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With the American economy roaring like the Lion King, this is no time for distractions.

Like, say, March Madness.

When action tips off around 12:20 pm EST today, the entire American workforce will spend at least half of today watching men's college hoops on their PCs, tablets and cell phones. Mike Tyson,  Sean Hannity, Paul Krugman, Lester Holt, Donald Trump, Kim Kardashian, Pitbull--they're all watching ball today while supposedly at work doing work.

American economists estimate the nation's Gross Domestic Product, the sum of all goods and services produced, takes a massive hit during the tournament as worker productivity plummets, especially today and tomorrow. Thirty-seven or so games are played all afternoon and evening around the nation on each day.

To keep American private industry and government agencies humming along, I thought you would find these tips helpful to avoid the distraction.

First, don't read any emails from bloggers especially those writing about the tournament. They're bound to be pumping out half-baked, under-researched, disjointed ideas that could be just one big waste of your time. If you read anything today, be sure it's something boring and tedious like, say, something work-related.

Second, if you're a big shot and have an office where you can close the door, close it. Don't allow Billy and Joey from down the hall come in your office even if they knock. You know from experience they always are looking for opportunities to talk about anything not work related while at work. They are bound to want to talk about the tournament and what's happening in the afternoon games or about who they picked to win today's games. Gesture to them that you're busy and can't be bothered. Pretend you've got a conference call coming up in seconds. Shoo them away. Act slightly agitated.

Third, during the opening round game don't start watching it at work. You are bound to get caught up in the drama--the sudden death nature of it all in which the end of teams' seasons and players' basketball careers end with one crushing and second-long blow. Avoid this temptation by going to Home Depot. Walk down the grass seed and fertilizer aisle and read about the upside of using Fescue on your lawn. It's actually kind of fascinating how Fescue works, I've heard, and even cooler the way the word sounds. Picture yourself spreading Fescue on your lawn to get a jump on your neighbors in the annual Spring race to get grass to grow in the wake of an arduous and sullen winter. Ask a salesperson to explain to you what number you should set on your spreader for seed and fertilizer and, if different, ask why they differ. Really seek to understand this. This activity should kill about 20 minutes.  Go to Taco Bell and order two potato and cheese burritos. Another 7 minutes. Then drive back to the office, sit at your desk, and think hard about lawn work, not basketball.

Fourth, as you read your emails, delete any from anyone updating you about the afternoon games without opening them. Don't read them. If you do, you are bound to go to the live feed on your computer and watch. The day will be a goner. What you don't know about can't hurt you or America.

Fifth, read your company's boilerplate. Study it. Read it out loud three times. Send an email to somebody you know in another department asking them what they think of the boilerplate, whether it works for them.

Sixth, as you walk through the hall to the men's room, which you inevitably will this afternoon, put your head down and try not to listen to the yelping and lively discussions going on about the games. Pretend you are in New York City walking the streets and are fearful of making eye contact with anyone. Just go to the bathroom and walk straight back to your office. Any meandering is bound to be perilous; almost everybody will be watching the games and talking about the games. This will make you feel like an outlier but your job is to stay disciplined today.

Seventh, when you return to the office, fire up your favorite online poker game. You can get your gambling fix this way without throwing more money around by gambling with people in the office about the basketball games. No sense losing any more money than you have to. Play online poker for at least an hour and really get immersed in it. Concentrate. Contemplate whether you should play in this year's Main Event poker tournament in Las Vegas.

Eighth, call your spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend. Start the conversation by stipulating that you don't want to talk about the tournament because you're wanting to stay productive at work and keep America's economy rolling. If they say that's a weird thing to say, tell them your feelings are hurt. This will spawn several minutes of discussion about how you are such a pain to be in a relationship with. More time will elapse. They will really lay into you and won't mind taking several minutes doing it.

Ninth, and finally, respond to your boss's emails. They are bound to take your mind off of basketball. You will be informed about what you're doing wrong, what you still owe him or her. You will be asked why you are late fulfilling your deliverables. You will find out how wrong-headed you can be sometimes. You will feel bad about who you are. For the rest of the afternoon, you will sulk in misery. The day will be over and you will have completed your job for America and not fallen prey--like the rest of the nation's workforce--to the natural human urge to watch basketball during work. You will have done your patriotic duty.

 

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