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I used to get overwhelmed with work when I was growing up. I would end up doing nothing I needed to do because I was so overwhelmed. I think of that whenever I get into that rut where I'm not getting anything accomplished. I find creating a list and CROSSING OUT what I did makes me feel like I've done something. The key is to break down tasks to multiple increments so you have something to cross off (i.e if you are preparing a consultation , break it down to: speak with customer about a, b, c; plan course outline, create handouts, update website, etc...Not: prepare course).

There is something empowering about being able to cross things off the list. I then "reward" myself with a half hour break. Then on to the list again.

I have been procrastinating on my dissertation and went ahead with the next phase even though I wasn't finished with the transcriptions. It felt good to go on and accomplish something which has given me incentive to continue to work on the transcriptions.

Finally, I agree that you need the day dreaming time. I feel it helps to "defrag" you brain so you can concentrate later on.

Michele -

Your post caused me to pause and reflect specifically on points no. 4 and 5. I suffer from the same affliction and I think they are related. I think both stem from a desire to be helpful, which is both a blessing and a curse (strength turned into a weakness if not watched). I don't know if you have ever read the Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt. The book is a great read. He talks about the mind being like an elephant and its rider, and how it becomes largely a matter of training yourself. There is a nice summary of it in a GTD context, but one that is useful overall, at GTD Times at this url http://www.gtdtimes.com/2008/08/04/this-is-your-elephant-on-gtd-any-questions/.

Re scope creep, I know there is definitely a part that I play, but in working on getting better definition from the other side, I have found that it takes a lot of effort and persistence because there can be a murky haze on the other side that bleeds into things I am doing. Tightly written project definitions help ... specifically ones that I write and then use as a guide help. There is large benefit to better clarity though so the effort is worth it.

Best of luck to you in your adventure.

People always say to be positive, yet there is a balance between being too positive and not seeing the world the way it is and being too negative and shutting off solutions or seeing that many of those huge things we need to tackle, are not as important in the scheme of greater things... such as that report daunting yes, your job yes, but consider it in the context of, say, a mountain growing a 1/4 inch or some other positive grand thing (not acid rain or the bees, frogs, bats, oaks, pines vanishing kind of grand thing). I find just resting on some image of a great force of nature is like going for a walk, but without the 2-3 hours I don't have nor the weather conditions I cannot enjoy for 11 months a year (New England).

Virginia--I like the metaphor of daydreaming as a version of "de-fragging"--very true. My challenge is also making sure that I'm daydreaming in a positive way, rather than ruminating, which is another way I can go off into my own little mental world.

WDF--I did read The Happiness Hypothesis and remember that elephant metaphor well. The GTD Elephant article is a great one that I hadn't seen. Thanks for the resource! And thanks for the sympathy on scope creep. I agree that when you can have clarity, it works better. I find that my mind (the elephant part) resists that at times. :-)

And P Griffith--great idea to just think about the grand scheme of things in nature. Maybe I need to have more nature pictures around me in my office. Right now I'm staring at a blank wall (my attempt to not distract myself), but maybe I need some mountains and trees and rocks to remind me of perspective.

If I am given the choice, I would like to go back to pen and paper!

I do not use my mobile phone UNLESS I must. I do not chat online unless I must. Of course I know Twitter by name, but that is where I stopped ... all these 'instant' things -- stop and think -- are they really necessary? Why is it so important that I have to Twitter and announce to the WWW that I have just finished reading xxx, or I am in xxx ??? Something is getting out of hand ... are we doing all these just because we want to be part of the crowd, OR do we absolute need to get ourselves distracted and become ineffective by all these online distractions?? I think we all have to sit down and have some serious talks to ourselves -- Is vanity (to show that I am one of the crowd) so important that INSTANT is a must???

Many, Many years ago when letters would take days and weeks to be somewhere, we take efforts and careful thought in penning a letter to a dear one. These days we Twitter, we SMS. Broken thoughts. Broken messages with in-comprehensive spelling. We are careless because IF we made a mistake remedy is quick at hand. That concentration, that devotion is doing something for a person is no longer there. Is quantity (how many messages, how many Twitters, how many SMSs, how many online friends) so much more important than QUALITY?

I go the slow boat. Any time. Any where.

Thanks so much for this Michelle.

Something I've just started doing this week (since your last post) is favouriting tweets that I want to get back to later, and also, when I find a link I want to look into more, I just bookmark it with delicious straight away, and then get back to it AFTER work!

This is working for me so far, which is encouraging. Have also fully taken on board your closing gmail idea. Plus my work email as well. I try to check it every two or three hours. No email is THAT important that it can't wait a few hours to be replied too!

I guess if I put these things into practice slowly (one at a time) then I will eventually get rid of all my mental clutter, and hopefully be a more productive worker.

Just came over from your original blog I stumbled upon today, describing the causes of mental clutter. Of all the suggested solutions, one of my top ones would be to journal every day to get stuff out of your head and down on paper. But if you have to keep writing down the same things over and over because they keep coming back on a regular basis, then it becomes a chore. That's why I figured out a way to create PERMANENT unconditional freedom from any unwanted condition in my life, so they don't clutter my mind ever again if that's what I choose. Yes it does take making a choice to be free, now and forever, if you want permanent freedom, and I realize that it could be scary to let go of our old "friends" for good. But I found that many things really need no longer be there and I have gotten rid of them for good, and I am better off as a result (and mostly don't need to deal with the bad feeelings that used to be there a lot of the time)

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