The internet is the most amazing invention ever. It connects everyone all over the world with just the click of a button or swipe of a screen. It is packed full of useful information and for a writer, this can be heaven. The instant connection can also be hell. There is always a distraction with the internet and the dawn of social media has made this even worse. With Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, and more, there is always something to distract you and take your attention. I’ve said it so many times, “I’ll just check Facebook before I start on my next article”. An hour later I am still scrolling my newsfeed, sharing inspirational quotes, replying to messages, posting in groups and so on. My article has been forgotten and before I know it, it is time to pick my kids up from school. My day has gone by and I am left totally stressed out and running around all afternoon trying to catch up.
When this happens, everything goes out the window. Dinner hasn’t been prepared. Client work hasn’t been completed. My own writing hasn’t been completed and my household chores have been forgotten. I really do hate when this happens and it has happened so many times that now I have a distraction free writing method that I apply whenever I have things that I want to do. I have a routine that I do my best to follow but I’m not perfect either and there are times when I slip and social media takes over my morning. If this does happen and I haven’t completed what I need before I pick my children up from school, I find that they suffer. I have to complete my writing tasks when they get home from school which means I’m not really present while they are doing their homework. My body is sitting beside them but my mind is working on the sentences and paragraphs that are making up the client article I am typing. If my children are having a discussion I usually end up telling them to be quiet because I’m finishing off my work. It’s an absolute nightmare and after having it happen on numerous occasions and having my children feel neglected I have come up with a method that works for me.
My Distraction Free Writing Method
As you know, I write while my children are in school. This means my writing day is usually from around 10am until 3pm. Now I do have a break for lunch and sometimes a little walk during this time. Sitting down for 5 hours straight is not healthy and I don’t do it anymore. Now I break my writing into chunks. If I have a client article to do, I will gather my research and then save my document. I do the same for any work I have to do. If it’s a blog post, I will compile my research and again save my document. After all my research has been completed I will take my dog for a walk and do any household chores that need to be done. At 12pm I will have my lunch and complete my dinner prep.
I allow myself 20 minutes every morning to check my emails and social media. If anything needs to be answered, I will add it to my daily to-do-list. For every cup of tea I have during the day, I allow myself to check Facebook or a different social media site.
Once I have my research completed, my dinner prep done, and my lunch eaten, I take 30 minutes to answer any urgent queries or messages that I have received. These are then ticked off my list.
Between 12.30pm and 2pm, depending on my work load, I will get into my car and leave the house. I usually drive to the car park at the school and stay there until the kids finish for the day. I have often been known to be sitting in the car for at least 2 hours before school finishes. My reason for this is that I can type away in the car without any distractions. I have no internet and all I have to do is type. My research has been completed so all I literally have to do is type. It may sound a little over the top, but it is what works for me. I have tried all the different distraction free techniques such as blocking social media sites for certain time periods each day but that doesn’t work because I just end up removing the plugin or disabling it if I want to go online. I have tried the distraction free writing where all you have is a blank page but again once if I am at home and connected to the internet it doesn’t work. If I am looking at the blank page for too long I get bored or if I have an idea for something, I will jump online and start looking.
Once I have internet connection, these distraction techniques just don’t work for me.
I did try going to the local hotel and that was great; just me and my laptop and some freshly brewed coffee. It worked really well until the waitress mentioned that there was free Wi-Fi available. There went my distraction free writing. I have been to the library too, but the temptation to sit and read books instead is too much. The car works perfectly. I sit and type up my articles and they get done. I have no distractions and I get everything done.
When I get home from the school, all I normally have to do is upload content, or email my work to my clients. I get to be there, fully present, while my kids are doing their homework and answer any questions they might have. It makes such as different to them knowing that they aren’t going to be shushed or told to be quiet. They love telling me about their day and getting my opinion on things and I love helping and listening to them too. I can’t do this if I am too busy finishing my work because I have been distracted by social media sites all day.
Setting Time Limits For Social Media and Internet Searches
The internet really can be time consuming especially if you are looking for something. The time seems to speed up when I start looking for something. This is especially true when it comes to websites. I was looking for a new wordpress theme for one of my websites today as the new Google mobile search protocol came into effect today and one of my sites wasn’t fully responsive. I started looking at different themes at 9.30am and before I knew it, it was 11am and I hadn’t picked one yet. During that time I was also chatting with one of my clients via Skype about a new feature article that we were creating and if he hadn’t messaged me I wouldn’t have realised the time. I finally settled on a theme and started tweaking things before I remembered what time it was. I immediately turned off the laptop I was working on and turned on my smaller one that I bring to the school with me. I made a cup of tea and started gathering the research I needed for my work today.
Once I had what I needed, I grabbed my car keys, bag, and laptop and left. I knew if I stayed in the house I wouldn’t get anything done. I had a feature article to complete, a client blog post, and my own writing too. I am now sitting in my car typing away with the radio in the background. It is 1.30pm and I know that I will have everything done by 3pm.
I should have known better than to start looking at website stuff during the day as this always happens. Website design is one of the areas where time really gets away from you. I have spent hours looking at themes before and I should have known to leave this till this evening. I didn’t think though because I was aware of the fact that Google’s new rules came into effect today. I don’t know why I panicked, because when I went to look over this site, I realised that I hadn’t even posted to the blog since 2013 and the site needs some content updating too. I have now given myself an even bigger job to do.
I think subconsciously I was looking for a distraction today and I felt my energy slump this morning. This happens, and when it does I normally don’t want to do anything for the day or just do something trivial. Today my website was my excuse but I am delighted to say I didn’t allow it to take over. I implemented my distraction free writing method straightaway and I am now almost caught up on everything I need to do.
I should have set my timer before I started looking at themes. I should have known to give myself 30 minutes to find a theme and if I hadn’t found one I would have to leave it till this evening. I didn’t and that is why I ended up coming to the school so early today. I am behind schedule because I didn’t heed my own advice. It only takes two seconds to turn on my 30 minute research timer but I didn’t. If I had, I could be sitting at home enjoying a lovely cup of tea now or going for a walk in the sun. It’s typical, the weather is beautiful, the sun is shining and I am sitting in my car where the temperature reads 22.5 degrees Celsius. I could be sitting out in it or enjoying a walk if I had of remembered to set my timer.
This is one of the reasons why setting time limits is so important. They also work really well. You’d be surprised how much you get done when you know you only have a certain amount of time. You should try it. I did a whole day of timers as an experiment one time. I had a 30 minute work timer, followed by a 15 minute moving timer, and so forth throughout my morning. I don’t think I have ever achieved so much in one morning. During my 15 minutes moving, I managed to get the whole downstairs hovered. On another of the 15 minute timers I got my kitchen fully cleaned. I got the first draft of an article typed during one 30 minute timer too. I knew I was being timed and this was a great incentive. You should try it, it really does work. You can add in different timers too. I was looking at moving around more which is why I had my 15 minutes moving timers, but you can do whatever you like. There is a great timer app available for the iPhone that allows you to set up lots of different timers and then just activate them or you can just use a normal timer. Try it and let me know what you think.
Timers are also a great idea for social media. Set your timer to alert you when you have spent a certain amount of time on the site. It will help you to really make the most of your time on these sites too.
There is so much more that I can write about distractions, social media, and the internet, but I think most of you are probably already aware of how distractive these things can be. Do you have any of your own distraction techniques that you would like to share? If so I would love to hear about them as I’m sure my other readers would too. Please share them in the comments and if you do use decide to test out my timer technique, come back and let me know how you get on.
Until next time,