Turn Off

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So today, as I walked into work, I had a rather large list of things to do. I think the word looming would be appropriate. At this point, I need to take a bit of segue into earlier this week. I had read an article about productivity (yes, again) and ran across a recommendation to turn things off. This article was written by Amber on her personal blog she keeps for just thinking and keeping us thinking. Read it. I’ll wait.

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Back to today. So I walk into the office and I’m working through twelve documents that have to be QA’d. Top priority stuff. At this moment, a friend IMs me. We have a short conversation. After that, I see a couple of email notifications appear on the screen. I open a youtube page to listen to a song I like, but don’t have on my iPod, I’m messaging someone to find out if some other work got done that I don’t even have the bandwidth to focus on right now…

What the hell am I doing to myself? I HAVE WORK TO DO.

I get my colleague’s attention and ask her to deflect any requests I get today that take longer than a moment to complete. I turn off my email and forgive myself for not responding to whatever emails I get and not answering questions. I turn off my iPhone and forgive myself for not responding to whatever pops up on that. I watch three youtube videos and call a moratorium. I politely excuse myself from the conversation on the instant messenger, then turn it off. 

I kept my headphones on and I took on one minor request that took a whole twenty minutes maybe. To give you perspective, that side task took less time that it’s taking to write this.

What I want to comment here is that, more than any productivity trick and hack you’ll ever come up with, there’s no substitute for just turning things off and leaving them that way.

Who would have thought?

Mind you, I’ve taken a quick break to keep the words I’m proofing from bleeding together. A text to a friend here or my younger brother there, but no major sidetracking. It’s made a big difference today and it probably will later. This is one of a few things I plan on exploring in the next month or so.

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