Oof, ever since I linked to that great article on Multitasking, I've been really trying to stop doing it. It takes every bit of willpower I have (which, frankly, is not very much). I remember in college typing other people's term papers for money, while listening to a song, singing the lyrics, and thinking about something else entirely. I believe that my mind is wired to multitask. Still, I can see the points made in that article, and these days I'm really trying to focus.
One of the things that trips me up is any time I have to wait for my computer to do something (say, like sync the iPad). It only takes 15 or 20 seconds, but my natural inclination is not to wait, never to wait, but instead, to go check my email or Twitter or anything, while it's updating. The problem is I get engaged in the new thing and follow it for a bit, and though I know I'm supposed to go back to the iPad to check the test, I can't always remember what miniscule thing I was testing. Not good.
But how to deal with the plethora of minutiae that rolls through my head demanding attention? Ignoring it would be to ignore one of my best skills: paying attention to minutiae. Still, I get that I can't jump from one tiny detail to another disparate one and back without losing some depth. So, I'm keeping a list right in front of me. I get an idea, I write it down instead of following it right that second. I remember something I have to add to this book I'm writing, I write it down, instead of researching it right then. And I doggedly stick to the task at hand—which I can't deny is downright excruciating. (This seems to directly contradict the Getting Things Done mantra of not making lists, doing things when you think of them, etc., or perhaps I've never read enough into it, but I don't care.)
When I reach a real breaking point in the focused task, then I let myself stop, look at the list, plow through it one by one. This blog post was on that list!