Put Down the Duckie

Are you as big a fan of classic Sesame Street as I am? So much wisdom. One of my favorites is from a holiday special that was done many years ago. The segment is called, “Put Down the Duckie”.

Click the photo to play the video

In this sketch, Ernie learns the importance of focusing on the task at hand – in this case, learning to play the saxophone.

This song jumped to mind recently while talking with a friend about my own lack of focus on any given task. As I have been analyzing my increasing sense of never getting anything done, I realized just how many distractions have crept into my life.

When I was a software engineer, banging out code, I would sit myself down at the computer, heads down, for hours at a time. If there were too many distractions around me, either from noise in the hallway or the noise in my own head, I would put on headphones with specific types of music to allow me to regain that intense focus on the job at hand.

It is a sign of my age that I remember when checking email required a deliberate action. I remember the first time I encountered a computer workstation that had email running constantly. Even then I realized the folly of having a window pop up to announce you had new mail. My first thought was, “I don’t care. I’ll get to that later. Stop interrupting me. How do you turn that off?”

Now, we all have cell phones, tablets, and myriad devices that bleep, bonk, and vibrate their way into our days with their constant interruptions.

Enough! Do yourself a favor. Turn off every alert on your mobile device that is not absolutely mission critical. Close that Facebook browser window. Turn off the tweets. Do it now.

It’s amazing how much productivity and serenity can be gained by blocking out chunks of time to devote to specific tasks. While you’re at it, block out a specific time to check your email and other means of communication. When the time is up, get on to the next task.

Put down the duckie / cell phone.