When I taught high school, my students often claimed that they worked best when there was noise. Studies of today's teens confirm that they can indeed text, listen to music, and surf the Net all at once, but I have to admit, as the song of my generation says, "It ain't me, babe."

I like quiet. I like to be able to focus on the task at hand. And it's getting worse as time goes by. As a teacher, I was quite the multi-tasker, and I could keep in my head a dozen things I had to accomplish within a class period as well as a dozen more I hoped to tackle in the next day. And my brain was always organizing the month ahead as well, so that as important events neared, I had almost automatically compiled an agenda and a list of what was needed.

These days I'd better be writing it down, and I have to say to myself periodically, "Okay, what's coming up that you should be planning for?" Instead of being automatic, it's manual, and sometimes even reluctant planning.

It's the riot part. There's so much to do that my thoughts have become noisy ... and naggy. Have I called that bookstore I was going to get back to? Do I want to place that ad? Should I try to tweak my website with that new product? It's like a radio playing in the background, distracting me from my current job, formatting my second book for my editors.

Someone told me that the best book is the first one, and I can see the truth of that. It's the quiet phase, when you have all the time in the world to complete it and no marketing yet. All subsequent books have competition for the time you give them, since you're marketing the one that's out, signings, talks, publicity, all those chat groups you joined for networking, and on and on and on. Noisy. Not quiet.
So what I try to do is focus on one thing at a time. When I get a moment of quiet, I make lists. Then I work at whittling them down as time allows, doing things that need focus when I can get the time and the rest whenever.

All that means that as soon as I've posted this, I'm going to polish a couple more chapters. It's early in the morning, and I've got the quiet needed for that particular job.

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