Productivity: Are You Sabotaging Your Writing Sessions?

“I’m going to write, but I should check Facebook and my email … Oh look – Twitter and Pinterest!”

An hour later …

“I never seem to have time to write!”

Sound familiar? You may be sabotaging your own efforts by distracting yourself from your goals.

Discover how distractions may be affecting your writing as well as how you can increase your productivity.

Understanding Distractions

First, knowing is half the battle. Distractions can be classified either as passive or active:

  • Active distractions are from you. Often a result of habit or temptation, examples include texting, browsing social media, emailing, etc.
  • Passive distractions are from outside influences. Examples may include incoming texts, phone calls, notifications, instant messages, etc.

Distractions can range from total attention-grabbing tasks to minor distractions:

  • Immersive: You completely divorce yourself from your original task to dedicate all of your attention to the distraction. Examples include incoming phone calls and face-to-face conversations.
  • Dominant: You allow the distraction to occupy your mind; the original task slowly develops back into your mind. Examples include web browsing or grabbing a cup of coffee.
  • Distraction: Your attention is drawn away from your original task; once you return to the original task, you proceed more slowly and less accurately. Examples include ongoing text conversations and hunger.
  • Background: Your attention is slightly diverted from your original task, which reduces your speed and accuracy. Examples include overhearing conversations or the television is on.

Knowing where the distraction originates can help you develop a plan of action.

Getting the Hang of It

Next, it’s not practical to believe you will be able to completely divorce yourself from distractions. However, you can improve your focus with planning.

  • Establish Goals: Writing daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly goals can help you stay on top of your efforts. How many articles do you want to write per week? Write it down.
  • List Tasks: Write down all of the things you need to do to achieve your goals in addition to daily maintenance tasks such as checking emails, following up with clients, etc.
  • Prioritize Tasks: Determine how important each task is by measuring its value against your goals and its importance to anyone else involved.
  • Budget Time: Create a time budget by slotting time each day for your tasks, such as writing, brainstorming, checking email, business calls, making dinner, and other activities.
  • Plan Long-Term: Brainstorm topics relevant to your audience ahead of time by establishing an annual editorial calendar.
  • Execute the Plan: Your plan is only effective if you use it. Tweak your plan as needed and increase efficiency by using methods like timeboxing to squeeze more value out of your time.

Being Constructive About Distractions

Finally, be proactive about distractions. Not all distractions can be easily dismissed, nor are they all bad! Consider whether the distraction is worthwhile by measuring its importance based on its value to you, significance to others, and urgency.

  • Low Importance: Stop diverting your attention with active distractions. Personal Facebook browsing, text messaging, and more can take up TONS of your time as well as lower your accuracy. These things may be important to you, but in the grand scheme – are they helping you achieve or hinder your goal? Focus on your tasks that help you reach your goal.
  • Important: Passive and active distractions that are essential steps in achieving your goals should be addressed, but they may not be an emergency. Address these after other priority tasks are complete and then give it your full attention.
  • Urgent: Timely distractions can be limited opportunities (“once in a blue moon” tasks that will help you increase your success) or emergencies (will cost you more time and money if left unaddressed). Don’t procrastinate with urgent tasks that can increase (or decrease) your success. Deal with these immediately.

Using the tips above, create more value by identifying your distractions to create a plan of success. How do you ensure you’re not sabotaging your efforts and how do you reduce distractions? Let us know – we’d love to hear from you!

26 Comments »


1
davidinnotts writes:

Thanks! This is the best short article about distraction, prevarication and task-management that I’ve seen for a while.

I have to work with distraction, and I keep a timer with me when I think it might have become the problems you describe, which I click on and off to discover my actual time spent writing each article. But your point about distractions reducing the quality of that time are very apt.

Comment provided May 13, 2013 at 9:52 AM

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2
Josh Inklovich writes:

I agree with David. Removing distractions is an area I am actively focusing on. I should be writing reports right now vs. commenting on your blog about distractions, so that shows my progress ;-(

Thank you for writing on a relevant topic.

Comment provided May 13, 2013 at 11:50 AM

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3
Doug writes:

Thank for the great insights. I am distracted right now from doing what I need to do as an insurance agent. I just couldn’t help myself, it seems. I will be working harder at eliminating those distractions I can and minimizing the others. You have lots of good advice, hope I can be determined enough to do those.

Comment provided May 13, 2013 at 12:09 PM

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4
Lisa writes:

Great article with great reminders. I will sit down to write and then all of a sudden realize that I am on the Facebook newsfeed. How did THAT happen?

I used to set a timer like the commenter above. I best get back to that practice!

Thanks for sharing.

Comment provided May 13, 2013 at 12:30 PM

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5
CH James writes:

The bullet points for listing tasks and budgeting time are things that have always helped me. I’ve found the more detailed my list, the less wiggle room I give myself for time wasting.

For example, a “Social Media Morning Check-Up” list item can absolutely be part of a productive routine, but if you break it down into something like the following, you create some serious work boundaries that can keep a wandering mind in check:

Social Media Morning Check-Up
-Facebook (Business Page) – 10 Min
-Twitter (Business Page) – 5 Min
-Twitter (Personal Page) – 5 Min
-Blog Review (Niche Only) – 15 Min

Admittedly, this is pretty regimented and isn’t right for everybody. Some people thrive with fluid, open-ended days, but it’s worth a try if you’re struggling to stay on track and get things done.

Comment provided May 13, 2013 at 12:59 PM

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Hi James
Can you check everything in just 10 Minutes on your Business Facebook. I am sure there are not more followers on your FB Business profile. Or they not active or you don’t communicate as effectively. Do you? ……..Pratyush

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CH James writes:

Hi Pratyush,

My breakdown was more of a hypothetical situation to illustrate an example of how a single list item (“Social Media Morning Check-Up” in this case) can be further broken down into tighter segments if you want even more control over your day. I didn’t intend for it to be read as my own actual routine. I suppose “Facebook (Business Page) – X Min” would have been more clear. Sorry for the confusion!

