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Tell us your tried and true techniques for focusing when that deadline looms and you need to get work done. In other words, how do you avoid wasted days and wasted nights?

Tunnel vision. I’m stuck in the middle with … my work. I will walk over obstacles in my way to get to the goal.

The only way I can really get through something important which requires my full attention is to take everything and everyone else off of my radar. I can be quite snippy with others when I’m focused. I follow a rigid pattern, and get a bit irritated when I’m disturbed. There’s a reason for this: I have generalized anxiety disorder and that means I spend far too much time in my head, weighing decisions, trying to determine what to do first, next, today, tomorrow, and arranging and rearranging my daily schedule; and I also have been diagnosed in my advanced age with ADD (they didn’t know about that when I was a kid). and that explains a lot of my behavior and problems with finishing what I start, or procrastinating. On my own, I realized my deficiencies at some point in my young adulthood, and have worked hard to address them. Wanting to keep a job and do well at it, whatever it’s been, has required me to learn coping mechanisms, and reprimand and re-orient myself when I start getting off-track or if I find I’m questioning myself too much about my actions and decisions.

I have to be hard on myself when I need to deal with a deadline. I have to stick with it, usually at the expense of other things. But at least I get things done this way. I generally find that I have to set a goal for myself each day and keep a schedule, especially now that I’m retired. Left to my own devices, I do jump from task to task, leaving myself with a lot of things unfinished. I find this frustrating, and I do get rather angry at myself sometimes. I have so many ideas and possibilities in my mind that I react to them before thinking through how and when I’m going to do them.

I did learn something several years ago that’s worked well for me: I don’t make a to do list, I simply have one task a day that I must accomplish. People like me tend to make lists that are unrealistic, and then end up disappointed in themselves. If there’s only one important item on the list, then everything else is a bonus. (Now, I’m not talking about the things I do daily like housework, cooking, shopping), but might include paying all the bills and checking out the checking account, going to buy the paint I need for my bedroom, painting my bedroom, packing and shipping a box to my daughter, or making travel arrangements, etc. I’ve passed on the one-item-list to my children, because I find it much each to feel a sense of accomplishment then I do feeling disappointment. Then anything else I complete each day is a bonus!