Previously, I wrote about using a “parking lot” to remove competing thoughts that otherwise detract from critical daily goals.
What happens when we forget to use a digital or analog parking lot? Every competing thought has the potential to take us off track for minutes or hours at a time.
Take last week, for example.
Earning the ICD’s ADHD Specialist Certificate was one of my 2023 goals. I was rereading ADHD course notes and happily plugging right along until I read a sentence that was particularly “sticky.”
If I do my “future self” a favor by using my dry-erase pad as a parking lot, I stay on track more easily. Then “Future Judith” at the end of the day will feel satisfied with "Past Judith’s" progress. I have been using this "past" vs. "future" self tactic for many years to help initiate tasks that are about as enjoyable as watching paint dry.
Typically, my pad is within arm’s reach to park competing thoughts. Sometimes those competing thoughts revolve around other tasks I need to do. Quite often, though, the competing idea starts with an innocuous “I wonder. . . “
I forgot to ensure my pad was nearby on this particular day. Then I read the “sticky” suggestion regarding RSS feeds. I bet you can guess what happened next.
“Oh yeah, I tried to set up RSS feeds a few years ago to stay on top of relevant organizing news.”
“I wonder what happened with that?”
“Oh yeah: I tried setting it up, but it wasn’t working, so I cut my losses and moved on.”
“I still think they could help me keep up with the news. I wonder if I just had the wrong idea as to what RSS entails.“
Before I knew it, I had scratched the curiosity itch and felt immediate satisfaction in finally understanding RSS feeds. That is until I looked at the time. A half hour had passed, and I was no closer to finishing the critical task, and it was getting late. The satisfaction immediately morphed into guilt; had "Past Judith" remembered to use my parking lot, I would have quickly parked that curiosity where it belonged, off to the side, so I could continue focusing on my goal.
Luckily it was only a half hour, but a half hour here or an hour there is how a day starts with lighthearted hope and ends with a resounding thud.
The parking lot is no panacea for all distraction woes, but it gives us a fighting chance to feel satisfied with our efforts by the end of the day.
So how about it? There is nothing to lose; how about giving the parking lot a shot? If you want a refresher on how it works, click here. The more you use it, the more you will remember to use it. The more focused you can be on those tasks, the more likely you will feel good about working towards those important goals by the end of the day.
Author: Judith Dold
Musings from yours truly about all things organizing.