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Are you Ready?

If you were to ask me for the true marks of a really productive person (which I’m not, incidentally, so take this with a grain of salt), I wouldn’t say anything about their work area, notebook collection, or pocket contents. I wouldn’t even necessarily cite their ability to consistently meet deadlines (because that just means they may not have very many commitments). You know what I’d say?

They’re ready. Like, for just about anything.

No, I’m not referring to the type of superhero cool that some are able to maintain during times of extreme stress or duress (think Jack Bauer). I’m talking about the guy who, when you walk up to his desk unannounced, turns away from his computer, busts out a clean sheet of paper and a pen and gives you his full attention. Immediately.

This is one of those skills that takes a hell of a long time to cultivate, and can really only be mastered by those who have two things:

  • A hell of a lot of responsibility
  • A hell of a lot of time to practice changing their immediate focus

For the guy whose job it is to make sure that the equipment at the oil refinery doesn’t explode, this may not be something he gets to spend any time working on (or maybe it is, hell if I know). When your job requires you to be ready to switch to firefighter mode at a moments notice, you’ll be faced with a “sink or swim” type of situation. After an innumerable amount of “sinks”, one day you’ll finally start to clumsily swim. After a whole mess of that, then (I imagine) you’ll be “there”.

Just to reiterate, I don’t see myself as possessing this trait. I can change focus easily enough, but the cost of doing so is incredibly apparent when I try to return to the original, pre-interruption task. So I’m giving advice on a topic that I, frankly, have no business giving advice on. But that’s how I imagine this type of skill being manifest.

So, are you ready?

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