Blogger: Rachel Kent
I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of experience with distractions! I have had to find ways to work around mine and put them into their proper places and I have some tips to pass along to you (and I’d love to hear yours!).
1) It’s good to ask for help! If you struggle with getting work done with your kids around, don’t be afraid to ask for help! Find a sitter or a loving grandparent and ask for them to watch your children away from your house once- or twice-a-week so you can have some distraction-free time that you can count on.
2) Have a place you can go to work away from your home. Find a place that works for you. If you can’t write at Starbucks because it’s too loud, find a different place where you are productive. If you have nice weather, a neighborhood park could be nice–and that also limits your internet access and helps get you away from the online distractions.
3) Have set days for your chores around the house. Scheduling the house and yard work will help you to maximize your time and it helps to keep the house in better shape–at least it has for me! Trying to cram every chore into the weekends just leads to burn out and then the writing doesn’t get done.
4) Only allow yourself to look at your phone/social media during real breaks. If you stop for lunch, take that time to check in to your online life or to play your Words with Friends game, but don’t allow yourself to constantly be distracted by your games or social media. Turn off all notifications that might buzz or ring during your work time. I haven’t turned off my phone yet, but that’s not a bad idea either!
5) Give up watching some of your shows. You’ll find you don’t really miss them once you aren’t watching them!
Breaking bad habits is always hard at first, but the reward comes with the increased productivity!
How do you overcome your distractions?
Describe your biggest distraction in four words. Mine is “two with big personality!”
After a work day bookended by my long commute, my biggest distraction is–IN JUST A MINUTE. Like the last minute of a football game, it takes forever.
Lord, grant me victory over my distractions so I can write something so engaging that my readers are not easily distracted. Amen.
Commuting must be so hard! Do you listen to audio books as you drive? I think that’s what I would do.
The last minute of a football game CAN take forever! 🙂
Rachel, I get sucked in by distractions too. One thing I’ve done this year is put my wiritng time into my calendar like an appointment. And then I schedule other things around that writing time (chores, lunches with friends, etc).
My biggest distraction: EMAIL, FACEBOOK ONLINE NEWS. I’ve got to re-establish the habit of turning off the internet when I’m writing. My boys can be a distraction at night when I’m trying to work. I just re-established some boundaries for them. We’ll see if they heed said boundaries. 🙂
I get sucked in to online news, too! And I find that a lot of the articles I click on I would have been fine without reading. It’s a hard habit to break!
Kristen Joy Wilks
I am so distracted by facebook and by…agent blogs. But I love you guys…I just might need to not stop by to read all the comments when I’m in the middle of writing. I have three young boys and I do not even try to write if they are conscious, what I do is take 8-9 in the evening to watch something with my hubby and then go to bed and wake up at 4:00am. I am not a morning person…at all! But this is the only thing that works for me. I stumble out of bed and drink a big cup of tea and don’t feel guilty at all about not folding laundry because who in their right mind would fold laundry at 4:00am? When they are in school, great, but if they are home, I know that 4:00am is my friend.
I’m impressed! Only a fire could get me out of bed at 4 a.m.!
It’s difficult, especially for those with young babies or small children. I remember a time when I could only write through their naps. And I’m so thankful I didn’t have Facebook, etc, when my girls were small. Enjoy those baby days, y’all … they are fleeting. I can’t believe my girls are teens now.
But since my girls are older now, I’m allowed more time to work through the day. I try to do dishes, a clean sweep of the house, etc, just before my husband comes home so he has a feeling that life is normal. Ha. And I keep my writing pad beside me throughout the evening … if something comes to mind, I jot it down and make changes on my laptop the next early morning. That way, I’m not running to my laptop throughout the evening … and I have more time to spend with family.
Also, if I get up fairly early, I can get a bit done while I’m the only one awake.
You and I think alike, Shelli. My hubby calls when he’s on his way home from work. That’s my cue to do a quick tidy up of the main level so he thinks I’ve got it all going on. 😉 Or not. He knows me better by now.
I love that you keep a note pad by you and jot down your notes for changes to make the next morning. I love getting up early, but I haven’t been getting to bed early enough to get up early. Sigh.
Jeanne, I know. I’m usually so groggy in the morning, but this latest project has had me jumping out of bed early. But by 9:30pm, I’m barely dangling on.
It’s hard!! But I block off one day a week to get my least favorite chores/errands done. I also use the timer method to stay on track. It helps. 🙂
Oh, the timer! That’s one of my best friends. 🙂
I need to use the timer method more!
My biggest distraction in four words — six homeschooled fun children.
But they are also my biggest asset. So much of what we/they say and do is excellent story fodder, and my oldest children are very interested in my writing. They’ll play with and watch the littlest children, even prepare an easy supper, so that I can write.
My next biggest distraction is the internet. We have an old computer that just doesn’t do online in a way that works, so I’ve set it up in my bedroom (a room with a door that closes). As soon as I get a desk chair, I’m anxious to see if hiding away in my web-less tower helps productivity for a hour or two every afternoon.
Great suggestions, Rachel. Thank you!
One would think that 25 dogs would be a distraction, but they actually respect my working hours. Right now the 22 in the house (it’s snowing, and most have seen too much abuse to be out in the cold) are silent.
Well, Dukee (pronounced doo-kay) the Pit Bull is asking for Second Breakfast.
Have to be careful when he sees Lord of The Rings. he gets ideas. Next he’ll want elevenses.
Another distraction – mainly to blogging- was a terrible internet connection. Today is the first day with a new one. We’ll see how it goes.
My one dog is a BIG distraction. He is constantly wanting to go out and then come back in and he “talks” to me all the time. 🙂
I was going to leave this out, but maybe it will help someone else, however humiliating it is to say it.
