“Squirrel!” I typed and hit send. My email disappeared into the ethernet. My colleague on the other end quickly responded, “What?” She didn’t understand my pop-culture reference to the distractions that keep us off track. Squirrels, those little pesky little ideas that run around in our heads and distract us like squirrels crossing the street, which way should I go?
Linda Samuels, the person who had responded, recently introduced me to the concept of full-cycle thinking. She explained it like this: We have laundry. We wash, fold, and put away the laundry. Hopefully. This is a full cycle. I paused and thought of my own laundry, that which often sits in a basket long after it’s been cleaned because, well, SQUIRREL!
As a young mother, a doctor explained to me that the inability to remain focused on a single task is considered Attention Deficit Disorder. Clearly, I had a child (well two) with attention issues (remember that mom you saw chasing two young boys through, under, and around the racks at the department store? That was me). What I now know is that I, too, share in this issue. My full-cycle thinking is often interrupted by squirrels—Respond to an email, wait, another email, oh, look an invitation to listen to a podcast, hmmm, who is that guest, oh, what’s an ocularist, I should look that up–oh it’s someone who fits individuals with a prosthetic eye, cool, when did I last have my eyes examined?
My rudimentary solution for this problem is to remain as organized as possible (enter Linda Samuels, my colleague and professional organizer). When I remove the clutter from my desk, inbox, and close the open tabs on my computer (there are currently 18), I stay nearer to my daily goals. Some days I’m amazed I complete anything, and others, well, there is always tomorrow.
As I begin this new year with lofty ambitions, I want to remind myself that setting a realistic bar and feeling success daily is much more satisfying that imagining some distant pedestal that I might one day reach. Goals should be obtainable; understanding our own work patterns helps. Decluttering is a daily task for me, but so is brushing me teeth—both are actions I begin and end each day with. Trust me, decluttering is not a goal, it’s a lifestyle for someone who needs to tame the fuzzy rodents in her head.
Now it’s time to make an eye appointment. Oh, lookie, SQUIRREL!