Easily Distracted


I have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) – or whatever the trendy name is for it these days. Basically, I’m easily distracted…to the point of being downright dangerous sometimes. Its either that, or I have a gazillion things going on all at once and its not usual for me to hop from one to the other and back again.

Normally, it’s not a problem. In some cases, however, I can be a walking disaster zone with my distractibility. For instance, it’s not unusual for me to set a kettle of water boiling to make tea – and then a few hours later realize that the kettle has completely boiled itself dry because I forgot that I did it. Which is fine, really – – unless the kettle has fused itself to the burner after being left empty on a blazing hot stove top for that long. (yes, I speak from experience)

Alzheimer’s you say? Nah – I’ve been this way my whole, entire life. Though, I did manage to graduate high school in 4 years – as well as being a graduate after 4 years of college, plus, I’m still alive to tell you all about this – so, obviously, I’ve had to learn how to deal with my little problem. I’ve had to learn to compensate for my distractibility and try and put things in place to help me not be so distracted.

Earlier tonight, for instance – I put a pizza in the oven. Now, I know for a FACT, if I had walked out of the kitchen while cooking the pizza – I would have completely forgotten about it.

I’m dangerous that way.

Outlook Calendar ReminderBut, because I had work to get done, emails to answer, and such – I took a big risk in leaving the kitchen while the pizza cooked to answer some emails while I waited for the pizza. Risky move on my part – – burnt pizzas with dripping cheese could start an oven fire, after all! (I speak with experience). So, before I did anything else when I sat down at my computer – I set a reminder in my Outlook Calendar to check the pizza. I set the reminder to go off in 15 minutes.

Only THEN was I (and the rest of my family and the neighborhood) safe to relax for 15 minutes and answer a few emails and write a few lines of CSS code before my computer popped up that reminder for me to take the pizza out of the oven.

I use Outlook’s calendar feature all the time. Billing reminders, business meetings, scheduled conference calls, deadlines, doctors appointments – you know, the usual important stuff. I also use it for all those little things I would completely forget about, if I allowed myself. I also set reminders and alarms on my cell phone to remind me of things while I’m out and about.

How I manage to remember to set the reminders….that takes much discipline on my part. But, it must be done!

See? Children with attention deficit disorder don’t need to be put on medication – – they just need to figure out how to compensate for their distractibility and develop habits that help them cope. Adults, parents and teachers need to help these kids find the tools in life that will help them cope with their distraction issues. That’s my mini Ritalin rant for the year.

Are you easily distracted? If so – what tools, if any, do you use to manage it? (assuming it’s a problem for you).

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12 thoughts on “Easily Distracted”

  1. That is a very practical and reasonable suggestion, Tim – thank for thinking of it for me. One less thing to put in the calendar, eh? @};-

  2. Right there with ya hon! I constantly use reminders on my cell phone. I’ve even started putting my 8th graders homework assignments on there too because I’d forget to remind her to turn them in on time. I used to set different timers in the kitchen to remind me but then I’d lose track of which timer was for what. It’s much easier with the phone.


  3. When I was single I quite often would forget the pizza/pies/whatever in the oven, so I got in the habit of setting reminders on my mobile (cell) phone, either with the countdown timer or setting an alarm.
    Now I am married the Wife just nags me to get off the computer and go dish up, but that may not be a helpful solution for you. 😉
    As for the boiling kettle, I also would advise getting an electric one, or a “whistler”. Though in both these cases make sure you remember to replace the lid after filling them, otherwise chaos may ensue. Never happened to me though, honest! :”>

  4. So I need to either get a tea kettle that whistles, or a wife that nags. Metephorically speaking – aren’t we talking about the same thing? ;;)

  5. Ha, Vicky! Now I can’t say that I’ve ever forgotten why or what I set the timer for — that’s good! Though, I do label my reminders with littel notes to remind me what the reminder is for..otherwise I’m SURE to forget! ~o)

  6. I use the timer on my microwave for that kind of thing, more than I actually use it to cook! I can hear it from just about any place in my house so it works great!

  7. For those little things that I just need to do, the Date Book app on my Palm-based Sony CLIE does the job sometimes. I also keep various little note papaers on my desk, but usually I don’t get around to doing the tasks listed on them.

  8. Being forgetful is only funny to an extent I realised when the dangerous forgetfulness had happened a few too many times. Most of the time when I forget something my partner laughs and he is always lovely and forgiving but i frighten myself sometimes. Those times I try not to let him know. To know I accidentally left a burning candle on a wooden table when I went for a walk would only cause worry. Anyhow, I realised I had to do something about how easily distracted I am. It is all very well to use crutches like reminders on the mobile phone, post-its etc but I am intending to learn to do without thus training my short term and working memory. Mindfulness, being present in the now etc…bla bla…Unless I get distracted I….
    *looks up, thinks flowers need watering so goes to fetch watering can in kitchen, forgets about watering can and makes a cup of tea instead*

  9. Sorry I forgot: My best memory aid, to help me remember short term things like actually eating the breakfast i made is to cross my fingers. It gives me a reminder that I need to remember something, once I remember to remember I usually know what I am remembering.
    best wishes

  10. Pingback: Productivity Secrets Project — Lisa Sabin-Wilson

  11. what about those of us that forget to to jot down those little reminders in the phone or computer!?!? I think im helpless >

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