The other day I posted about how I'm so focused on my writing that I haven't made time for any other experiences worth blogging about. My excellent reader Annalisa Crawford posted this question:
"I'm still struggling to avoid distractions, and I've been at it for almost three years - what's your secret?"
Readers are worth so much more than giving me an ego boost! They also give feedback, start discussions, get us thinking, and inspire new blog articles. You guys rock!
I'm certainly no master at this, but have two secrets that help me avoid distractions:
2. I work toward my most important, long-term, life-fulfilling goal first thing in the morning.
The morning calibrates my focus for the rest of the day. Everything I do apart from that focus feels like a distraction. It doesn't matter if I only spend an hour doing something when I wake up; that's where my thoughts are going to lean for the rest of the day.
Example: When I first started working from home, I decided to clean my apartment at the start of each day. That way, I'd have a nice, organized work space. But then I'd spend the whole day cleaning.
Next I tried doing what I call "Real Life Stuff" first thing in the morning: paying bills, making phone calls, running errands. My reasoning was I'd get it all out of the way so I wouldn't have anything to stress about once I started writing. Instead, I thought about stressful things all day long.
Do NOT get on the internet first thing in the morning, whatever you do! Spending three hours online in the evening is better for your writing than 30 minutes in the morning.
If I write before I do anything else, nothing is on my mind apart from the writing. When something slips in asking me to change what I'm doing, it's easy to say, "Nope, I'm writing now."
Then when I'm done writing, I have just enough time to do real life stuff, clean, and cook dinner before Andrew gets home.
NOTE: Sleep counts as a focus-setting activity. When I sleep in - which is my greatest weakness right now - it's hard to calibrate my mind onto anything else.
Yesterday I had a ton of real life stuff to deal with, so I decided to spend most of my day on that and write when I found time (I never did). It was a very productive day. I finished my long to-do list, studied for a test I have to take, vacuumed all the floors, cleaned the fridge, planned a menu for this week, and went grocery shopping.
But when I went to bed that night, I felt empty. Nothing I did that day will matter a month from now. I wish I had spent just a little time on something that will last.
That's it! That's my big "secret." It seems to be working well so far.