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a blog by Chris Barrow


A phrase used by one of my clients really caught my attention this week - time hijackers.

She, of course, was referring to the stuff that gets in the way of doing the stuff that really matters.

It reminded me of Stephen Covey's quadrants and how the pandemic has forced us to spend a lot more time in the "urgent but not important" area - deferring the "important but not urgent" tasks.

I consider myself pretty good at avoiding distractions and those BSOs (bright shiny objects) that can fascinate us away from getting things done.

It helps to be working from my basement office, a place where nobody ever taps on the door and asks "have you got a minute?"

However, I am as digitally vulnerable as everybody.


  • WhatsApp;

  • Facebook;

  • Instagram;

  • Twitter;

  • Linkedin;

  • Messenger;

  • FaceTime;

  • Text;

  • Unsolicited marketing emails;

  • All those darned newsletters I signed up to when I bought things online;

  • Strava;

  • Goodreads;

  • BBC News;

  • The Guardian;

  • Netflix;

  • Anything to do with cycling, technology or from Apple.

It's a wonder sometimes that we get anything done.

One thing I'm good at is leaving "the devices" behind when I leave my office and walk upstairs to my home when the day is done.

However, when I am in the office, it takes mind over matter to not be distracted by the incoming.

All of this took me back to the late 70's and my job as a sales rep for a financial services company. I had a telephone on my desk and a handheld dictation machine. When I was out in my company car and visiting clients, I had to stop at a phone box to call the office, until we were issued with "mobile phones" the size of house bricks.

My hand-written task list (in a W.H. Smith page a day diary) had two sections:

  1. People to call

  2. Things to do

A simpler life.

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