When we think of distractions, it’s Facebook, email, smartphones and television that first come to mind. We have complex technological solutions to combat the most common digital attention obstacles, and frankly they’ve been beaten to death in a hundred other self-help publications by now.
But what else inhibits our efforts to stay punctual and productive? What haven’t we even considered?
To maximize your efficiency as a writer, you need to acknowledge these un-thought-about blogging distractions and terminate them post-haste:
Your overblown goals
Determined to get 10,000 likes on your next post? Already anticipating the thought-leaders you’ll share it with? Sometimes those big goals you’re so focused on will weigh on your creative conscious, doing more harm than good. But give yourself a chance to let go for the day, because you’ll be surprised what you may accomplish.
Stepping off the beaten path of your huge blogging aspirations will lend some perspective and quiet your mind. Without fixating on what’s to come, you’ll be left pondering in the present. And the present is where your mind needs to be as a writer.
After all, the Terminator had big goals. He had to protect a young John Connor and subsequently prevent mankind’s impending destruction, but he never let these responsibilities cloud his focus.
Your daily to-do
I need to mail my utility bills. I need to take out the trash. I need to pick up milk. Similar to overblown goals, your daily to-do can create an incessant distraction when you’re trying to write.
My advice is to take care of any pressing tasks or needs that are nagging on your mind. Getting them out of the way before you start writing will be a huge relief, especially if you struggle with this sort of anxiety.
Luckily, the Terminator’s to-do list was pretty blunt and concise. Recognizing the beauty in simplicity, Arnold’s character is a wonderful role model for aspiring bloggers!
This one’s more for those who work from home, but even in offices the occasional animal visit isn’t unheard of (it happens in here from time to time – not that I can complain).
I can’t tell you how many times my cat has decided to hop up on my lap for cuddles in the middle of work efforts. Pets have a knack for doing ridiculously cute stuff when you have the least amount of time to indulge them. And many times, us animal lovers will find ourselves wrapped up in petting sessions or dog-park getaways when we have blogging obligations to fulfill.
But you must ignore your pet’s adorable shenanigans. There’s a time and a place for enjoying the company of your furry companion, and this is neither.
The T-1000 was a heartless machine. He would’ve tossed that distracting puppy into a box or containment cell until his work was finished. I applaud his remarkable focus.
It’s rumbling. It’s groaning. It’s making strange noises you’ve never heard before. You can’t quite remember the last time you ate, and if you know one thing it’s that you’re hungry. And guess what? Your empty stomach is inhibiting your concentration.
So FEED IT! What are you in the mood for? How about a delicious slice of pizza? Grilled chicken Caesar salad? Or salmon stir fry? All great brain food in my humble opinion – and I could go on forever. The best part about a pre-post meal is you can multitask with a brainstorm as you chew.
Just hook yourself up with some food and get on with it.
Sometimes we hide from disruptive noise behind our headphones in an effort to drown it out. But lyrical music can become its own distraction; it’s one more narrative to pay attention to, and the vocalist’s words are blurting straight into your ears.
This can snowball into a noisy chaos that’s tough to shake. But there are several alternatives I recommend if you’re prone to aural distractions.
Instead of escaping your surroundings with your favorite metal or hip hop, go the instrumental route. I’ve found classical tunes, jazz and music with otherwise low beats-per-minute is ideal for zoning out with when you’re going on a writing spree.
The Terminator might make Louis Armstrong turn over in his grave, but he has the right idea.
That’s right – this post itself is a distraction. I’m guilty of diverting your focus, and for this I sincerely apologize.
Of course, educating yourself with a healthy dose of industry know-how is important. But excessive time spent reading other people’s work can be an easy way to procrastinate without realizing it. Reading on the internet is like drinking an 18-year-old scotch. It’s absolutely fantastic, but you should only do it sometimes (and rarely in excess).
Now stop reading and get to writing! Hasta la vista, baby!