There are so many distractions these days. A recent article by NBC News reported that students feel they need to check their phones about every two minutes. Like it or not, we're in a world where we are bombarded with data, alerts, pictures, and emails. It happens all the time. I grab my phone or tablet to check something, and I find myself an hour later cruising the Internet and looking at funny pet videos. Between work and home, I get about 500 emails a day. Your productivity is affected by the distractions and interruptions. Here are some ideas to help you focus on your writing.
1. I heard an interview recently with Woodward and Bernstein, and they declare an Internet Sabbath from time to time to get their writing done. They'll pick a block of time where they turn off the distractions and write.
2. Set aside a specific time for checking email and social media feeds. When that time is up, shut it down and get back to your writing.
3. Writing, editing, and proofreading are hard work, and you do need to get up and move around from time to time. Just don't let the breaks take over the work time. I have a writer friend who uses an egg timer to alert her when physical and Internet breaks are over.
4. Look at all the applications and websites that notify you of something. Pare them down and turn off unnecessary alerts and notifications.
5. Clean up your email box. Create folders and rules for notifications that you don't need to read immediately. Keep your email box organized and tamed. It takes more time to go in and review/delete hundreds of emails. Unsubscribe to unnecessary feeds that clutter your inbox.
6. Turn off your phone or leave it in another room for a set period of writing time. If it's not there, you're tempted less.
7. Keep your physical writing space organized. If you can find the things you need, you spend less time cleaning up, organizing, or searching for that one important sticky note.
8. I have never tried any of the applications, but there are quite a few out there that will monitor your Internet time and let you know how much you're spending on what sites. There are also other applications that will limit or block you from websites. If you've tried them, let me know how they work.
What else works for you? I'd love to hear from you.