Simple Productivity Task Of The Day: Keep It In Your Pants

by Randy Murray on September 7, 2010

When I was a young man courting the girls, I was given this specific advice, although I’m pretty sure it wasn’t to help improve my productivity.   “Keep it in your pants, son.”

Today I carry an iPhone, and for years before that I carried a Palm (my first was an honest to goodness “Palm Pilot” from US Robotics). All of these devices are very useful and in the truest sense of the word, “handy.”

Too much so. Although it is often very useful to have information at your fingertips, it is also extremely tempting. Every time you are not actively engaged in a task it’s so easy to pull out your device, check your email, Twitter, the news, and all of the other little indicators and apps that are competing for your attention. I often find myself doing it without thinking.

But your attention is a limited and precious resource. Those brief moments in-between active work and focus on a project are there to serve a purpose. Use these moments to help you stop and think about what you’ve been doing and what you might do next. If you fill every moment constantly fiddling with your iThingy you’re robbing yourself of the momentum and natural ebb and flow that will keep you productive.

So today’s task is to NOT do something. Try it. When you’re momentarily bored and reach for your phone – don’t. Relax. Take a deep, cleansing breath and ask yourself, “What was I just thinking?”  See how long you can go without pulling it out of your trousers or bag.

We’re still talking about Smartphones and electronic devices, aren’t we?

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The Simple Productivity Task Of The Day: Keep It In Your Pants by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jonathan Elliot September 7, 2010 at 8:05 am

Hahaha, classic example of a great title that pulled me in, Randy.

And very good advice too. :)

Jonathan from Spritzophrenia


2 Randy Murray September 7, 2010 at 8:10 am

Thanks, Jonathan.

I think the second part of the advice I was given was “Or we’ll weld your zipper shut.” Got my attention, either way.


3 Robert September 7, 2010 at 8:09 am

Very good advice indeed! As the world around you spins faster, those small breaks become more and more important, enabling you to keep going instead of breaking down. All machines need to be taken care of, so does our minds. A break form everything is, in my opinion, essential to keep us sharp, alert and fresh. Gives good perspective on things.

I know I’m often tempted to check my e-mail, twitter and RSS while out and about. Sometimes it’s hard to fight the urge, but on a nice, sunny day just looking around, absorbing the natural sounds around you, for me at least it’s easier. Listen to the birds, the wind blowing in the trees, children playing in the park. Often times a lot better and more calming than music or listening to a podcast.


4 Randy Murray September 7, 2010 at 8:13 am

What made me think of this “advice” from long ago is standing out in my backyard, waiting for the dog, and finding myself, once again, reaching for my iPhone. I’m missing too much of the beauty and interest around me by unnecessarily fiddling with the damn thing.

Don’t get me wrong - my iPhone is very important and useful. I just don’t need to check it every few minutes. I find that I’m more relaxed and have more time for ideas and interaction if I just leave it, so to speak, in my pants.

Thanks for commenting, Robert!


5 ann janzen September 7, 2010 at 9:59 am

Keeping on the dresser might also be a good idea (when you’re at home). Small steps will help with the addiction that we all have.


6 Randy Murray September 7, 2010 at 10:12 am

I wish I could, but I have a daughter, now 22 and in grad school and another that’s almost 18. It’s probably the overprotective parent, but I feel like I need to be “reachable” at all times. So I’ve got it in my pocket at all times, but I’m trying to train myself to leave it there!


7 Harry Mitchell September 8, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Well, in the *courting* stage, that advice is absolutely essential.


8 Randy Murray September 8, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Well it’s a long, long way, from May to September.


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