Use Technology to Focus Your Creative Energy

“Do you have to be somewhere?” he asked from behind his coffee, “Or do you just not want to talk to me?”
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I came to with a start. “No! I’m good.”
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“You’re clocking every few minutes. Do you have somewhere to go?”  His tone was gentle but confronting. I’d given my new friend the wrong impression without even realizing.  We’d agreed to meet over coffee and already he was getting mixed signals. I was to blame.
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I assured Robin that I had plenty of time and inwardly resolved not to clock any more. Still I caught myself.  So I said “I don’t have to leave until 20-after.  It’s an important appointment, but right now I want to get to know you.” and I asked another question, inviting him to share.

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That conversation embarrassed me.  I do well with people and have as long as I can remember. I also pride myself in being on time for things. I cringe whenever I look up and realize that while the article I’m writing is looking good, I’m already 10 minutes late for an appointment. So I bust-it to be on time. That day two values competed with each other.  I hated what happened, and I resolved to not let THAT happen again.  I would tell people right away if I had something coming next so they knew ahead of time, and sometimes they’d even point out the time to me.  It worked much better.
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Then the Palm Pilot PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) entered the market. Remember those?  I discovered that I could set little chirp alarms, much less intrusive than the beep-beep-beep of digital watch alarms, that could help me stay on task and on time.
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I experimented. Tweaked.  Found the formula that works best for me, and locked it in.  Today I use an Android smart phone that sends me a little vibrating signal from my pocket.  “Time to stop what you’re doing now, and ____.”  I may need to leave to be to an appointment, switch tasks, call someone, it varies.
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At the beginning of each week I take ten minutes to look ahead and find those places where I need to change to a different scheduled task, leave for an appointment, do a chore, make a call, etc.   If It’s an appointment I’m headed for, I set the alarm for travel-time pus 10 before the appointment so I have plenty of time.  One never knows when a slow-moving train or an unexpected detour is going to add five minutes to the trip, so I factor it in ahead of time.
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And then –  this is the part I love –  I throw myself into the task at hand, or the conversation I’m enjoying, without a care.  My rectangular partner notifies me precisely when I asked it to, that it’s time to transition.  I love the results.
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Two things to remember if you decide to use this technique.
1)  Pick the least intrusive signal available to get your attention.  I like a vibration, two sets of two short dashes.
2)  Stick to the same notifier for similar tasks so your mind tunes in to that signal and you hear or feel it even when no one else does.
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Use this tip with confidence.  It’ll help you focus your energy on what you’re doing right now without those constant “don’t be late” impulses, and no one will ask you, like they did me, “Do you have to be somewhere? Or do you just not want to talk to me?”
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Enjoy –

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