We have all been there.

You have nothing of consequence to do at work today, and you glance at your computer.  It’s 9:08AM. You’re already bored, and you wonder painfully how you are going to make it through the next eight hours without jabbing a pen in your eyes. Tick tock.

Your check your e-mail, then your Facebook account. You return a phone call and look at some paperwork on your desk. You steal another look at the time. 9:21. Tick tock.

You go to the kitchen and fill up your water bottle. Sipping slowly, you stop by the printer to see if you forgot to pick up anything the day before. You return to your desk and see the open word document on your desktop. It’s your Q2 strategic plan, and you’re dreading finishing it. The clock now says 9:36. Only 7 hours and 24 minutes until you can put on your jacket and high-tail out of there. Tick tock, tick tock.

Stop the madness

Watching the clock is a terrible way to spend your life. We all do it to some extent – after all, not every work-related task makes us jump for joy (that’s why it’s called work, not fun). But putting yourself in a situation where you are waiting for every minute to pass is a surefire way to drive yourself crazy and/or give yourself stress-induced hypertension.

A former colleague told me that AOL prevented clock-watching by forcing employees to stop wearing watches and to hide the time display on their computers and devices. I don’t think this is the answer. The responsibility to stop clock-watching is yours alone, so here are some tips to banish this infuriating habit from your work day.

Think big

Remember why you took this job in the first place? What were you trying to accomplish with your career, and why were you excited to work for this particular organization? Jot down your thoughts and consider how you can fulfill some of these initial objectives within the context of the daily grind.

Manufacture some enthusiasm

Roll your eyes if you will, but it works. If you smile and act like you’re enjoying what you’re doing, sometimes your mind will forget about the reality and the day will pass more quickly.

Launch a committee

For a few years, groupwork was all the rage at American business schools, and you can bet those guys weren’t bored in class. Pull together a task force to accomplish a critical business objective and schedule an interactive brainstorming series that will take you away from your desk a few times a week.

Make productivity a game

Tell yourself that you can watch the clock or surf the net as much as you want, as long as you write a 500 word brief or make 5 sales calls before you do. By giving yourself a tight deadline to accomplish a task, you insist on a longer period of concentration. You can take this up a notch by scheduling several in-depth tasks for the same day since nothing beats clock-watching like being incredibly busy.

Avoid the dead zone

We’ve talked before about how everyone has a time during the day when energy naturally flags. When this period comes around for you, arrange to do something away from your desk to prevent bleary-eyed clock staring. Hit the gym, have a catch-up lunch in the cafeteria, or run an errand.

Now let’s be real here. Even while employing these strategies, you will still look at the clock from time to time. However, if you do everything you can to stay engaged, you might forget it’s even there.

(Photo credit: Looks like reversed infinity time spiral via Shutterstock)

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