Do you ever get distracted? Me too! Our distractions are a self-replicating cycle which are very easy to fall in to, spiraling down until we snap out of it one day, looking around nervously, trying to remember where we are.
Deep breath, it’s ok. Forgive yourself and get back to work.
After you’ve written or created something to get you back on track, let’s examine the problem. The easy answer comes from Steven Pressfield,
You’re Being Assaulted by the Resistance
And this will happen for the rest of your life. Get over it.
Time to deconstruct the issue at hand; how you can overcome your howling self-doubt. I won’t talk anymore about how we need to leave social media alone 99% of the time, along with constantly analyzing metrics. This is easy to identify, though still difficult to implement (of course).
What else can be stripped away?
Turn off the Internet
Some of the smoothest writing I’ve done has been in a place I didn’t have internet access. Just sit down and write, what a brilliant idea! Normally I’ll turn off the wi-fi on my computer, but sometimes I have to go over and turn off the router because I can’t resist. Pretend you’re a hermit in the woods, writing down your wisdom for the outside world. Wendell Berry writes in shack by the river, on paper no less!
Use a Full-Screen Writing App
If you’re not using the full-screen option on WordPress, get to it! It strips away all of the options, menus, and comments that can take your focus away from the task at hand. Word count is included, along with the gentle nudge of “Just Write”.
If you’ve already turned off the internet, Apple Pages app has a full screen option, but it’s easy to be tempted by all the formatting options. You can pay a few bucks and get a minimalist writing app, like Omni Writer (what I use now) or iA Writer (both available on Mac App Store). John at Tentblogger has a great post on Distraction-Free Writing Apps.
Focus on a Single Voice
The trickiest way distraction manifests itself is through giving you more ideas and concepts than you can handle. The Resistance is so successful is because it feeds our ego!
“I have so many great ideas! Let’s do them all!” You need to take this voice behind the woodshed and beat the shit out of it. [click to tweet this]
This voice will tear you away from more great work than social media, metrics, and music combined. In the past 6 months, I have spent time learning about and implementing the following ideas and projects.
- YouTube videos
- 3 Additional Blog Projects (fitness, yoga, travel)
- Email Marketing
Are any of these bad ideas or projects? No! But left unchecked, they keep me from writing to my core audience and topic. Even if they eventually become an important part of my site, I’ve been blogging for 6 months, and don’t need to jump from tactic to tactic.
Ruthlessly Focus on 1 Topic from 1 Source
Other bloggers will tell you differently, but this is what I’ve found to be true. Keep asking yourself, “Does this apply to the promise I’ve made to my readers?” If it doesn’t, file the idea away and move along. One day you’ll be ready to branch out.
As you continue to write and create, you’ll find this practice easier (but ever-present). Daily strip away what you don’t need, until nothing remains but your voice. It can be terrifying, but it’s what you need to do.
Question: What are the techniques you use to cut through the distractions and get work done? Do you find yourself assaulted by too many ideas, or is this ridiculous?
Everything I Know
I write about developing your best self, regularly delivered on Friday