And I’d love to meet your friend! What a great role model and inspiration. Some day you can be that for others.
Your second bit can be a little more tricky. Second, I think she would tell me to be true to myself and not be distracted by tasks other people present to me.
Yes, you do need to be true to yourself and not let yourself get distracted, but sometimes in our jobs, we must do what our boss says. However, often we have more control than we realize. Sometimes the issue is just setting the right boundaries that support our efficiency (and therefore our value to our company). A conversation with your boss can sometimes make a difference. There are a lot of other ways to go about that, too from just letting everyone know that you don’t want to be disturbed for the next hour, closing your door, or putting on headphones (without music). People may kick and scream for a bit until they get used to it, but they’ll often come to appreciate it when they know it’s for the overall best.
In other cases, it’s not the boss interrupting us with stuff to do, but it has to do with ourselves setting priorities at the beginning of the day for what we need to get done for our own job role. If people in the office have a problem with you not being at their beck and call as has been the case, you can explain that constantly being interrupted keeps you behind and affects the big picture. (You can even pull out research that says that it takes us 20 minutes to recover from a distraction.) You can take the blame off yourself by saying that you’re taking a course on productivity and want to try out some of their ideas. Maybe they’d like to try this idea, too…. 🙂