Stop, drop and cone?

Starbucker over at Ramblings from a Glass Half Full (who always makes me think!) just posted an "I have too many things rattling around in my head" lament that I have no doubt most people can relate to.  I know, as an agency owner and active community volunteer (not to mention dad et al) there are some days when I literally run from meeting to meeting, trying to squeeze in phone calls in between meetings.  And then I wonder…when will I get all the work done that these meetings generated?  Those are frustrating days.  But, to be fair, I do it to myself. 

Sometimes I have to give myself a reprieve.  So I cone myself.Cone1_1

Coning is something we invented at McLellan Marketing Group because all of us need some "quiet time" now and then.  Every employee at MMG has a traffic cone in their office.  When that cone is placed in their doorway, it means, "unless the building is on fire, do not disturb me."

I coned myself for about 90 minutes yesterday.  The week had been frantic and I was riding very close to several deadlines.  I got more done in those 90 minutes than I had all week.  And best of all….I felt great.  I felt calm, I felt successful.  I felt like I was back in control.  Here are some of my secrets to successful coning.

  • Have a commonly understood signal (like the cone) that everyone in your office will honor.
  • Set the example by NEVER interrupting a coned person.
  • Turn your cell phone, regular phone et al ringers off.
  • Do not check e-mail, blog feeds or any other distraction during your coned time.
  • Do not do it for more than 90 minutes (its very frustrating to be on the other side of the cone and need to talk to someone who’s been coned for 3 hours.)
  • Make it a habit.  Do it at least 3 times a week.

Of course, it does not have to be a cone.  Get creative.  As you can see, I have added a skull to my own cone…just to reinforce the gravity of circumstance that one would experience if they broke the code of the cone.

It’s hard to keep those marketing juices flowing if you are feeling bogged down.  Find a way to get yourself some quiet time.  You’ll be surprised at how quickly you get re-fueled.  BTW– The Chicago Tribune liked this idea so much, they shared it with their readers a while back.

(And yes, I have a carpet with a little road on it for match box cars in my office.  Another post for another time!)

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6 comments on “Stop, drop and cone?

  1. ann michael says:

    What a great idea! I love it. Funny how I was having very similar thoughts today. Access is great – but sometimes you have to pull the blinds and make believe no one’s home to regroup!!!

  2. Hi Drew,
    Great post. All the points were right on. I’m often surprised how many people in the workplace are afraid to do something similar. It makes me feel great when I can get some work done in a burst of energy. I often wonder how I can possibly take action on all the wonderful ideas from meetings. Thanks for the reminder. Even when working at home it’s important to take some of these steps. Three 90 minute sessions isn’t too much to carve out of the week but can make such a difference.

  3. Ann,

    Love the analogy — pull the blinds! I’m wondering if the quickly approaching holidays are contributing to our sense of mounting pressures and To Dos?

    Here’s to not always being home!


  4. Sandy,

    In some workplaces, coccooning is either frowned upon or not allowed. In other corporate cultures, it’s perceived as not being a team player.

    Short-sighted but in this day of “operate lean” mentality, not all that surprising.

    Let me know how coning yourself works!


  5. Starbucker says:

    Thanks Drew for the mention. I love this cone idea – some days I can’t get even 10 minutes of quiet. I usually have to just step outside, but that doesn’t work very well in the winter. I think I’ll go out and buy a cone! All the best.

  6. Starbucker,

    There’s a great peacefulness that comes from being able to focus without interruption. With e-mail, text messaging, blackberries, and all the other media dinging in our ear all day — we owe it to ourself to find some peace and quiet.

    I hope your “cone” whatever it ends up being works for you!


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