Rapid Distraction Management
Getting things done requires intense focus on the task at hand. Accomplishment demands tenacious attention to one's work. Whatever your work or pursuit is, this is fundamental. Much time and ink has been spent on the subject of time management and this is useful in so far as it goes. But the most important thing is not to have a perfect calendar scheduled but rather to actually get things done. Getting things done requires setting aside time to do the work but setting aside the time is not enough. Another element of managing one's self is managing your attention, i.e. attention-management! One must combine the time with the attention to achieve intense, fierce focus to accomplish something worthwhile.
The main problem in managing attention is the multitude of distractions which interrupt our workflow. Some distractions are people who knock on the door to ask a question, other distractions come from all the media we've left open (email, phones, browser, mp3 player, etc.), and other distractions are the sort which pop up in our work (tangential thoughts, questions you might ask others, potential obstacles). All of these are problems which will arise in the midst of our workflow so one must have methods thought out in advance to handle them in order to keep on task.
Thus a person must be ready to rapidly address any potential distraction in the moment and be unafraid to put it down in order to stay focused. This is not just about other people it is about you and whether you can be browsing and have the ability to discern as fast as possible whether something is useful or not. You can't follow every line of research and you can't read up on everything. So one must be able to rapidly discern if something is a distraction and stop it, now.
And when it comes to people, others may call you surly but they won't mind so much if you actually keep your word, meet your deadlines, and get things done. This is not to say that you have to be surly about it, but you can't let that person stand in the door and talk forever. Don't be afraid to close that door occasionally or keep standing meetings standing.
The other great area of distraction onslaught is in moving from area of work to another. For instance, if you are trying to work a full-time job and complete a degree this is a big deal. It means that one has to be that much better and dealing with distractions and create tactics and plan for getting from area A to area B. You must streamline the path from A to B.
I'm not saying all of life is work, but if you think your work is important at all, or if you'd like to accomplish something while you are here, you must have tactics ready to deal with all the distraction and manage your attention.