Is this how brains work?

I offered to help our neighbors with some home improvement projects, so this morning after I did some yard work and had the tools ready, I texted asking if now would be a good time to help.

My neighbor Carly said yes, but she was putting her kiddo down for a nap, so she needed a minute.

I decided to take a shower, get dressed, grab tools, then head over to help Carly.

Getting ready to shower I saw we needed laundry done, so I planned to take a shower, get dressed, start a load of laundry, grab tools, then head over to help Carly.

When I got out of the shower I saw we had a lot of dust bunnies in the room so I decided I should get dressed, vacuum the dust bunnies, start a load of laundry, grab tools, then head over to help Carly.

When I started the laundry I saw a pair of jeans that had been line drying since last time I did laundry, so I decided to fold my jeans, grab tools, put my jeans away, then head over to help Carly.

The moment I headed over to Carly’s I was focused on the work done (rehanging some baby gates that had come down) until I finished. I wasn’t distracted at all, because I had the work in front of me and each step was clear what I had to do, even when that was going back to get more tools, and while I was doing that, getting Karen a file so she could file down a rough edge on her new glasses.

My observations:

  • When I had even a few moments where I had to wait, I instantly started filling it up with other things I could/should be doing. And those things kept piling up, each taking precedence in my mind (if not my order of operations) until they were done.
  • When I was focused on work however, everything was step by step. Figure out the problem, propose a plan, evaluate it, do some testing, implement the plan, test the results, adjust as needed. I didn’t know all the steps from the start, but each step was clear, and more importantly I wasn’t waiting, so my brain didn’t start thinking up new things to distract me or change my priorities. Even when I got an interrupt request (pick up a file when I’m in the garage) it didn’t derail me.

It felt like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie but in reverse. I didn’t have the forethought to know I would keep coming up with new things to do, but before I could ever finish one task, I thought of another one that caused me to pause, and reorder my plans. Except when I was focused on a single task…then I just did it.

This is how I end up a night with my pants half way off and looking up something on my phone, thinking I need to brush my teeth, and wondering what I have to do tomorrow morning.

Is this how brains work?

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