Lately, it seems I can’t keep my mind on one thing long enough to accomplish anything. This is not just in writing, it’s everywhere – stuff I need to do at home, and also at my day job.

Sometimes, life can feel like this

You’d think it would be easy to stay focused on my job. I’m blessed to have a job I actually like, and the people I work for pretty much hand me a project to do then leave me alone to do it. They are so hands off they rarely even ask for progress. So I can sit at my computer and write code all day 😀 – yes, I know that sounds awful to a lot of people, but it’s what I love! People seldom stop by my desk and interrupt me, unlike jobs past where that was the reason I couldn’t get anything done. When my awesome, current coworkers stop by, it’s usually for something important, like lunch. Yet, there are enough facets to a programming project that I actually can – and do – break up my tasks.

There’s always documentation to be written – something none of us like to do (otherwise, we become business analysts, like one of my peeps), and always seems to be put off until the last minute. There are usually bugs to fix. Email to answer. Luckily, my desk phone hardly ever rings (heaven!) and when it does, it’s a wrong number half the time.

But even when I’m deep in coding, work gets fragmented because to see my changes, I have to restart the web server on my computer, which takes a minute or two.

And while it’s doing that, I’m off to read blogs. Or check personal email on my phone. Or something similar.

At first,  making use of these few minutes of downtime here and there seemed like a good way to keep up with all the blog reading I have. There are over 100 blogs in my Google Reader feed – granted, not all of them update regularly, or even often. But there are dozens of new ones to read every day, some of which I really enjoy and look forward to. But by the time I read a post and maybe comment, my web server’s been restarted for a couple of minutes and I’m basically goofing off. Not good. Other times, I’m on a roll with something, then a reminder pops up from Microsoft Outlook, or a random thing I need to remember pops into my head, so of course I have to note that great idea for a blog post on my phone, go call that person or make that appointment, or send that email. More fragmentation.

It’s worse at home, and I don’t have the excuse of waiting for a web server to restart. Mostly it’s that last thing – remembering something or the burst of inspiration that never comes when I’m actually working on the thing that needs inspiring. Sometimes I think of something I want to look up on the Internet – just for a minute! – which of course turns into fifteen. Or a half hour. Or more. I think this fragmentation is the root of all evil of my motivation problems. It doesn’t help that my to-do list is seemingly a mile long – and just thinking about it is overwhelming sometimes to the point that I just want to play computer games (and sometimes, that’s just what I do). This is worse when I’m not feeling well (my excuse reason for not posting a blog on Monday).

Some of this is within my control. Today, I went to work resolved to give my job my full attention, even if it meant twiddling my thumbs for a minute while waiting for the ol’ web server to restart or some files to copy over the network.

I got a lot done – got my project deployed to where my coworkers can use it, in fact. I got documentation written – a whole release notes document. Not a big one, but important. It felt good, I felt accomplished, and I enjoyed work more.

My blog reading might just have to get cut back a bit.

The other stuff is harder to get a handle on – what I call the “life” stuff. Remembering at nine PM, an appointment I have to make the next day during business hours. The best way to be sure I’ll remember it is to email myself at work – right now. That thing I have to look up on the Internet before I forget. I still haven’t gotten to blogs yet today, or writing, other than this blog post, because of planning other things – and playing a computer game or two.

What about you? Have you noticed your life getting more fragmented as you get older or take on more roles (adding “writer” to “mom/dad,” “employee,” “husband/wife,” etc.)? Does it disrupt your enjoyment of things you used to love? How did/do you handle it? Right now, “power through” is my only answer. Wish me luck that it’ll continue!