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I'm often finding myself getting distracted very easily:

I walking to another room to do something (e. g. fetch something, write down something or do a task), on the way I'm seeing something that reminds me of another thing I wanted to do (or e. g. my wife asks me something or wants me something to do) and instantly I have forgotten what I originally wanted to do and will head for the second thing... etc.

Somethings I'm finding myself doing something and suddenly I remember, that I've started doing several other things I wanted to accomplish short before and quit them when being distracted by someone/something else.

When working on the computer, something like pomodoro technique could help conentrating on one thing, but on the way that does not seem to be an option.

So what can I do to concentrate on the thing I want to do and finish it (and capture the distracting ideas without loosing track of current goal).

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3 Answers 3

I use notes a lot for the same reason. I do not do what noted immediately, however. Most of them are then classified as "Someday/maybe" and "3rd priority". So, I have literally piles of good ideas.

That's a good thing.

In the end, many of the ideas are rejected as they seem not-so-attractive after a certain time.

I seems like you're cluttered with ideas too. Notes is a way to offload your memory a bit.

I recommend you to record an evening video of yourself reporting to you what you have achieved during the day. This will have a huge effect after a few weeks. Just don't forget to record.

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As modosansreves mentions - notes are very important - I send myself emails so that I know, and trust, that I will deal with it later.

For moving between rooms, I have a friend who, when he has something he wants to remember, he imagines gasping that thing in his fist, and thus if he finds himself walking around the house with a closed fist, he opens it and finds his purpose comes back to him...

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+1 for the closed fist - sounds like a good idea. –  Martin Jan 24 '12 at 22:41

The idea of the pomodoro technique is one that can go beyond blocking time for coding. You can apply the same technique for any task as long as you have a timer and stick to it. Just get in the habit of saying "I am going to work on task X for 15 minutes" and then switch to task Y or reassess.

Your question seems to be about you wandering, not distractions coming to you. If that's true, be happy. All you have to do is not wander. Control your environment and focus all your efforts on the task at hand. When the distractions are your own "I should do this other thing", jot it down and refocus. Even if it is an urgent item, you can deal with that after your timed block is up. If at that time your other task has a high priority, work it into your day. If not, note it and make plans (a time) to look at that item again.

I usually spend an hour on Sunday getting my week in order, blocking off time for the priorities and making time for the less urgent but still important stuff somewhere in my week, using my jot notes that are always in one place.

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hm "All you have to do is not wander." But I'm explicitly asking about distractions during tasks which require walking around e. g. in our home. And I won't start a 1-minute pomodoro for "go get the paper which my wife has to sign from the home office", or should I? That seems silly to me. My question is about mostly small tasks and things which are usually not noted on a todo list and which sometimes come to my mind spontaneously and I then want to accomplish them to know it's done, as is would be more effort to write them down than to directly do them. However, this can be a chain reaction.. –  Martin Jan 21 '12 at 8:11
    
I was being figurative... I meant mentally wandering. Of course it won't work for everything, like a 1 minute task, unless you block a time to do lots of those little tasks together. It may sound like more effort to write them down than to do them directly, but you might be surprised at how little time it takes if you use shorthand, and GROUP them all together into a 15 minute block. I would say that you would be surprised how quickly they would add up, but the fact that you asked the question speaks to the fact that you are noticing the effects of just doing what pops into your head. –  Dallas Jan 21 '12 at 16:00
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I guess I also do it because I know I need to write it down the little things... or I will forget them. If I don't, they keep popping up and I am more apt to stop what I'm doing, thinking "I'll forget it if I don't it now". If I write down the little things, I actually get to them. Not for everyone, but all I was trying to say is that you can apply the idea to most things. You're right that it's not for every task in life. –  Dallas Jan 22 '12 at 1:05

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