units of measure. I explain the rationale for selecting project-relevant dimensions, in addition to the usual schedule, budget, and quality, in order to make the status report meaningful and actionable. I also include an example of a complete scope description of one dimension, and how each RAG status will be determined. I also include guidelines for transitioning from one color to another and considerations for reporting trends.

As always, thanks for taking the time to read my stuff.