Thursday, July 31, 2008

Excuses and Nonexcuses for Lack of Focus

You know you should be focusing on Project A but you'd prefer to be doing something else. What is a valid excuse for distraction? Well, some excuses are time-tested and others are almost too weak to mention.
  1. War. The mega-excuse because it gives entire groups the excuse to refocus elsewhere. The priority that trumps all others. People won't quibble about your lawn not being mown when things are blowing up and buildings are falling.
  2. Severe illness. This may even trump War but it can't be faked and it must be severe. Being out with the flu for four days is a mere temporary excuse. Having a serious illness, however, merits the cutting of a lot of slack. Anyone who hassles you when you're severely ill is a troll.
  3. Severe illness of a loved one. Right up there with #2. Many of us would be more disoriented by this than by our own illness.
  4. Car problems. Are you kidding? You're distracted by a radiator? Get out of here!
  5. Computer problems? These may disrupt work but they shouldn't shut down thought. A mere temporary excuse. Emulate Hannibal and find a way or make a way.
  6. Interruptions. This is no excuse unless you're training apprentices. Shut the door and don't answer the phone. Suspend the open door policy. It can be done.
  7. Disruptive boss. This can be a big excuse, but why haven't you found a hiding place?
  8. Romantic entanglements. You are experiencing ennui because your boyfriend or girlfriend found someone else? We'll be gentle, but this is all the more reason for you to focus on a priority that won't go away.
  9. Creativity. We know you're brilliant and can come up with twelve other great ideas. Just get this job done first.
  10. Procrastination. Ten points for honest self-analysis. Take a break, but come back to work - and focus - in an hour.

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