What distracts you from blogging?
What stops you writing that killer blog post when you sit down at your laptop or pick up your tablet?
Let me guess…
Social media? Kids? Office gossip?
I work from home, usually alone, so for me it’s Facebook. It’s just too easy to get drawn into conversations isn’t it?
For remote workers, bloggers and freelancers who use the internet for work, there are distractions everywhere. Here’s another one of mine.
In today’s post, I want to tell you about some of the methods I use (or I’ve read about) that help me focus on nothing but blogging when I sit down at my laptop to work on one of my blogs or do some client work.
1) Go full-screen
This really works for me because it hides all those open tabs, colourful bookmarks and add-on icons over on the right-hand side of the screen. No longer am I tempted to click them during a lull in the blogging process.
It’s way better than WordPress’s distraction-free writing option too. Especially if you’re using a front-end editor, as I do.
By the way, if you haven’t used this plugin before, I strongly urge you to try it out. In short, you edit your posts within the browser, so you can see EXACTLY how your post will look when it’s live. No more switching to preview mode. Brilliant!
2) Disconnect from the internet
I know there’s a good chance you might need it for research, or even composing a post inside of WordPress, but honestly, if you can disconnect you will reduce the chances of distraction by a significant amount, maybe 100%.
Split-up research, writing and editing into three separate tasks and do them over different days.
Kevan Lee from Buffer, wrote a post entitled How the Hell Buffer Creates So Much Content So Quickly. In it he talks about the typical three-day percolation process each blog post goes through.
Day one belongs to research, day two to writing and day three belongs to editing. I like this process. I tend to follow something similar.
Once you have all the research material you need, on days two and three, switch off your wireless connection and open your offline editor (Word, for me) then get to work.
3) Use a website blocking tool
If you really must stay connected, try installing a website blocker to stop you visiting nominated sites at certain times of the day.
Blocking Twitter and Facebook might not be ideal if you’re a social media manager, but if you own a bakery, it sure should would help a lot (get the reference?).
4) Close the door
It sounds so simple doesn’t it?
I can’t tell you how much difference it makes. Not only does it block sound reaching you, it keeps the heat in and it sends a message to people around you.
In my case, my partner and little boy.
If they see a closed door they know I’m busy and don’t want to be disturbed. It works almost every time.
If you work in a busy environment, try finding a small office away from the hustle and bustle, go in, open up your laptop and shut the door.
Let your colleagues know your out-of-bounds, unless something really urgent crops up, while you’re working on the blog you’re writing.
5) Listen to music
A little counter-intuitive perhaps, but it works for a lot of people.
For me, it’s got to be relaxing, chilled music. Usually instrumentals or songs with few lyrics. The last thing I want during a blogging session is sing-a-long.
Here’s a lovely track by Jami Sieber, which is typical of the kind of music I listen to while blogging.
(Most of the time, I write in silence.)
It’s got to be through headphones or ear-buds too, at least for me.
6) Write when it’s quiet
Working from home? Early morning or late in the evening might be a good time for you to blog.
I’m writing this sentence at precisely 4.38am. My son and partner are sleeping, there’s very little chance of the phone ringing and I can hear the birds tweeting.
There’s not much chance of getting distracted.
Getting up so early might not work for you. If it doesn’t, pick a quiet time of the day in your house and slot your blogging into that time.
7) Close your email client already
Surely this is a no-brainer?
Nope, thought not.
And yes, I’m guilty too.
If you have your email client open while you’re blogging, I bet you can’t resist the urge to check it every few minutes. Maybe your computer makes a little beeping sound when a new email arrives?
Honestly, shutting down email is quite possibly the best thing you can do to improve your rate of “getting things done”.
Including blogging, but excluding answering emails!
No concessions here. No little tips on what you can do if you must have email open. Shut the damn program and get on with writing some shit. Email can wait.
Tidbit – I’m currently running a little experiment on productivity. I open my email client first thing in the morning to see what’s there, then I close it again until 1pm. In the meantime, I work on the stuff that matters.
8) Switch off your smartphone
Do you remember the olden days, before mobile phones? We all got by.
The world never ground to a halt because we missed a call – it’s time to get some of that back.
Switching off your smartphone will stop you sneakily accessing Facebook if your website blocker is switched on and your internet switched off.
If it’s important, the caller will leave a message. If they don’t, it was probably a major distraction neatly avoided. Go you!
The biggest benefit to reducing distractions is getting things done, without losing your train of thought, in the time you’ve allocated to the task.
If you plan on spending two hours writing a blog post, spend those two hours writing the thing. Don’t get caught up in office chit-chat or following a Twitter hashtag.
Finding a system that works for you will need some testing. Once you have a system in place it will no doubt need some fine-tuning.
When you finally nail down a fool-proof process, stick to it until it stops working. When it does, look for weak spots. They’ll be there, you just have to know what you’re looking for.
When you find the weak links, strengthen them and bring back the productive you.
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