Clear Your Head to Connect With Anyone: The Doorknob Principle

Before you open another door, follow this three-step process:  Stop. Pause. Enter. It might take an extra 10 seconds, but doing this will help you become more conscious of your objectives and help you connect with your spouse, children, boss, mother-in-law, or whomever.

If you’re like me, you have a thousand things you’re thinking about and commitments you’re juggling. You’re probably bouncing from one thing to another, trying to keep it all together. You might feel overwhelmed, overworked, and mentally exhausted. You also might spend a good deal of your mental energy focused on the future — wondering how you should reply to that email from your nosy colleague, thinking about your grocery list, or even daydreaming about your upcoming vacation.

You could say I’m a little future-focused as well. Okay, you could say a lot future focused. My three-year old daughter continuously asks, “What’s the plan Daddy?” because even at her young age she has learned that I always have a plan.

I took the Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory — an online quiz to determine where you spend your mental time (past, present or future) — and my score for “future time perspective” was off the charts.

According to Philip Zimbardo (I revered him when I was earning my B.S. in psychology), future oriented folks make more money, are more hopeful, make the best of failure, and simply, get the job done. You might think I’m bragging, but there’s also a dark side. According to Zimbardo, future-focused folks sacrifice family, friends, and sex for success (his words!). Apparently we are so driven for a better future, we fail to recognize and appreciate the present. And that’s where the doorknob principle comes in.

If you find yourself focused on the past or the future and want to “live in the moment” a little more, the next time you come home, don’t just automatically open the door. First cleanse your head of all of the extraneous thoughts and baggage. Do this by consciously clearing your head. Forget about the traffic jam you were just in, the angry customer who couldn’t be pacified, how your son was a horror all day, or what you’re going to say at tomorrow’s meeting. Pause and focus on the doorknob. What color is it? It is wood or metal? Does it feel cold? By examining the doorknob you’ll help flush out the mental noise.

Now focus on who is on the other side of the door. It is your spouse? Your children? Whoever is on the other side of that door is probably one of the most important people in your life. Think about what they mean to you. With your heard cleared, open the door and enter. Make it a point to properly greet whoever is inside. For a great example of this, check out Jim Fannin’s video of the 90 Second Rule:

This simple three-step process is effective because it forces you to experience the now and become conscious of your intentions. It works just as well at the office as it does at home. Instead of rushing in to talk to your boss or a co-worker, first clear your head. I can’t think of a better way to spend 30 seconds a day of my other 8 hours.

In my next post I’ll share how I didn’t follow this advice and really blew a key meeting as a result.


For a limited time, you can download several free resources (assessment, poster, audio interview, video, and more) at and learn more about my new book, The Other 8 Hours: Maximize Your Free Time to Create New Wealth and Purpose.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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