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  • S.M. Ryan

Dealing with Distractions

Updated: Oct 10, 2020

& Eliminating Them


I used to think I was easily distracted but then I realized I'm just a creative person so naturally if I tell myself to do the work, I suddenly feel the need to do anything except the thing that needs doing.


Like this post.


Did I let myself be distracted by things that could have waited the hour or so it would have taken me to do this instead of dragging it out all day? Yes.


Did I know that when I let myself be distracted anyway? Also, yes.


To be honest, as someone who works for themselves, I can't say I have distractions that aren't of my own making. I make my own schedule and move through my day as I see fit so my distractions are usually things I allow to pull me away from writing even when I know better.


Most of my distractions fall under one of a few umbrellas:


Chores:

If any adulting needs to be done, then I can't concentrate on creating because the overly responsible part of my brain is busy chanting off a list of things that need to be done and it gets increasingly louder if I try to push off it to priority two sections of my to-do list.

Sometimes I let it get a little loud because then I'm left with nothing to do except the writing.

Too much background noise:

Working for myself means working from home, except I'm not fortunate enough to have a cozy home office so my office nook is in my living room with my television, my boyfriend, my dog, and every opportunity for me to drift off into conversation, whatever is on tv, or easily take a writing break to pet my dog for an obscene amount of time.

Shiny Idea Syndrome:

Should I be working on admin things during my writing time? of course not. Do you know when I think of all the things that need to be added to the list of admin tasks? Would you like a hint? Oddly enough, focusing on admin tasks is easy so I'm not surprised why I'd rather move it up the list whenever I can.


The Internet:

I mean.. need I say more? It's here and youtube should probably be removed as a pre-loaded tab for my own sake. Medium articles can be saved for reading later and I don't actually need to shop for something right this second. I also have a subscription for almost every streaming service.

My willpower gets a daily workout.



I'll be the first to say that there are times when I am perfectly fine with giving in to my distractions either because I could use the time to clear my head between certain tasks or because I'm fine with doing the work later in the day for whatever reasons.


Most times though, I have to find ways to combat the voice in the back of my head telling me to grab another coffee, kick back, and watch three episodes of a show. Some days are easier than others but knowing when and how to cut it off the distractions is how I manage to keep getting things done.


Distraction Elimination tactics include but are not limited to:


Getting it out of the way:

The best way for me to avoid being distracted is to avoid leaving myself things I can be distracted by. I take heed of "Don't put off until later what you can do today" when it comes to most things and I'm all forgetting something done now if it means not having to do it later.

IT doesn't always work, but it minimizes what I'll allow to distract me.


Headphones:

I have always been someone who prefers wearing headphones because I enjoy that most people take it as a sign that you can't hear them and don't speak to me. At home, and any time I'm creating in general, I'm someone who likes the right kind of background noise for whatever I'm doing. Sometimes it's music, or a TV show, other times it's a Spotify playlist of thunderstorms to drown out whatever is distracting me.


Timed Work Sprints:

I don't always want to wear headphones and they don't always help. sometimes I just have to go at it ball tot he wall or I'm not going to do it at all. so I do exactly that. I set a timer and run at whatever the task is until it's done. I save making things pretty for later.


Self-reward System:

I'm incredibly good at convincing myself to work for a snack or an extra cup of coffee probably don't need but generally promising myself some refilling of the creative well is enough to get me to focus on my writing.

What are your biggest distractions when writing? How do you deal with them? let me know in the comments below.

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