Out of office

Most employers want you to be in "in the office." They want you sitting at your desk, looking at your screen, tapping on your keyboard. You have to show up to meetings. People expect you to answer your email.

But all that changes when you go to a conference.

When you go to a conference, you're suddenly "Out of office." You book the time away on your company's calendar. And once you've flown to your destination, nobody bugs you. They know you're not available for meetings. They know you won't be at your desk. When they email you, they get a reply that says "Out of office."

"Out of office" is a magic status that protects your attention. 

In the context of a conference, it protects you from distraction so you can focus on the speakers, networking, and workshops.

What if you did this for your personal project?

So many of us have dreams that we never act on. It might be building a business or releasing a creative project.

Often, we don't make progress because we're stuck in the regular rut of commuting, working all day, and coming home exhausted. This is normal! You're spending all you good creative energy during the day, and have nothing left after.

But, what if we decided to go "out of office?"

I was recently reminded of this by Derek Sivers. In his post, Hooky, he says:

When I think back about the times in my life where I got the most done, created the most, or had a major breakthrough in some aspect of my life, it was often while I was supposed to be doing something else.For example, I'd sign up for a three-day conference, show up to registration, decide I don't want to go, then sit in my hotel room, uninterrupted, and get some great work done for three days.

What would happen if you took time away from your daily grind and focused on your personal project?

If you're an employee, you could use some of your vacation time, not for vacation, but to work on something you're passionate about.

Think about how much progress you'd make if you were free from your routine; free from work and other distractions.

It's even better if you can get out of town. No one disturbs you when you're travelling. Clients, co-workers, and family members know you're "out of office;" giving you the mental space you need to really focus.

I've done this a few times in my life, and it's been incredibly empowering. I'd book myself an Airbnb for a few days, and focus on achieving a specific goal. It felt so good to ship something after months of standing still. 

And, as Derek Sivers reminds us here, it's a good practice to remind yourself:

 "You're the boss of your life."

Justin Jackson

This article was originally published on November 23, 2013. It's been updated since then.

Published on October 11th, 2019
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