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How to Stop Watching the Clock

How to Stop Watching the Clock

    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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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    Last Updated on March 30, 2020

    How to Mind Map to Visualize Your Thoughts (With Mind Map Examples)

    How to Mind Map to Visualize Your Thoughts (With Mind Map Examples)

    Traditionally, when you have a lot of ideas in your mind, you would create a text document, or take a sheet of paper and start writing in a linear fashion like this:

    • Intro to Visual Facilitation
      • Problem, Consequences, Solution, Benefits, Examples, Call to action
    • Structure
      • Why, What, How to, What If
    • Do It Myself?
      • Audio, Images, time-consuming, less expensive
    • Specialize Offering?
      • Built to Sell (Standard Product Offering), Options (Solving problems, Online calls, Dev projects)

    This type of document quickly becomes overwhelming. It obviously lacks in clarity. It also makes it hard for you to get a full picture at a glance and see what is missing.

    You always have too much information to look at, and most often you only get a partial view of the information. It’s hard to zoom out, figuratively, and to see the whole hierarchy and how everything is connected.

    To see a fuller picture, create a mind map.

    What Is a Mind Map?

    A mind map is a simple hierarchical radial diagram. In other words, you organize your thoughts around a central idea. This technique is especially useful whenever you need to “dump your brain”, or develop an idea, a project (for example, a new product or service), a problem, a solution, etc. By capturing what you have in your head, you make space for other thoughts.

    In this article, we are focusing on the basics: mind mapping using pen and paper.

    The objective of a mind map is to clearly visualize all your thoughts and ideas before your eyes. Don’t complicate a mind map with too many colors or distractions. Use different colors only when they serve a purpose. Always keep a mind map simple and easy to follow.

      Image Credit: English Central

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      By following the three next steps below, you will be able to create such mind maps easily and quickly.

      3 Simple Steps to Create a Mind Map

      The three steps are:

      1. Set a central topic
      2. Add branches of related ideas
      3. Add sub-branches for more relevant ideas

      Let’s take a look at an example Verbal To Visual illustrates on the benefits of mind mapping.[1]

      Step 1 : Set a Central Topic

      Take a blank sheet of paper, write down the topic you’ve been thinking about: a problem, a decision to make, an idea to develop, or a project to clarify.

      Word it in a clear and concise manner.

        What is the first idea that comes to mind when you think of the subject for your mind map? Draw a line (straight or curved) from the central topic, and write down that idea.

          Step 3 : Add Sub-Branches for More Relevant Ideas

          Then, what does that idea make you think of? What is related to it? List it out next to it in the same way, using your pen.

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            You can always add more to it later, but that’s good for now.

            In our example, we could detail the sub-branch “Benefits” by listing those benefits in sub-branches of the branch “Benefits”. Unfortunately, we already reached the side of the sheet, so we’re out of space to do so. You could always draw a line to a white space on the page and list them there, but it’s awkward.

            Since we created this mind map on a regular letter-format sheet of paper, the quantity of information that fits in there is very limited. That is one of the main reasons why I recommend that you use software rather than pen and paper for most of the mind mapping that you do.

            Repeat Step 2 and Step 3

            Repeat steps 2 and 3 as many times as you need to flush out all of your ideas around the topic that you chose.

              I added first-level (main) branches around the central topic mostly in a clockwise fashion, from top-right to top-left. That is how, by convention, a mind map is read.

              In the next section, we are covering the three strategies to building your maps.  

              Mind Map Examples to Illustrate Mind Mapping

              You can go about creating a mind map in various ways:

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              • Branch by Branch: Adding whole branches (with all of their sub-branches), one by one.
              • Level by Level: Adding elements to the map, one level at a time. That means that firstly, you add elements around the central topic (main branches). Then, you add sub-branches to those main branches. And so on.
              • Free-Flow: Adding elements to your mind map as they come to you, in no particular order.

              Branch by Branch

              Start with the central topic, add a first branch. Focus on that branch and detail it as much as you can by adding all the sub-branches that you can think of.

                Then develop ideas branch by branch.

                  A branch after another, and the mind map is complete.

                    Level by Level

                    In this “Level by Level” strategy, you first add all the elements that you can think of around the central topic, one level deep only. So here you add elements on level 1:

                      Then, go over each branch and add the immediate sub-branches (one level only). This is level 2:

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                        Idem for the next level. This is level 3. You can have as many levels as you want in a mind map. In our example, we only have 3 levels. Now the map is complete:

                          Free-Flow

                          Basically, a free flow strategy of mind mapping is to add main branches and sub-topics freely. No rules to restrict how ideas should flow in the mind map. The only thing to pay attention to is that you need to be careful about the level of the ideas you’re adding to the mind map — is it a main topic, or is it a subtopic?

                            I recommend using a combination of the “Branch by Branch” and the “Free-Flow” strategies.

                            What I normally do is I add one branch at a time, and later on review the mind map and add elements in various places to finish it. I also sometimes build level 1 (the main branches) first, then use a “Branch by Branch” approach, and later finish the map in a “Free-Flow” manner.

                            Try each strategy and combinations of strategies, and see what works best for you.

                            The Bottom Line

                            When you’re feeling stuck or when you’re just starting to think about a particular idea or project, take out a paper and start to brain dump your ideas and create a mind map. Mind mapping has the magic to clear your head and have your thoughts organized.

                            If you can’t always have access to a paper and pen, don’t worry! Creating a mind map with software is very effective and you get none of the drawbacks of pen and paper. You can also apply the above steps and strategies just the same when using a mind mapping tool on the phone and computer.

                            More Tools to Help You Organize Thoughts

                            Featured photo credit: Alvaro Reyes via unsplash.com

                            Reference

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