By Sondi Warner, Writer/Blogger for Wrought Iron Reads
At any given point, I have no less than two devices at my fingertips—my cellphone and laptop. Sometimes the i-Pad is also within reach. I’m running apps, listening to music and working. If I’m lucky, I’m away from home where the main distractions are people chatting at the next table over in Starbucks. Usually, I’m at home where three preteens and a four-year-old vie for supremacy in the Get Mommy’s Attention Wars.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d say my Distraction Potential is about a 100+.
Of course, begging clients to give me an extension because my kindergartener decided to feed her Baby Alive doll Jello, which required a trip to Wal-Mart for a replacement doll, isn’t exactly the way to keep clients. So, how do I get anything done in my distracted life?
Where my 4-year-old gets her play ideas…
I used to get in a frenzy when projects were due, griping all the way to the finish line about how unfair it was to juggle parenting and writing. It took a while to realize life—parenting or not—simply comes with distractions, and in order to rise above the fray, writers have to be ready to tune in, zone out and go with the flow.
Here are my suggestions for doing exactly that. The first step is realizing it’s not your distractions. It’s you. Kick these five distraction habits, and you’ll be well on your way to accomplishing your word count goals and getting the job done, no matter what life throws at you.
Get on Schedule: You can’t fly by the seat of your pants. You’ll crash.
One of the biggest daily time wasters is figuring out what you should be doing with your time. Instead of setting vague goals like, “I’ll write today,” try establishing a small, medium and large word-count goal for the day and setting a time frame to accomplish the work, such as:
“I’ll write 500, 1,000 or 3,000 words from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. today.”
If you’re like me, and you work on multiple projects at a time, block out what you should be doing with each hour to stay on top of your stuff. For example:
- Corresponding from 8 – 9 a.m.
- Marketing & Promoting from 9 – 11 a.m.
- Lunch from 11 – 12 p.m.
- Writing Project 1 from 12 – 2 p.m.
- Writing Project 2 from 2 – 4 p.m.
Get off Facebook: As much as you NEED social media…you don’t.
I spend about 18 hours a day checking my phone for updates. That MIGHT be an exaggeration, but it might not be. I never did the math. Imagine a workday where you don’t pause every fifteen minutes to see what everyone else is wasting time doing. Having difficulty with that? Turn your social media alerts off; see how much more you can accomplish.
As a writer, social media outreach is vital. You can’t afford to deactivate your pages just to get some work done. But, you can limit the minutes disappearing into the Facebook vortex by creating Social Media Hours.
Schedule one to two consecutive hours a day to do all your updating, post scheduling, group interaction and inbox chatting. When your time is up, step away from the temptation. Believe it or not, you’ll feel less obligated to keep your finger ready to tap that F-button or little birdie. You’ll also discover the freedom you used to have before social media networking took over your life. You’ll definitely have more time to focus on doing what you do best: writing.
Invest in a Watch: Remember those things?
Here’s another way to keep the phone out of your hand. Invest in a watch. When you look at it to check the time, there won’t be any text messages to draw your attention. No news article to pull you down the rabbit hole. No weather updates to scroll through, as if you care. There will only be time tick-tick-ticking away in reminder you have work to do.
This will also help you stay on schedule. Seeing you’re down to your last fifteen minutes of writing will boost you to get more done. Or, you can set an alarm for each break period so you can know when to stretch your legs and give your eyes a rest.
Get one of those trusty old plastic digital ones before the smart-watches make them obsolete. 🙂
Ditch the Headphones: Write now. Party later.
I like to jam out with earbuds tucked in my ears while I write my super dope contemporary romance masterpieces like Deserving. It makes me look cool. It doesn’t, however, help me get much writing done.
While the body is primed to tune out normal background noise, it hears your favorite song as something to dance or sing along to. You’ll find yourself bobbing your head and humming the melody but doubling back to re-read what you just typed.
I recommend ditching the headphones to fully immerse yourself in your world building and character development. I promise you’ll do more writing and less pausing to belt out the lyrics to Justin Bieber’s sweet new hit. (Don’t act like you don’t sing Justin Bieber. Fill in the blank: Is it too late now to say _______?)
Clock-Out on Time: (Note to self.)
Living in a world of distractions makes it easy to forget you actually have a life. In all your getting, get off the clock when it’s time. Whatever you haven’t accomplished for today will have to wait until tomorrow, which will motivate you to stay on task next round so you can get more done.
Do these tips seem helpful to you? Give me your suggestions for cutting down on distractions and getting back to the writing in the comment section below or Tweet me @WIRUniverse, #GluttonForDistractions. Happy writing!