When I was in graduate school, we students had a running joke that there was nothing like a dissertation hanging over your head to ensure that you had a sparking clean apartment. Writing a chapter? Cleaning a toilet? The toilet would win every time.
In those days, I made to-do lists each morning. I would go over the list at night and feel pretty good that I had accomplished 70% or 80% of the items. After a while, I noticed that the two or three things NOT getting done were dissertation items, the very items that I said were the most important to me.
So. despite my love of checking things off lists, I made a new plan. My new list would only consist of items that got me closer to finishing my dissertation. My apartment got a little dirtier. I got a little fatter. But I earned my Ph.D.
Sometimes, the secret to success is knowing what to ignore.