Yesterday proved highly productive. My output surprised me for a couple of reasons, mostly because a cold virus has taken possession of my nasopharynx. Tears and snot flowed all day long, leaving my cheeks and nostrils raw. Yet I got a lot of work done.
Another factor made the day inauspicious for work. Someone burned something in a microwave in the break area near my office. The halls reeked all day, and the smoke (when it penetrated the mucus) burned in my nose. I thought about leaving early; instead I shut my door.
Now, I do not entertain a lot of spontaneous visitors to my office. A colleague may discuss our daily trek to the cafeteria for lunch, or my lab personnel may drop by to chat about their progress. Overall, very few interruptions break into my time. I cannot believe the shut door was keeping inefficiency out.
Was it keeping efficiency in?
Wednesday mornings begin with a conference call. Today I put out my sign, “Conference Call. Please Do Not Disturb,” and shut the door. The difference this week? I left the door shut after the call finished. Just to test my hypothesis. And to deal with the burning odor that still permeates the hallway (what the hell did they have in that microwave?).
I do not feel quite as accomplished as I did yesterday. The tasks yesterday were all ready to be completed. Those today await the input of others; their completion is out of my control. I have managed to slog away a lot of tasks, though. I feel really good about today’s accomplishments. So what is it about that door?
The shut door signals a new mental status. I am isolating myself from outside distractions, minimal as they are, and I plan to get stuff done. When I look up from the computer, I do not see a conduit to escape; I see a barrier that seems to help keep me at my desk.
I wonder what other subliminal messages we send ourselves through seemingly trivial actions? I will continue testing my hypothesis and looking for other examples. After all, I am a scientist.
Photo courtesy of PhotoXpress.