I like to have things a certain way when I sit down to work. Or, perhaps I should say I work better when things are as follows:
My desk is clean and my inbox is empty.
I have a to-do list (this is my polite version of “I know what the heck I am supposed to be doing and don’t have to dig through 18 stacks of paper to locate pertinent information.”)
I have a block of uninterrupted time (this is to say I turn off my cell phone ringer, shut my office door and tell my kids unless someone under my direct care has a brain-bleed, they should warp said brains with a new episode of Toddlers and Tiaras and leave me be.)
I have eliminated the other two things most likely to pull me away from my desk: first, the need to offset the effects of what drinking four cups of coffee does to my bladder, and the need to offset ravenous hunger that hits approximately every two hours. I think I may have a tapeworm.
Once these things are set in motion, I do my best work. What has to be just so for you to do your best work? Is there ever a time you have to muddle through in less-than-ideal circumstances, and if so, what are your coping strategies (turning up music in my office is one of mine. Muffles an extraordinary amount of noise. Also, setting a full inbox on the floor and covering it with a cute bag. I’m just being honest here.)