It can be frustrating to concentrate on a project and then get distracted by an idea for another project. You can build structure around eliminating physical distractions (such as phone calls, email, and people), but it’s much harder to eliminate the distractions in your own head!

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The Challenge

You’re working on a project and an unrelated thought pops into your head. Your attention immediately switches to that new idea, abandoning the project you started. (Of course the new idea is more fun . . . it’s new!)

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The Solution

The next time you are distracted by the thoughts in your own head, utilize the Parking Lot technique. A parking lot is piece of paper where you write down (“park”) every idea that comes into your head, as soon as it enters your head. (You can also use one Post -It note per idea if you prefer.)

Once you finish what you’re working on, you can look at all the ideas in the parking lot and decide on the next task you want to complete. NOTE: This is not a to-do list, just a place to park things for later. Often there will be ideas on this list that do not need further action, they just needed to get out of your head!

Internet – Instead of opening a new browser each time an idea pops into your head, jot the ideas down, finish the current online task, then open a tab for one of the tasks you identified on the parking lot.

Project – While working on a project and you think of an idea for another project. Instead of continuing to think about this project, write down your thoughts in the parking lot, and continue working on the initial idea.

Meeting – During a meeting or presentation, place any questions, strategy suggestions, and other important (but unrelated) ideas into the parking lot until the appropriate time. Questions may be answered throughout the talk and if not, you have captured them for review at the end.

Webinars – Since webinars are often “anonymous” it’s easier to multi-task while listening. The speaker says something that reminds you that you need to pay your cell phone bill, so you open a browser to pay the bill and stop listening to the speaker. Instead, park it – and listen!

Simple solutions like the Parking Lot can make a world of difference in your productivity – and therefore your capacity! This technique is my gift to you – because this “I’m so busy feeling” is NO FUN! You can easily do a “brain dump” and get your priorities in order.

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