“You can’t turn back the clock. But you can wind it up again.”
— Bonnie Prudden

The desert sky was filled with brilliant red-tinged clouds as the sun drifted slowly below the horizon. It reminded me of Mars and of an aspect of the world depicted in Kim Stanley Robinson’s brilliant book, Red Mars.

The day on Mars is a bit over 39 minutes longer than a day on Earth. In Robinson’s book, the Mars colonists decided to stay synchronized with Earth’s clock. They did this by stopping all the clocks on Mars each midnight. The Martian clocks remained stopped for the entire 39.5 minutes of extra day before turning to 12:01 AM. During this time outside time, the entire culture of Mars respected that this stopped time period was set aside for each person to use for themselves.

Last week, I was speaking to one of my clients who was overwhelmed. I related this bit of Robinson’s story where on Mars everyone claimed a slice of time as their own. My client looked in the distance wistfully and said, “Yes, I really would like that.”

Continuing our conversation, we recognized that anyone can take control of at least a part of their time almost every day and use that time just for themselves.

My client came up with five ideas that are going to be used immediately. One of them is to simply post “open door” hours along with a note that when the door is closed, it is interrupt-free time.

The most important and overarching idea was the realization that interrupt-free time is a superpower that we can all tap into. Stopping the clock for yourself gives you the potential for more energy. It frees the brain for more ideas. It prepares you for the tumult of the rest of the day.

Hmm. I wonder if I could make a clock that stopped at 12:00 for 39.5 minutes before changing to 12:01 AM. It does sound magical to me.

How can you claim the time you need to power the rest of your day?

Yours in the calm pursuit of excellence,


Alan Willett

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