Simple Productivity Task Of The Day: Sharpen Your Pencil

by Randy Murray on March 3, 2011

Today’s tip is a simple focus-shifting exercise. When you find yourself staring at your screen, looking blankly at the pile of work in front of you, or simply spinning your wheels, get up from your desk and find a pencil to sharpen.

For some people, the wooden pencil is a thing of the ancient past, but it’s still a useful tool to me. I keep a red Ticonderoga Erasable (Carmine Red 425T) in my penholder on my desk. It’s very useful for quick markup and editing. And when I need a break, it’s satisfying to stand up and sharpen the pencil over my trashcan, honing it to a fine point.

I use a simple, metal unit, a little, open wedge sharpener. It’s practically foolproof, cheap, and small enough to include in my smallest “go bag”. But the reason I really like it is that it is just right for the task. A few twists of the pencil, a quick puff to blow off the shavings and a careful examination of the point are often just enough for me to take a breath, change my focus, and get back to work.

It’s a simple, meditative moment. Turn, shave, sharpen — not just the pencil, but also your mind, your focus. Examine the result. Return to your task refreshed.

Try it yourself. You may have to buy a pencil for the single purpose of allowing you to sharpen it periodically, but even that may be worth the pennies of expense.

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

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