13 Tips for Preventing Distractions
by Jody Calkins
Distractions play a big role in preventing us from accomplishing our goals. When we are up against self-doubt, procrastination, fear, or any other form of resistance, we can't afford to let ourselves be distracted by anything else. We're already struggling with completing our writing projects and accomplishing our writing goals to begin with. Distractions are just another way to keep us from those goals.
I've been talking a lot on this blog and on social media about setting a schedule and making the most of that writing schedule. So, today I want to talk about some things you can do to help prevent distractions from occurring and keeping you off course. This list is not exhaustive, but it will give you a starting point to finally accomplishing your writing goals.
Turn the phone off.
This is one of the biggest distractions for me as we get a lot of egg customers calling throughout the day. In a previous post, I mentioned that I now only respond to phone calls and voicemails at a set time every day. Turning the phone off helps me forget about the phone so I don't have to dwell on and feel guilty about not answering the call. I suggest you do the same if you want to accomplish your writing goals. It will help you stay focused so you can get your writing done.
Set the ground rules (with family, neighbors, friends).
Once you've decided on your new schedule and your ground rules, you need to get them across to everyone else, otherwise interruptions will continue. While it might seem a little awkward bringing everyone together for a meeting about your new rules, it's best to get it out of the way before you blow up at them for doing what they've always done.
Stay calm and get it across to them that you work on writing projects every day and you don't have time to drop them. This works even better if you're on deadline!
Take care of nagging tasks.
All of those little tasks that nag you during your writing schedule should be completed before you start your session. Make sure that the pets are fed and have plenty of water, the litter box is cleaned out, they can't get into anything or knock dishes off the counter.
If you have a dog, keep him on a schedule. I keep mine on a schedule and it usually works well. He goes outside in the morning around 6:30 for about 30 minutes, comes back in for his breakfast and sleeps on the couch until I get out of my office (1:30). Then I feed him his lunch, take him outside, and leave him out for the rest of the afternoon (if it's not windy or cold).
Turn your doorbell ringer off.
If you have people coming to your house frequently (and even if you don't), turn your ringer off during your writing session. This will keep you from getting thrown off course in your writing when someone comes to the door unexpectedly.
Put a "sorry we missed you" sign on your front door.
This will prevent visitors from knocking or ringing the doorbell, and works fairly well if you have a dog.
Close your email client.
Another huge distraction for me is the compulsion to check my email, so I've learned to close my email client. If you insist on keeping your email client open, turn the email notification off.
Turn your Internet or social media tools off.
Give yourself some ground rules for the Internet and social media and stay focused on your writing. Checking Twitter or Facebook one last time won't do you any favors. It will keep you from accomplishing your writing goals. If you need to take a break, take a quick 5 to 10 minute break and take a walk outside.
Keep a drink and food handy.
To avoid getting up to go to the kitchen in search of food, have some snacks available at your workspace. But don't sit there eating for long, just grab a cracker or whatever you have, and move on with your writing.
Close the curtains.
If looking out the window is too distracting, close the curtains. It will help you stay focused on your writing project. Install "noise reduction" curtains if outside noise distracts you.
Close all unnecessary programs.
Keeping your unnecessary programs closed during your writing session will prevent you from getting distracted. It works even better if you hide your taskbar.
Close your office door.
An open door is an open invitation for people to come in and interrupt you. Keep it closed during your work schedule.
Practice self-discipline and patience.
Be true to yourself and allow yourself to accomplish your writing goals by practicing self-discipline and patience.
Practice the art of ignoring distractions.
Distractions are sometimes unpreventable and unavoidable, and can lead to stress that interferes with your writing. Practice ignoring the distraction and calming yourself with deep breathing, meditation, and saying, "woosa."
Stress won't get you far in your writing career. Neither will dwelling on negative things that use up your energy. Focus on positive things, like how good you will feel when you start achieving your writing goals.
About the Author: Jody Calkins is a writer and editor with 15 years of experience. She helps businesses and independent writers enhance their writing work, and her work includes editing business documents and marketing materials such as articles, case studies, newsletters, and reports, as well as editing short stories, articles, and books (both fiction and nonfiction).
Writing well is all about providing professional material that offers value to readers, content that readers love or find helpful.
For more information on Jody's editing or copy editing services, please visit https://www.emeryroad.com or write to her here.
Photo Credit: Sergio Roberto Bichara