Herein a recipe for producing what looks like some kind of careful long term reasonable insight into a question, but what is really a coping strategy for the complete inability to be attentive to anything for very long.
Be distracted away from the thing you are supposed to be doing; that part is pretty easy. Wander off randomly into the wilderness of recent changes to the Internet or a random page in your personal knowledge management heap or some long-dusty book in Google Books. Note some small fragment of something that isn't at all relevant to what everyone else seems to be looking at right now but that somehow temporarily holds your interest long enough to compose a few paragraphs with a few links. Write about it here; try with desperation to find a category it should already belong to so that it has some illusion of continuity with what you have been doing all along. Hit "save", hit "publish", and return to the task at hand.
Scatter your attention all over the Internet to a range of places where recent changes seem to be more predominant. Post to Twitter, or Facebook, or your favorite online newspaper's best reader comments section, or to some seasonally or topically appropriate blog where you know that the author welcomes your readership. Be outwardly visible and pay attention to someone else, something else, some place other than yourself. Make the rounds of the usual places and hit a few new ones. Stop before everyone is asleep.
Gather up things you have written on a topic, things captured during previous distractions or scattered to the four winds. If there is a search engine, search for your own long-forgotten commentary on something, and collect it back to somewhere central. If all you have is paper, leaf through it steadily and methodically until inevitably that journal yields a relevant fragment. Pile up the fragments, enumerate them, list them out carefully as though they were bits of papyrus needing careful reassembly. See what you might have known in the past and re-know it, relearn it.
Then, when all of the distract-scatter-gather process has all been put into motion, can you focus on that one thing you have been getting ready to do all this time. Come back to what you have gathered up and re-assess the work as a whole. Allow yourself to work methodically through the work you have gathered together, to pull it apart, to see what the whole set looks like and not just little bits of it. Pull through everything that is relevant and stitch it all together into something new, something that lasts longer than a simple short distraction but that hold and sustain a concentrated narrative with examples and ideas and themes and notions pulled out from a long time.
The whole process should run on some cycle appropriate for the task or the season. As I write, I think about the quarterly holiday of Discardia, where you celebrate letting go, and of all of the distracted and scattered thinking I have about that event that culminates in an every three months deliberate effort to tidy things up. The collected effort of pulling things together means not only that you have everything in mind but also that you can free yourself of the distractions that eventually got you here – and that you get, periodically, a chance to edit out some randomness and make it look like you are more organized and orderly than your easily-distracted nature would allow.
This season's Discardia holiday is coming up on June 20-22, 2009.