As a writer, you’ll already know how much you need to concentrate on getting into the flow of what you’re doing. You need focus, you need determination, and to a certain extent, you need to let go to let yourself fall into the process of scribing.
However, with phones, technology, and other people all around us, it’s easy to find ourselves lost or tempting by distractions, which means that ultimately nothing gets done. Whether you’re a freelancer, a copywriter, or an aspiring author, it’s essential that you get in the zone to help you get words onto the page.
With all this in mind, today we’re going to explore the top ten need-to-know ways you can minimize the number of distractions around you, ensuring you have the maximum number of opportunities to focus and get your work done.
#1 – Create a Dedicated Writing Space
Where do you currently write? At home? On your sofa? At work? In a coffee shop? If the line is blurred between these places then it’s no wonder you’re going to find yourself distracted because you’re telling your brain that you’re in the place where you should, or could, be doing other things.
This is why it can be so important to make sure you’re only writing, as much as possible, in a dedicated writing space. This way, every time you go into this space, you’ll teach your brain that it’s time to write and do or think about nothing else, thus maximizing your writing productivity.
#2 – Leave Your Phone at the Door
Hand in hand with the consideration above, but it also applies everywhere, makes sure you’re leaving your phone and any other technology you don’t really need at the door where it won’t distract you. Research shows that even having your phone on the desk next to you can be enough to distract you and take your mind away from the task at hand, so make sure you’re keeping it out of view.
This point also refers to tablets, laptops, televisions, and anything else you might find yourself picking up and playing with. It’s far too easy to fall into the rabbit hole, so avoid going near it. FocusMe can help you stay focused, and even if you want to use your smartphone, make sure to install a free FocusMe app to eliminate distractions.
#3 – Research Everything First
I’ve always found that one of the biggest distractions comes from the internet. Of course, if you’re writing on your computer, then it’s easy to get onto the internet in just a click or two, and then once again we’re in the rabbit hole. However, there are going to be times you need to go onto the internet to research what you’re writing.
To counteract the risk of falling into cat pictures and funny videos, make sure you’re spending a dedicated amount of time researching what you’re going to write first, get everything together, and then disconnect from the internet to stop you going on it.
#4 – Keep a Tidy Desk
If there’s visual clutter on your desk, this is one of the most common yet subtlest ways to find yourself distracted. Even when you’re in the full flow of writing, with clutter and other bits of paper and books in your peripherals, it’s easy for your mind to wander and you’ll quickly find yourself distracted.
Instead, make sure you’re keeping your writing space tidy, clean and free from clutter and mess. The tidier your environment, the more productive and focused you’ll be.
#5 – Have a Writing Schedule
Forming a habit for writing is one of the best ways to get your mind into gear, focused, and to help train yourself to get into the zone. One of the best ways to do this is to set yourself a writing schedule, which means choosing to write between certain times.
While it may take a while to get into originally, over time this is a sure-fire way to get your brain into gear and to stop your mind becoming distracted on other things, such as what else you’re doing throughout the day and jobs you need to do. Writing time is writing time.
#6 – Take Dedicated Breaks
When you’re writing, it can be hard to stay focused for long periods of time, unless you’re really engaged in what you’re doing. As a rule of thumb, it’s important to take breaks every 20-25 minutes to stretch, to get up and move around, and to take a breather.
“Writing is a really mentally-draining activity, so make sure you’re giving your brain time to breath and refocus, rather than trying to push through and end up burning yourself out,” explains Sarah Farrow, an editor for AustralianHelp and Academized.
#7 – Listen to Ambient Music
You might like to listen to your favorite playlist while you’re writing, or you might not like to listen to music at all, but listening to something good can get you caught up and distracted when you’re singing along or dancing to the beat. On the other hand, no music can distract you if there are lots of things going on around you.
However, the balance here would be to listen to ambient music. There’s plenty to choose from, from classical music, bird song or ocean sounds, or even listening to a simple and relaxing meditation playlist can be a great way to get your head in the zone.
#8 – Break Your Tasks Down
When it comes to writing something big or working on a big project, you might find the task really overwhelming and stressful, and this can put you off and make you not want to work on in. Instead, break the task down into smaller chunks that are manageable and easy!
#9 – Set Yourself a Deadline
“People tend to work well under pressure, so by setting yourself a deadline to complete your work, you’ll be far more focused on making sure you complete it, thus keeping you more focused on your writing. Treat yourself to a reward when you complete it,” shares Benjamin Turner, a writer from State of Writing and Big Assignments.
#10 – Identify Your Weak Spots
We all have different things in our lives that distract us, and what distracts me might not necessarily distract you. This is why it’s so important to make sure you’re singling out what distracts you and being mindful of your process, enabling you to identify what you need to work on.
As you can see, while there are lots of distractions in the world, there are also plenty of ways to make sure you stay focused and on task. Experiment with different approaches and find what works for you!