My biggest distraction is raw terror.
As my physical profile has declined markedly over the past few weeks…I am so scared.
Not of death, but of what tomorrow may bring.
I hope no one out there is in a position to be able to say, “Yeah, I’m there too.”
But if you are…all I can say, is do the thing that’s immediately before you.
And then do the next thing.
Lord bless you, Andrew. I wanted to write something meaningful that might help your struggle, but I don’t have the words. But then I realized you don’t need my words–you already have the Word.
Just prayed for you, Andrew…may the Lord hold you and your family close.
Thank you for sharing this, Andrew!
We were actually talking a bit about this in our staff meeting today–a couple of us have people in our lives in dangerous professions. We can never know what tomorrow will bring, but thankfully God is in control of it all!
Praying for you, Andrew.
Andrew, my thoughts and prayers are with you.
While My Sweet Husband and I are not facing immediate crises, many of the vendors in our antique mall are. Your advice, to “do the thing that’s immediately before you. And then do the next thing” is quite fitting!
Thank you for sharing, and take care.
Praying for you, Andrew!
Wendy L. Macdonald
Rachel, I like your #4 suggestion about only checking social media during breaks. In 4 words my biggest distraction is: my social media platform.
I love being engaged with others online. So my newest strategy is to keep my laptop unplugged from the internet. My hubby found me a wonderful new/used laptop that I keep in my woman cave. When I take breaks, I use my PC that’s in the den.
Now I can grab extra writing time when I’m free without being distracted by or distracting to others (I read aloud a lot while editing). A USB stick helps me keep my work backed up on my PC too.
Feeling grateful for my husband.
Blessings ~ Wendy ❀ (Happy weekend to everyone)
I love it! It’s a great idea to have a computer specifically for writing.
I hear that’s what George RR Martin does, too. I am not a fan of his books or the show, but I like his writing method.
Jennifer Zarifeh Major
I rarely get distracted, mostly because…ohh, is that a laser pointer!
Great tips, Rachel. Thanks for sharing.
My biggest distraction is: I’m a multi-tasker.” I try to do too many things at once to be most efficient, but you can’t really do that with writing.
It just takes discipline to overcome that. Set aside time that I can’t check email, can’t research or edit, just WRITE.
Great tips, Rachel! When I work away from home, I purposely choose a place that does not have Internet access, limits it (Panera Bread, for example, only allows 30 minutes), or is such a pain to find a connection for that I most likely won’t bother.
Having a pre-teen around helps, particularly my very vocal pre-teen, who won’t hesitate to tell me if Facebook shows up in my browsing history as the site most often visited.
My biggest distraction is my own mind. There are many times when my mind will run several thoughts at the same time, akin to trying to web surf with 200,000,456 browser tabs open with four or five computer programs operating in the back. When my mind gets like this, I find that I have to pull back from writing and focus on something else, which is another distraction. My other distraction are my dogs and cat, of which really are my life. When they are at rest I am capable of writing.
Given the fact that my own thoughts make it difficult for me to continuously write, I managed to find a way around it. I write for as long as I can, and then I take a break. When my mind slows down enough to think of what to write next, I put that in. I’ve also found that removing myself from familiar environments has helped too. This isn’t always possible though.
What a helpful post–thank you, Rachel, and for all the wonderful comments and tips, everyone! It’s rather heartening to know I’m not the only one who struggles with internet distraction…I am definitely finding that I get more writing done when I don’t have the option to click over to email or Facebook “just real quick” when I hit a wall.
Bless you all.
Thanks so much for all of the comments! I’m loving your 4 word descriptions!
I was getting distracted by all the email I received on any given day. When I looked closer at my inbox I realized that at least 60% of the stuff I was getting was junk–or else websites I’d subscribed to but then realized I couldn’t really read regularly. I decided to unsubscribe myself to almost everything (except for a few choice writing/inspirational sites). Now I only get email that is meaningful. It’s cleared up some mental clutter for me, causing more space for writerly thoughts.
Fabulous post, Rachel! Love your four-word description. 🙂
I was trying to drill down “a cat that thinks she’s boss,” but my creativity meter is waning for the day.
I like your Tip #2 about working away from home. I alternate between my desktop and laptop so I can carry the laptop to the library with me. I also use a timer like others have said.
Happy, Blessed Weekend!
Such a timely post!! I am having to evaluate my current routine with my four year old, which will change when my six year old isn’t in school for the summer. So this topic is definitely on my mind!
My biggest distraction? Social media and over-committing.
I’ve cut back on social media this past year, but I will have to cut back some more such as going from blogging three times a week to once a week. I try to limit my writing time to be just writing time and squeeze in social media when I can.
I like your suggestion about having certain days to do certain things. I have debated about making certain days cleaning days, social media days, and writing days. I learned earlier that having kids challenges a strict schedule, yet now that my son is in kindergarten, I have been tightening my schedule up. I think I will add the timer method as well.
Sometimes, though, it feels like I’m trying to squeeze water from a stone. I struggle with finding that balance between cutting out all the distractions, being so focused on my goals, that I forget to take breaks and refuel. But I’m learning!
Thanks for sharing!
This is one of my distractions! I suppose I feel less guilt when my distractions are related to my desire to work in the publishing industry. But as far as solutions go, I think my favorite is taking a pen and notebook to a park and getting that first draft on the page. This makes the second draft so much easier to improve while getting it into the computer, too.
All I need now is for the weather up here at the North Pole to warm up enough to enjoy the outdoors again.
Thanks for the distractions post. Last winter I got a snazzy new TV to watch the Olympics and my productivity descended faster than a giant slalom racer as all the other enticing programming tugged at me. Thanks to this post, I am officially pulling the plug and getting back to my writing.