Raise your hand if you no longer trust yourself to remember everything you need to do. Keep your hand up if you’re so entrenched in knee-jerk reaction mode that the moment a “quick little task” pops into your head, you drop whatever you’re doing and take care of it right away lest it slip through the cracks.
For the record, my own hand is very much raised. I’m so paranoid about forgetting the little things that I’ll interrupt a perfectly good deep-work state just to put granola on the grocery list. Or send a book to my daughter’s Kindle. Or some other inconsequential thing that was totally not worth ruining my flow for. (I’ve already done it three times today.)
It’s an easy trap to fall into. Our lives are brimming with distractions: pings from teammates, family, or roommates milling around the house; current events, and our ever-present anxiety about them; the internet meme du jour. Unless we make deliberate choices about what to focus on at any given moment, it’s virtually impossible to get anything meaningful don–