Scatter Brained

by | Oct 5, 2013 | Blog Challenge, Tools | 13 comments

Focus_Scatter_BrainedI’ve been online for less than 15 minutes today and already I’ve dropped the ball 3 times. I came online to do 1 thing, and one thing only. But I can’t remember what it is.  It’s more obvious to me than normal, because today is my day off! And I’m not meant to be on my laptop at all right now.

But I can’t even remember why I’m here.

And I crave a solution. A little box on the top right hand corner of my laptop that shows the time & WHAT I’m here to work on. I need a reminder in my visual view.  Yes, I probably should have written down what the task was, but my hands were on the keyboard (or my first cup of coffee) and yes, the first time I forgot (and found a reminder in something else I’d floated to) I probably should have gone straight there and finished it. But, what happened instead is that I tried to open a chrome window & it wouldn’t load.  The error message asked me to install something & when I did, another update came through & invited me to read more on their blog. And I did.

Aah! There it is.  I remember the task

check bank balance & transfer funds to….

21 minutes after I logged on to do this one task… because now I have 11 tabs open looking for tools I can use to help me actually stay on track and not forget, yet again.

So, instead of wasting all of this time, I thought I’d share with you what I’ve found.

A resource of tools (that will probably distract you – sorry) that may, or may not, keep you focused on your daily tasks.

The First Thing:

The very first thing I need to do is “pause my inbox”.  Because the moment I see a new message I want to check it.  I’m using “inbox pause” to help. But it’s not quite enough, because I often don’t remember to “click the button” to actually pause the inbox.

inbox pause example

The Second Thing:

The second thing I’ve done is opened and chosen the Pomodoro Technique (work for 25 minutes, take a 5 minute break) and started writing this blog post.  It’s a great idea, but I need to remember to actually open up the website and start the timer.  It’s pretty tough to remember, but maybe making it my default browser would work?

The Third Thing:

The third thing I’m trying today is…. pulling together all of these references (to read later?)

Best  articles I’ve found on this topic:

  1.  100 Best Tools to get organized –
  2. 3 Web Tools for Staying Focused –
  3. 10 Online Tools for Better Attention –
  4. Timer tool for staying on Task –


Highlights for me (the ones I’ll use this week from this resource list)

1.  Rescue Time  PC/Mac free or $6/mo

Every time you switch to a new window, RescueTime resets the clock but keeps a running tally that creates a comprehensive picture of how you use your computer.

2.   Time Out – Take regular breaks to keep your focus sharp.

3.  Focus Writer it’s a freeware download for Mac/PC/Linux (suggested tip amount $5) – I’ll let you know how this works in another post.  (this one autosaves, unlike Ommwriter, which I loved, until I lost my work when my laptop battery jiggled loose last week).

Note: If you download Focus Writer, make sure to go into preferences & check off “auto save”. It’s an option, but not automatically turned on.  Turn on the typewriter sounds at the same time? I especially love the sound of the “return key”

Mac Users only:

  1.  – interestingly, it tracks what music you were listening to in itunes when you were most productive today.
  2. – fades out your screen when it’s time to take a break

I do wish I had found a timer with more of a game element built in! Something I could race to the finish line.  Plus, I didn’t end up finding one that would be upfront and center. Something I wouldn’t forget to use after the initial novelty wears off (as in tomorrow?)

How Do You Stay Focused?   What apps are you using to keep yourself on track?


I’ve been given a badge today by Ramon Williamson in celebration of completing my 200th blog post (the one you’re reading right now)

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  1. Gwynne Montgomery

    I use to help organize my thoughts. And I’m working out a to-do system. I’m still struggling to get focus myself!

  2. Delia

    Congrats Loralee on post #200, quite the accomplishment! I actually find that what helps me to stay focused is not yet another app or technology thingy.

    When I need to write a post for example, the best thing I can do to finish it is to go on WordPress write-only mode and just write. I do not think about how long it takes me or how much time has passed. I only tell to myself you’ve got this and you’ll get it done soon 🙂

  3. Erin S

    Great suggestions. I had NO IDEA that you could pause your inbox! I will most definitley use this to be more intentional about focusing on what I am working on. Thank you! Congrats on post #200!

  4. Amanda HelmiBM

    Haha, your post made me laugh out loud. I think we all need a separate computer purely for writing and one for fun..I get so distracted by everything. Thank you

  5. Bonnie Copeland

    Ah…I do this all of the time. One thing that I have used for year and is still my best tool is a small pad of paper with a written to-do list. I have to say a timer might be pretty interesting to keep me on track. It also might be scary to find out how much time I actually waste getting sidetracked.
    Thanks for feting out those tools and sharing them with us.

  6. Amina

    Are you talkin’ to me? How interesting that many people go through the same experiences thinking that they are alone. thank you for sharing and finding great solutions! Congrats on this 200 post with many hundreds more to come 🙂

  7. Ann Covey

    First, Loralee

    … congratulations on your 200th post!

    I love Rescue Time, though this is not a public admission that I need it.

    I also love the way you laid out this post with related articles and resources.

    Here’s to 200 more!

    ~ Ann Covey

  8. Alana Mautone

    I love how you turned a frustrating situation into a rewarding one with a little research. I could see myself right there – and I couldn’t help but laugh a little. (sorry!) I tweeted this and intend to pin it to my Blogging board on Pinterest, just to remind me. Incidentally, i didn’t know anything about the Pause feature of gmail – if I can organize myself enough to have extra time, I intend to investigate gmail’s features more. Thank you!

  9. Christine

    hehe i love that you can get the tools to do all these fabulous things, but you need to remember to use them. Great list of tools though, will definately give some a try! thanks

  10. Joanne

    I wrote about organization today too. I actually went to a conference and saw Marcia Ramsland. One of the strategies that she taught us was to write down a to do list and then put it on our calendar of when we planned to attack it. So, now not just the appointments get done, but everything on the list. I am going to start using this with my gmail calendar and see how it works out.

  11. Malika Bourne

    Why am I laughing at your forgetfulness? Sounds like you are talking about me, but I forget. Maybe I need a tool like this just to go the kitchen.
    Really, this sounds like a helpful tool.

    • Loralee

      Still on the hunt for one that can turn this scatter brained nonsense into a game 🙂 And I hear you! Why on earth did I just walk into the kitchen? Sticky notes on my forehead maybe? I’m not sure! I blame it on multi-tasking too much.