Squirrel!

Photo courtesy of Ed McDonald (Creative Commons)

Photo courtesy of Ed McDonald (Creative Commons)

Ever have those days when you are so scatter brained, you wonder if you can even make it through the day in one piece? Every little distraction pulls you from what you were doing, and before long, you have a trail of unfinished tasks. Ugh.

For me, I find it most often happens after a restless night or a stressful day (or week). I feel like my poor brain is just mush and can’t even hold a thought for 2 seconds. There’s not enough coffee in the world to make this better!

I haven’t found a quick fix for this distraction either. One important thing is to lower my expectations for myself for the day – or at least the morning – because otherwise I will end up sinking into a spiral of negativity that makes the situation worse.

Choosing some straightforward things to focus on seems to help too. Starting with a simple task, with a clear result, without a lot of need for decision-making, can help get me back on track. If I’m able, exercise like yoga or running is a good start too, because the physical activity and the deep breathing help clear the cobwebs and scatter the fuzziness in my brain.

Certainly no complicated tasks or projects should be first on the list, as this will just lead to even more confusion.

Another way to combat the squirrel syndrome is to make a list – just write all the things that are coming to mind and get them off my mind as David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, suggests. Just let it flow until you can’t think of anything else, and then later you can go back and process it all. You might find a few simple tasks in the list that can be handled and marked off.That always brings some relief.

Buried in your list, you will likely find the culprit of the squirrel syndrome. You will probably find the one task or project that is most disturbing, most overwhelming, most frightening – and that may be causing all your trouble. Once you can break that down into your first action step and either do it or get it on your calendar, your brain can let go and get back to normal.

How do you combat the distraction of squirrel syndrome?