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The Free-Time Formula by Jeff Sanders

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12Turn Off the Lights and Hide!: Lock the Door

Though I have always been a fan of productivity, I became fascinated with strategizing every detail of my life and work when I was hired as the registrar of a college in Nashville.

In one of my many careers in my twenties, I finagled my way into a job that requires immense organizational skills. The registrar of any school is responsible for thousands of tiny details and managing many piles of paperwork, filing systems, student records, schedules, transfer credits, diplomas, and a multitude of other duties.

Within a few weeks of settling into my new position, it was evident I needed more skills, better systems, more efficiency, and most importantly, more space for myself to think and work.

Throughout my day I would receive dozens of phone calls, instant messages, emails, and drop‐ins from students, faculty, and staff.

The work I was responsible for was tedious and required a meticulous approach to ensuring every t was crossed and every i was dotted. I had my own office, but staying focused on any singular task was next to impossible with the endless flood of distractions pouring in at every hour of the day.

I began taking a hard‐line approach to my availability.

At first, I put a sign on my door that read “Conference Call” during the key hours that I needed to focus. The sign was a bit of a lie, but it worked like a charm. Most people assumed I was unavailable and came back later, or not at all.

My boss caught on to this trick in ...

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