This morning I had to deal with an enforced (and non negotiable) power-less environment. Poor me.  Surprised it didn’t make the news headlines.

Apparently they had told us, in writing, weeks ago, that our electricity supply was to be upgraded, and we’d be without power all day.  I’d forgotten, of course, and out it went, just as I was about to hit “submit” on the online expenses claim I had been struggling with for half an hour.

What now?  I have a busy day ahead, lots of admin and chasing of clients to do, and co-ordinating a team of 5 facilitators for an event I’m leading tomorrow.  No power = no internet.  You might as well chop my left hand off.  OMG, as my kids would text!

Not long, though, before the great lateral thinker here cracked it: Blackberry to the rescue.  Kind of.  We have a variable mobile signal here in deepest Devon, so it’s not reliable enough for long phone calls, and it’s not really an option for a day’s worth of online admin.  So I drove up the road and managed half an hour of short emails and a few phone messages.  Then it occurred to me: what a good opportunity to do something more important: time to sit down and have a think.

Which is what I have been doing for the last hour or so.  Doing some important stuff, like revisiting the goals I set myself at the beginning of the year, actually planning how I’m going to position tomorrow’s training to a room full of potentially hostile managers.  Thinking about my daughter’s 21st birthday which is coming up.  Planning this Blog (which I now have 30 mins to commit to Word before the battery runs out: nothing like a tight deadline to focus the mind).

The thing is, how often do I really do this?  Not nearly often enough, methinks.  We all know we should plan more, and keep in mind what’s important.  It’s just that the sheer noise, speed and busyness of modern life makes us forget to do it.  I remember doing some research into this a few years ago.  Harvard Business Review came up with these statistics:

  • Typically middle and top managers work without interruption for more than 30 minutes just once every two days
  • One verbal contact in 368 is unrelated to a specific short term issue
  • Managers initiate an email on average once per day: the rest are reactive
  • They only receive 13% of emails which are of immediate and specific use.

How scary is that?

This is a world of frenzied activity: we’re like a load of hamsters on wheels who are too busy to get off and have something to eat.

It shouldn’t take my Electricity provider’s denial of supply for one day to get me to do some proper thinking.  That’s a bit like deliberately breaking your leg so you can get some time off for a much needed rest.  What I have discovered is that little problems like this often provide opportunities, and I am going to commit now to a self imposed “Power Cut” at least once a week in future.

Try one out for yourself.  Get someone to hide your laptop and your mobile for 3 hours, and see what results you come up with.

Must go, only 2 minutes left on the battery!  Time to buy myself a hamster, perhaps?

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