Posted by Lisa_Hidgon_Professional_Organizer on October 12, 2012  /   Posted in Blog

I have a confession. This week while battling a cold and not sleeping well, I found the Tetris video game on line. It has consumed me. I try to write. I wander back to Tetris. There is a definite guilt factor here. While I know that I should let myself rest, I feel that I should be doing something productive.

The good news is, while I was flipping the shapes to fit into the correct spaces, I was subconsciously thinking about my writing. Something that I have recently read in a book about adult ADHD explains this. It seems that this is just how some people think. It’s your mind going where it needs to go, while you are doing something else. Usually the “something else” is considered a mindless activity. Do your best ideas come to you in the shower? If my kitchen design clients only knew how many solutions I have found in there! I am also the person who doodles all over the printed agenda at a meeting. You’d think I wasn’t paying attention, but apparently doodling is allowing me to pay attention.

The trouble is I can let myself go on Tetris “creative breaks” at a moment’s notice. It’s so easy to get sucked in. Just one more game, and one more game. This distraction could be the internet or television, or anything that keeps us from tackling the things we really should be doing.

What is the solution? How do we offset the plusses of the distraction with the time they take away from productive work? Here are some suggestions:

Use a Timer – make yourself work for a predetermined period of time. I often do this for writing, but especially for tasks that I don’t want to do. Cleaning is one for me. I will make myself do it for 20 minutes. This helps me to get started. When the timer rings the job either done, or I want to keep going.

Scheduled Breaks – Decide when to break and for how long. Employ the timer again to remind you to get back to work. An alternative is to plan a break activity with a definite finish – like five games of Tetris. This doesn’t give a set time but is still limiting. You have to be careful about the activity you pick. If you check the mail you could get distracted by something you receive, and find yourself paying bills while the original task goes unfinished. Something that has a definite finish like washing dishes may not seem like a break, but the mindless task may be enough to let your brain relax.

Buddy System – Tell someone your plan. It keeps you accountable.

Plan to split the task. With writing I write on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. The Tuesday session gets me started. Then for forty-eight hours I have my ideas in my head. By Thursday I find that things come together and I can complete the work.

I must finish with a corny analogy. I tried to resist, but here goes… Like the pieces of the Tetris puzzle, it’s a challenge to make it all fit. Many times things get turned around and put in the wrong place. Make your plan, but be ready to adapt it. If it doesn’t quite work out, when the time is up you get to try again.

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