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How to know what’s going on behind your employee’s doors

November 7, 2016


For years I have kept a mess of Post It notes (some now need the additional adhesive power of Scotch tape), as well as odd slips of paper right by my office door, to let my office mates know that when I close my door, I’m not snoozing, chatting idly on the phone, Christmas shopping, or ha-ha-ing at YouTube videos.

They say the online shopping season has already begun.

While I know I am extremely fortunate to have had a private office for most of the 41 years I have worked in various capacities for MennoMedia (and through all of its incarnations and names) I do close my door for a number of reasons, mainly the numerous phone and Skype meetings we have since many of my co-workers work at other locations and from their homes. (I would think the distractions at home are even more compelling –fold that laundry, stick that meal in the oven, get the mail.) But so are the temptations to knock off one more job on the to-do list in the evening after the kids have gone to bed.


But sometimes I just need to focus. My ongoing temptation is that my office is just steps away from our office kitchen filled with tempting refreshments, so there’s that.


Closing my door, and telling myself I will open it again when I have finished a draft, a project, or the next step in a major to-do on my list, is a big help. I scheme that I will reward myself with a trip to get fresh coffee, or a snack, or a drink of water, or a bathroom break when I finish the next task.

Plus, it’s funny how even though I have hearing issues, if I am trying to concentrate and there is laughter or conversation going on down the hall, I can hear amazingly well!!


My ancient signs (and honestly, I’m amazed at how long they have held up and the adhesive on the tape still clings after many many posts!), look pretty bad.


I realized this when I saw a new staff member’s very neat and professional looking “door-shut-explanation” signs. This is snazzy and I’m sure it only took 2 minutes to make. Very nice! Actually I could use one of those door check list marker boards, to fit the specific occasion and my mood.


What helps you focus?

I would love to hear your best tricks and motivation tools to get the next job done!

Comment here …






From → Faith, Writing Life

  1. When I was teaching, the college required my class schedule (including office hours) to be posted outside my office door. If I was not in my office during the posted hours, I had 5-6 index cards to post my whereabouts: at a meeting / off campus / in the lunchroom / etc. One colleague (later “dismissed”) kept his office door wide open with the light on, a file cabinet drawer pulled out, and an empty seat. Probably the FBI couldn’t have found him then – hence the dismissal.

    To “get the job done” – I had to close my door; otherwise, students and colleagues would wander in to visit. I enjoyed it of course, but didn’t get any work done.

    This morning I wrote a draft of my Thanksgiving blog post: I lit a cinnamon candle and warmed my chair seat for 2+ hours. It felt heavenly to have a good chunk of time to concentrate, something in short supply these last few months during the move. I wonder if you are contemplating retirement . . .

    • I love hearing about the signs you had on your door on campus. Yes, we certainly wanted to know where we could find our professors in the days before email etc.!

      And I can imagine your chair time this morning felt heavenly; when I’m working on hobby writing versus my day job writing–I don’t have as much trouble focusing, I guess! Not planning on retiring quite yet–someone’s gotta pay the health insurance. 🙂 Thanks for connecting here though, as usual.

  2. Christmas gift idea, eh? Nice little musing on minutiae!

    • After I posted it I thought, who will care about my minutiae? But yay, sometimes when a huge election is going on, minutiae is nice. Enjoyed reading Gene Weingarten’s musings last night (from Sunday’s WP Magazine) saying that 48 hours before an election, the press all go to calm bland topics designed not to upset anyone at the last minute.

      Are you saying you will fill my Christmas stocking with post it notes??

  3. When I need to work on something requiring concentration, I take a short walk in the woods behind my house and get focused (usually with coffee brewing in the house). Then I come back inside and get a cup of coffee and work. I work at home but have many distractions.

    • A walk in the woods sounds great to clear the cobwebs and bring concentration. Looking forward to fresh coffee doesn’t hurt either. I do think the distractions at home are greater than at a regular office. Thanks for commenting!

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