Today I have a great guest post for you from Productivity expert Benny Hsu. Benny shares some tips and some really useful tools for keeping focused on your writing. Thanks, Benny!
You’re sitting at your desk and you’re ready to write. You start writing and then you’re distracted by something on your computer. The next thing you know you’re checking Facebook, email, or Twitter.
If it’s not the computer, it’s the noises from your house or you start cleaning to procrastinate from writing. If it’s happened to you before don’t worry because there are ways to eliminate distractions.
Being aware of the distractions, proper preparation, and reducing them will help your focus and productivity.
If you’ve had problems in the past staying focused, here are tips to help you out.
Keep your workspace clean
Having a messy workspace will keep you fixated on the small things when your eyes wander from the computer screen. A disorganized desk will tempt you to start cleaning just to procrastinate. Keep it very minimal. A clean workspace also just feels more relaxing.
Make sure you’re comfortable
Since you’ll be sitting for awhile, having an ergonomically correct chair will be helpful. Also be sure you are in a good working position. You want to keep your attention on your writing and not how uncomfortable your body feels.
Find a quiet time
If you’re in a busy house, the most quiet time to write might be before the sun rises or after everyone goes to sleep. If that’s not optimal for you, let people in your house know to not disturb you for the next hour. Close the door. Hang a sign on the door. Put on noise canceling headphones. Turn off your phone. If you let others know in the house to not disturb you, you prevent distractions from occurring.
(Of course, this isn’t foolproof, but you might be surprised how cooperative people can be when they see you’re serious about your writing commitments – Ed.)
Set a Timer
Having a set time to write will force you to stay focused on writing. Set it to a comfortable amount of time (30-45 mins), work until the timer goes off, take a short break (5-10 mins), reset the timer again, and do it again.
Use a distraction free writing program
There are great writing programs that are full screen and have very few options besides spell checking, word counting and saving. They eliminate everything else on your computer screen but your text.
- q10 (PC),
- Darkroom (PC),
- JDarkRoom (PC + Mac),
- OmmWriter (Mac+PC),
- Writer (online app),
- WriteRoom (Mac only)
All the programs are free except for WriteRoom and the newer version of OmmWriter.
I’d add IAWriter for the iPad crowd. Very nice app – Ed
Shut everything down
Turn off Twitter. Close your internet browser. Turn off your email notifications. You do not want any popups sending you updates. Not only will it distract you but checking one thing will lead many more.
If you’re still tempted to check, disable your wi-fi on your laptop. Unplug your internet from your desktop.
Eliminate or minimize background noise
Having the television on for background noise is a bad idea. Listening to some soft music is acceptable if you want to drown out outside noises. Just make sure you have a playlist created so you’re not constantly searching for the next song to play.
Try a pair of noise canceling headphones, whether you listen to music or not. Not only will it block out noise but people are less likely to bother you if you’re wearing headphones.
Get out of the house
If the house will be too distracting, go to a coffee shop to write. Even though it will be noisy at the coffee store, it might serve as white noise and help you focus more. Noise canceling headphones are one way to block out the ambient noise.
Benny Hsu writes at GetBusylivingblog.com where he writes about pursuing your passion, being the person you want to be and living life to the fullest. You can connect with him on his blog, or on Twitter @Benny_Hsu. He’d love for you to say hi.