Garden Attention Distraction Syndrome (GADS) is a common affliction amongst gardeners. Whenever I post about it, I get a few comments from others saying they have it, too.
You might have GADS if you’ve ever gone out into your garden to do one thing, maybe something simple like dump a basket of plant trimmings into the compost bin, and you see something that needs attention, like a big weed that needs to be pulled, and you think, “Gads, I need to pull that weed.”
Then you pull that weed and see something else to be done, like maybe there are some zinnias that call out to be cut to be brought inside. “Gads, those are so pretty.” So you go get your pruners and cut the zinnias and bring them inside and find a vase for them. Then you see out of the corner of your eye that the house plants need some water. “Gads, I had better water those house plants.”
You find your watering can, fill it with water, water the house plants and some of the water gets on the floor. That leads you to decide to go ahead and clean up the entire floor. By then it is night time and there isn’t enough day light to go back out to the garden to do what you had started to do in the first place.
The next day you go outside and you see that the bushel basket of trimmings you were going to take out to the compost bin yesterday is still sitting right next to where you pulled that big weed. You think, “Gads, I need to dump that in the compost bin.”
You’ve come full circle through an attack of GADS.
I assure you that you can have attacks of GADS even in the winter when all your gardening is indoors. How do I know? See that picture above of the plastic tub of trimmings from the day I repotted the aloe plants? Let’s just say it took a few days for me to get back to it and take it out to the compost bin.
There are no cures that I know of but here are some suggestions to maintain focus in the garden.
Set aside time for puttering in your garden. Flit about from task to task and do whatever you think needs to be done, but don’t start any big projects. Yes, basically you are setting aside time to just enjoy a full-fledged GADS attack on your garden. Enjoy it! Set no expectations, just go for it.
Likewise, set aside time for the big projects in your garden. Put on the blinders and focus in on finishing the project. Easier said than done, but with some practice, you can do it.
Always take your pruners with you when you go out in the garden, or have them nearby in your sunroom in the winter time. This way, if you see something that needs to be snipped or cut back, you can do it right away. You won’t have to go back for your pruners and encounter three or four other distractions on your path to and from wherever your pruners are. It helps to have a holster to keep your pruners at your side.
Put tools away when you are done with them. If you don’t know where “home” is for the pruners, for example, you can spend a lot of time on negative GADS activities, like looking for them. “Gads, where did I put those pruners?” And while you are looking for whatever tool you need, you’ll encounter numerous other distractions to feed your GADS.
Carry around a little notebook and pencil with you when you are in the garden and write down new “gads, I need to do that” tasks when you think of them and then do them later. No, fellow garden bloggers and family members, I do not do this! This is for really obsessive compulsive people, who, come to think of it, probably don’t have GADS to begin with anyway.
But even if you don’t carry a little notebook into the garden with you, if you have an extreme case of GADS, you might find it useful to make a list of what you want to do before you go out into the garden. Then when you get distracted, and you know you will, you can refer back to the list to remind yourself about what you should have been doing in the first place.
My favorite way to overcome GADS? I don’t try to fight it anymore. I just go with the flow of GADS, and see where it leads me. Try it. It’s kind of fun to see where you end up!