Pushing Rope Day

“I’ve got to concentrate… [his thoughts echo] concentrate… concentrate… I’ve got to concentrate… concentrate… concentrate… Hello?… hello… hello… Echo… echo… echo… Pinch hitting for Pedro Borbon… Manny Mota… Mota… Mota…”
Ted Striker, thinking to himself, in Airplane! (1980)

Yesterday was one of these “pushing rope” days — no matter what you start you cannot concentrate on it for more than a few seconds. It’s like the Chaos logo of Warhammer — arrows going out from a center point in all directions — thoughts are absolutely unfocused and cannot concentrate on one point.

After realizing this I did what I would do when I cannot do a specific task on a creative project — I switched to another group of tasks. I started to do those little tasks that I have to do, but are usually not done until the very last moment. Things like up/downloading the presentations of my course, adding some information to my wiki, going through some files, sorting literature, etc. I went early (i.e., on time) and went to the hairdresser (something I had to do for a long time). When I got home I continued with these little tasks (for me, a “pushing rope” day makes no difference between work and private projects), for example, I finally lowered a side board by replacing the original pillars with two boxes of 2500 pages of white paper (one process in the back of my brain was searching for something to replace the pillars with, and it mentioned that the boxes we have at work would fit, so I ordered the cheapest paper I could find on Amazon, had it delivered to my home — and hey, it worked! ;-)), found a way to reenter my apartment without removing my shoes if I have forgotten something, etc. pp.

At least it was still a productive day (and I don’t feel like a fraud at work), but I am curious — What do you do when you know that you cannot concentrate on (the main part of) your work?