I think I’ve mentioned to you before that I’m a little on the ADD side. Distract-able doesn’t come close to the correct description of me! I’ve come to use the term Squirrel-triggered.
Never seeing the movie “UP,” I did catch the previews with the dog who had a talking mechanism attached to his collar. He’d be talking along and suddenly spin shouting, “Squirrel.” That word has become the call of my family when I start down rabbit trails or bring up a topic in a mid-conversation that I was having in my brain.
(Love the looks that my husband gives me when I do that. I halfway want to try to convince him that he blacked out or something.)
Anyway, did I mention that my writing was interrupted the other day by a shadow on the trellis of our back porch? An actual squirrel. And yes, it took probably twenty to thirty minutes for me to get back to my writing.
Distraction isn’t all bad, though. I never miss the movements of animals at the side of the road, even in the dark. I can read about every billboard as I’m driving down the freeway. (Remembering them is a different matter altogether.) Oh, and the story ideas that float in with the changing wind. Or the funny one-liners I can pop off because my mind works in odd twists. Priceless.
Truth be known, I don’t mind my ADD. Except when I’m attacking a project. Then it gets tedious. Every sound, discussions going on in other rooms, construction noises from outside, my dog giving himself a bath. (Ick) But the worst things are the tones on my phone and the alerts on my computer.
The computer is bad enough. I’ll need to do a little research – the name of a restaurant, road number, or how to spell a foreign word. But when I get on with my 9-15 tabs, I flip through each of them. Post on Facebook. Retweet something. Hit a link and visit an Instagram pic or a blog post. Share it on Facebook. Check me emails. Answer the newest, most pressing catastrophe …
You get the picture. And I’m not exaggerating one iota. Pretty soon, I’m wading through my open tabs trying to remember which internet site I was on to start with. Oh, yeah. It was a document. And I forgot to start the search page I needed in the first place.
But I’ve come up with a few tricks for me while I’m working. Maybe, they’ll work for you as well?
- Turn off the computer sound. If I don’t hear the tones shouting new comments or messages on Facebook, then I won’t be enticed to visit there.
- Phone too! Even if mine is in the other room, I can make out the rings that tell me I have a new email or message. So I turn the sound down and give it to a daughter in case I get an actual call. (I don’t know about you, but they seem to be rarer and rarer for me! Calls, not daughters! LOL!)
- My internet is always active and always multi-tabbed. (Right now, I have 15 open) But that’s the way my out-of-sight-out-of-mind brain works. If I close tabs that I’m interested in—like suggested dresses for my daughter, or the flower-making tutorial, or the shower invitation that I am bound to blow off even though the date is on my calendar—I’ll forget about them. So I minimize the whole kit-n-kaboodle and open only one window at a time for the writing things that I need.
- Music distracts me, even orchestrations or movie soundtracks. So I turn on a recorded rain shower from an app on my iPad and use ear buds to eliminate other sounds. Works GREAT!
- And the shadow on the porch problem? Well, I moved into a corner of the other room. I can do the windows here if I want, but my little corner is a well-lighted, interior one. No distractions here except for the fan-blade shadows.
Hope my tricks help you if you suffer from Squirrel-triggers.
Your turn: What’s your favorite squirrel trigger? (Mine is my girls singing together, but it’s also the most deadly to me getting any work done. I always want to join them.)