Mark today down in history. Get a red pen and circle today’s date in your calendar because tomorrow your life will be different because of what I discovered today. I’ve cracked the code and solved the problem that is “trying to look busy at work”. It’s so simple I’m actually a little angry at myself for not figuring it out until now. In the confines of my L-shaped desk in the offices of Ralph Lauren, with excel spreadsheets and forecasts piling up to my eyeballs, this brain was still able to cultivate the trick of the trade. It’s not having a stack of papers in front of you. It’s not stapling random documents when you hear your boss’s footsteps (by the way, learning to distinguish your boss’s footsteps from everyone else’s is a useful tip). It’s not furiously typing away pretending to be a spreadsheet guru. Walking around at all time with papers although great, is not the revolutionary development I’ve come up with.
Pencil in the ear.
Tuck a pencil behind your ear and you will forever seem busy. Pointy part facing forward, always appearing ready to write something down should the need arise. It doesn’t matter if you’re eating lunch, in the bathroom, scavenging the kitchen for snacks, making shitty office coffee, typing away while your eyes glaze over in front of the computer screen, etc. Doesn’t even matter if your job requires you to write anything ever. In fact that makes you look even better. “Wow look at Eric ready to go with that sharpened pencil. What if I need to write something down right now? I can’t seem to locate my writing instrument. I wish I were more like Eric.”
I’m the Christopher Columbus of the workplace. I didn’t write one thing down all day today, but I was ready. That’s what it comes down to, availability and preparation. If you notice someone with a pencil in their ear, it’s only natural to assume they’re responsible for writing something important at a moment’s notice. Pencil in the ear is a power move and always will be. I may sleep with a pencil in my ear for the rest of my life. Probably won’t need it but also don’t wanna take that chance of not being ready. I almost didn’t want to tell anyone else because that’s how things get overdone and they lose their value. Inflation at its finest. But this is a useful shortcut that I’d be remiss to not share with anyone who struggles with trying to appear busy during the workday.
Very important: must be a pencil not a pen. Pen in the ear is weird and usually falls anyway. Pen goes in the shirt pocket, pencil goes in the ear, no exceptions.