Staying On Task

apoemApril 26, 2006


Here is the question. What do you do to stay on task when you are working on a job? Or do you not stay on task and do you just figure if you put in x amount of time that is fine/ If so what is the amount of time you think is appropriate for any given task?

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Don't leave the area or the task. Bring in the cleaning supplies for the task, a trash can, a small notebook, and a box for "doesn't belong here" things.

If you find something that doesn't belong in the area, you don't leave the area you are working on! You put it in the "doesn't belong here" box and the last step in the task is to put the things in that box where they belong (or somewhere close to it). Minimizes sidetracking.

If you see something that needs cleaning, but it requires a special cleaner, you skip it (if you are cleaning mirrors, just take glass cleaner) write it in the notebook as needing cleaned, and schedule a time to do it later.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2006 at 4:02PM
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I have the same problem, I move from project to project without completing any of them.

It reminds me of an email I received; perhaps you have seen it. Sadly, it's true:

Recently, I was diagnosed with A. A. A. D. D. - Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder. This is how it manifests: I decide to water my garden.

... As I turn on the hose in the driveway, I look over at my car and decide my car needs washing.

.... As I start toward the garage, I notice that there is mail on the porch table that I brought up from the mail box earlier.

... I decide to go through the mail before I wash the car.

... I lay my car keys down on the table, put the junk mail in the garbage can under the table, and notice that the can is full. ... So, I decide to put the bills back on the table and take out the garbage first.

... But then I think, since I'm going to be near the mailbox when I take out the garbage anyway, I may as well pay the bills first.

I take my check book off the table, and see that there is only 1 check left.

... My extra checks are in my desk in the study, so I go inside the house to my desk where I find the can of Coke that I had been drinking.

... I'm going to look for my checks, but first I need to push the Coke aside so that I don't accidentally knock it over. I see that the Coke is getting warm, and I decide I should put it in the refrigerator to keep
it cold.

... As I head toward the kitchen with the Coke, a vase of flowers on the counter catches my eye--they need to be watered.

... I set the Coke down on the counter, and I discover my reading glasses that I've been searching for all morning.

... I decide I better put them back on my desk, but first I'm going to water the flowers.

... I set the glasses back down on the counter, fill a container with water and suddenly I spot the TV remote. Someone left it on the kitchen table.

... I realize that tonight when we go to watch TV, I will be looking for the remote, but I won't remember that it's on the kitchen table, so I decide to put it back in the den where it belongs, but first I'll water the flowers.... I pour some water in the flowers, but quite a bit of it spills on
the floor.

... So, I set the remote back down on the table, get some towels and
wipe up the spill.

... Then, I head down the hall trying to remember what I was planning to do.

... At the end of the day:

* the car isn't washed

* the bills aren't paid

* there is a warm can of Coke sitting on the counter

* the flowers don't have enough water,

* there is still only 1 check in my check book,

* I can't find the remote,

* I can't find my glasses,

* and I don't remember what I did with the car keys.

... Then, when I try to figure out why nothing got done today, I'm really baffled because I know I was busy all day long, and I'm really tired.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2006 at 7:18PM
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Do you mean something specific like getting a tax return finished? If so, I've learned to set a timer and work for 30 min. and then give myself a break. Sometimes just a few minutes a day is all I can attend to something.

Give us an example of what you mean, since I don't quite understand.


    Bookmark   April 26, 2006 at 9:50PM
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Hi Ginger!

I use a timer. Quite honestly, that is the only way I can stay on task. It helps me to know "I only have to worry about this for 15 (or whatever) minutes." To this day if my timer isn't set, I get side-tracked and no job gets done!


    Bookmark   April 27, 2006 at 2:09AM
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I have a hard time staying focused, too. When it doesn't matter, I let my mind wander and don't worry about it.

When it matters, I will also set a timer, or maybe put music on. I'll stick with what I'm doing until that CD is over. Then stretch, let the mind wander, and put another one on and get back to work.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2006 at 9:24AM
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I used to put on a music radio station and do chores based on the songs. I'd clean the toilet for one song, sweep the kitchen for two songs, etc. Yes it was lots of jumping around from one task to another, but it kept me going. In an hour or two, I'd have my house pretty darn clean!

    Bookmark   April 27, 2006 at 9:34AM
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What do you do to stay on task when you are working on a job?
First limit the scope of the task, then just try to concentrate!

Or do you not stay on task and do you just figure if you put in x amount of time that is fine/
No! Otherwise, it's just like mustangs said, you've flitted about and have nothing to show for it. I've learned this the hard way and still relapse sometimes. We've spent days working on our garage, but we kept moving from area to area and it doesn't look much better - we need to do one small section at a time so we have something to show for our efforts. Seeing a small clean/organized area will help us stay motivated to do other sections of the garage.

If so what is the amount of time you think is appropriate for any given task?
15 minutes. Reduce the scope of the task to fit the time period. By that I mean don't try to organize a whole bookcase, just one shelf or one drawer.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2006 at 2:01PM
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Excellent thoughts above!!

And yes!! I have set a timer OR turned on some music. And I literally set aside time to do a task --- like cleaning the closet.

Second -- I KNOW my personal reasons for getting the task completed!!! I HATE searching through clothes and junk to find clothes, shoes or jewelery. I get so frustrated when I keep wearing the same items or accessories because I feel like I've wasted money and space on other things.

Third -- I have set a realistic expectation about the task. I have only learned THAT hard lesson lately ---- about REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS.

For example -- "cleaning the closet" means several hours of work -- moving the clothes, then trying things on, sorting, re-hanging clothes and re-folding them into their designated drawers or areas. I clean the shoes (you would NOT believe the dust!!) and sort through bags and hats. Then bags are loaded with items for Goodwill -- and piled into my car. Then I vaccum the closet floor.

FOURth -- I continually tell myself: "COMPLETE THE TASK" ---- a simple mantra that really really worked for me!!


Because I get SO angry at myself when I have one of the days that Mustangs so well described above.

I want to get the task off my mental list ----- and then have MY kind of day ((without the mental jabs of "Clean the Closet"))

    Bookmark   April 27, 2006 at 3:57PM
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