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6
Kirsten Nelson writes:

Laughing out loud while reading this–pretty much spot on for my morning. I spent 45 minutes switch tasking (Dave Crenshaw’s book The Myth of Multitasking is a must-read), then shut down my web browser, put my phone in the other room, and put my headphones with some of my favorite focus music on.

@CH James – those are great guidelines!

Comment provided May 13, 2013 at 1:49 PM

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7
Suzanna writes:

Excellent article! I was just about to go and write, but checked my email (probably for the 20th time this morning) again… And you just nailed it. I have been procrastinating, washed dishes, cleaned the house, ate a few times. I notice often once I “force” myself to sit down and start writing, it gets flowing and the distractions are not so tempting. It is just the time period before sitting down to write.

Thanks for the reminder, I will keep it handy and re-read it often.

Comment provided May 13, 2013 at 1:56 PM

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8
davidinnotts writes:

It’s not wrong to spend a FEW minuted writing a reply here – don’t feel guilty. Please add your comments and ideas, people, and we can all share. Focussing on this topic a little is GOOD for efficiency.

Comment provided May 13, 2013 at 1:56 PM

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9
Robert Avery writes:

Wonderfully written and greatly appreciated.
Keep them coming. Looking forward to the next one.
Robert

Comment provided May 13, 2013 at 2:31 PM

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10
Randall Magwood writes:

I like to start off every morning with a workout, just to get me alert and get the juices flowing. Then i follow my daily marketing routine, and i’m finished in about 3 hours. This is how i stay productive.

Comment provided May 13, 2013 at 3:58 PM

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11
Ken writes:

Distractions are easy to get lost in. In the research process for a writing project, some writers seems to loose focus on the completion on the project and spend way to much time researching to such an extent that they loose precious time in the actual creation portion of the project.

It is a great idea to plan your project with specific timelines for each task of the process and maintain a strict schedule to maximize the author’s efforts.

Great article and great advice!

Comment provided May 13, 2013 at 5:22 PM

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12
Arun Prabhu writes:

Great article! You put everything in one page that needs to be said. We all have to cope with distractions one way or other. The trick lies in detaching oneself from these and concentrating on the task ahead.

In my experience meditation helps to focus.

Comment provided May 13, 2013 at 10:21 PM

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13

Social Media is sometimes the good source of knowledge and information but not at all time. Once you are able to “Prioritize the things” you can manage it better. The article is indeed “Self Revitalization”.

Comment provided May 14, 2013 at 12:57 AM

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14
D.RaghavendraRao writes:

Thank you madam , the various reasons mentioned by you are really true. I started an article but could not complete it because of some distractions.

I will complete this article and send it you. Previously I sent an article “are we prisoners of religious rites?’ Please inform at which stage i stands.DRRao

Comment provided May 14, 2013 at 7:11 AM

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Hi DRRao,

I see you have recently been in contact with our Member Support Team regarding your problematic article. We recommend making the suggested edits and resubmitting for Editorial review. If you have any further questions please feel free to use the Contact Us button within your My.EzineArticles account and we will walk you through it.

~Vanessa

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15
Ruth Loffa writes:

There are often underlying reasons as to why we sabotage our work, using distractions as a way to do this.

I recognized I was doing this and recently enrolled on a course with Carol Look, she uses EFT (emotional freedom technique) as a way to remove self sabotaging beliefs. It really worked and I would recommend this to anyone that is continually ‘avoiding’ getting on with what they are supposed to be doing.

Comment provided May 14, 2013 at 7:44 AM

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16
Sara Woodward writes:

Such a good article. I read it whilst:

Drinking coffee

Replying to an email about a golf match

Trying to distract a playful puppy

Answering a query regarding the whereabouts of a black bra lost in the laundry ‘system’.

I am probably no different from a host of other writers.
Things will change. I will take your points on board and implement a plan. I will also cut down on the coffee, sort the golf match out later, banish the puppy and worry about the bra later.
Thank you for getting me back on track.

Sara

Comment provided May 14, 2013 at 8:45 AM

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17

I honestly write down my goals on a weekly (sometimes daily) basis – and then get distracted right away! I get things done when they need to be – maybe not at the exact time but they get done :)

Comment provided May 15, 2013 at 3:16 AM

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18
Dianna Booher writes:

Distraction never encourages creative writing.

Comment provided May 15, 2013 at 3:21 PM

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19
Gracious Store writes:

You raised very good sources of distraction that could sabotage one’s writing plan. But the worst source of external distraction is that from uncertainty as to whether the effort you invest in writing will be fruitful or not. The thought that in-spite of all you sincere effort your article may be rejected so many times for no clear reason and finally end up in a trash bin. This is the worst source of distraction that keeps from from following through with my writing plan

Comment provided May 15, 2013 at 9:27 PM

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Jack writes:

You are right on the money,LOL. I can get distracted by reading a forum for like half an hour a day, but fear of failure can keep me distracted for hours!

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20

This blog absolutely keeps on looking better every day. You should really be
happy.

Comment provided May 22, 2013 at 10:06 AM

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21
Arun Singh writes:

it is really a wonderful and nice post. you have written very very well all and listed it point by point.

Comment provided May 25, 2013 at 9:54 AM

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22
Francis Nmeribe writes:

The person you described in this article is me. Thank you very much for writing it. Going forward, I would keep this in mind and work to save my writing talent which has been proven and which has given me much fun, honours and money.

Thanks, once again.

Comment provided June 6, 2013 at 11:37 PM

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