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Mental churn

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I have trouble focusing.

Part of the problem is I get interrupted a lot while trying to work on things. Either the dogs are demanding attention or want to be on the other side of the door (no matter which side they are currently on), or the phone rings, or the wife needs help with something, or ….

It seems that just as I get started on whatever project I’m trying to work on, right when I enter the mental frame of mind needed to make some progress, something interrupts and I quickly have to switch mental gears.

They say it takes fifteen to twenty minutes to get back into the ‘flow’ of your work after an interruption. I can acknowledge the truth of this statement from back in the day when I was working in office cubicle farms with lots of open space around me. I’d get going on a piece of programming and be moving along, and then I’d have to go to a stupid meeting (most meetings I attended could have been handled by an email or two), or a cow-orker would stop by to ask a question or have a chat. It would take me about fifteen minutes to really get back into the space where I could program again.

I saw a sign once, somewhere on the Internet, that read something like:

Valid Reasons For Interrupting Me

  1. I’m on fire
  2. You’re on fire and I’m the only person available to put it out
  3. The building is on fire
  4. You have [insert favorite treat here] and you are going to share them with me
  5. You are giving me money

I always wanted to hang that in my cubicle but none of the places I worked ever had enough of a sense of humor to allow it.

The other reason I have problems focusing is too many projects. I’ve got a long list of just writing projects I want to do. And my Muse keeps adding to it. She keeps giving me ideas for new series to write. Series take a lot of time and energy to write. Just one can keep an author occupied for a decade or more.

Then there are all the other things I want to do. Things like melting aluminum in a forge and sandcasting something from it, or learning to play the ukulele, or learning more juggling, or the aforementioned cartooning, or ….

A friend of mine once described Life as ‘being ushered into a grand banquet hall, filled with every conceivable type of food you could ever want. And you’re allowed to take all of it you want. The problem is, you get thirty seconds to grab it all, and then you are forcibly kicked out.

All this is further complicated by the fact that once you choose one of these multitudes of projects and say ‘yes’ to doing it, you immediately say ‘no’ to everything else. You just can’t do it all. Yet, I keep spinning my wheels trying to chase everything and ultimately not getting anything done. I guess I’m not Buckaroo Banzai and able to live life going in fifteen directions at once.

So, I’m going to narrow it down to my main goals of writing, and cartooning. I’m saying ‘no’ to all the other things. If I get a chance to do any of them, great. If not, I’m going to have to be OK with not doing them. Of course, there are more writing projects to do than I can do in one lifetime. I’ll just have to be OK with not getting them all written too. I also need to crack the whip and get busy writing more.

So little to do, so much time to do it in. Strike that. Reverse it. – Willy Wonka

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