Head Down, Walk Forward: The Art of Putting on Blinders

Posted March 24, 2013 by Marcy Twete in On the Ladder

Let me preface what I’m about to say with the fact that I don’t necessarily know much about nor believe in the idea of astrology. But apparently (or perhaps the right word is allegedly), for the last two weeks, the world has been experiencing what astrologers call “Mercury in Retrograde.” What does that mean, exactly? Here’s how I understand it: it’s a time when the planet Mercury actually appears to be moving backward in the sky. It is, of course, not actually moving backward, it just appears to be. And according to astrologers, this can have an adverse affect on energies on Earth, making us all prone to move a little bit backward ourselves.

Now whether you believe in this kind of astrology or not, let me tell you, I’ve definitely felt like the last couple of weeks were just backwards. A friend of mine said, “Don’t you just feel like no one is showing up for life the last few days?” recently. Left and right the last few weeks, people have been cancelling meetings and biting one another’s heads off (myself included). Maybe it’s Mercury in Retrograde, maybe it’s daylight savings time, or maybe it’s just that we’re all really sick of winter. For whatever reason, the last couple of weeks seem to have been difficult for everyone.

So how do you get through those weeks when everyone should probably just stay in bed? My advice: put your blinders on. If you don’t know what blinders are, they originated with horses. Flaps of fabric or plastic on the immediate left and right of a horse’s eyes causes the horse to walk straight and not be distracted by its peripheral vision. And while wearing actual blinders may not be possible for humans, putting on proverbial blinders might be.

Try these blinder inducing tips:

  • Set your “out of office” reply even if you’re not out of office. Sure, it may be telling a little white lie, but it also lowers expectations. If you’re working on a big project and need to get through it, let people know you will not be responding to email by setting that immediate reply. This sets expectations for when you’ll respond and allows you to focus.
  • Close your door, but let people know why. A closed door could tell your staff you’re on a phone call or you’re stressed or you’re firing someone – a whole host of reasons. If you really need to put on the blinders in your job this week, let those around you know by saying, “Hey guys, I think I’m going to keep my door closed for much of the week. I’m working on some projects that need my undivided attention. But if you need me, don’t hesitate to ask.”
  • Work from home. Obviously this idea has created some controversy lately. Are you more productive or less when you work from home? My contention is that working from home regularly can be hit or miss, but working from home when you really need to get something specific done and put those blinders on is often very effective. If you can, take the opportunity to do this.

Here’s to Mercury getting out of Retrograde and Winter giving way to Spring!

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."