Productivity and Writing

Distractions Down, Writing Productivity Up

Are you an author, leader, or professional who is required to write reports?  If you’re, in and out of the workforce, you may also be engaged in creative writing projects. However keeping distractions down while writing has a unique set of  challenges that inhibit productivity, and for the vast majority of authors,  distractions and interruptions put you at a big disadvantage.

Often, the situation is most severe when writing in an office or cubicle. Constant interruptions stop the creative juices from flowing.   But those who write from a home office you may have equally frequent interruptions.  It could be a blaring television, barking dog, bickering family members or deliveries.  Other times, you get lost on the Internet or phone or other household temptations like snacking or hobbies.

As an author, I am constantly battling distractions.  Heck, we all are.  Life is hectic and there are lots of demands on our attention from television to cell phone to email and people.

If You’re Blocked, Take a Break

You may also find, at times, that you’re just plain blocked.  Not a word flows out.  I experience this as well.   My strategy at such times, is to mentally get away from it all; to tune out from the rest of the world and tune into my thoughts.

Many authors try to push and “just tough it out and keep going,” but instead of creative and smooth writing it can create stale, almost sounding scripted or cliché type of writing.

Make Appointments With Yourself

Timing is everything.  I have to make appointments with myself so that I complete a particular writing task in a distraction-free (and pleasant) setting. I label that, “The No Fly Zone.”  When your subconscious mind “knows” you’ll be keeping a writing “appointment” with yourself, often your mind just works on the flow in the background while you’re off getting away.  When you come back to the appointed time words may much more easily flow out of you.

Create a Positive and Productive Writing Setting

You need strategies to avoid this distractions and interruptions barrier by deliberately creating a situation that prevents them. This allow you to gain the focus and concentration necessary to tap into your creativity and use your technical skills.

Just how do you create a structured, pleasant, and non-distracting setting in which to work?

Here are some tips for creating the best conditions for writing:

  1. Set a time period to write when you are usually most alert.
  2. Commit to between 30- to 90-minutes writing periods, with brief breaks every 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. Schedule a regular writing time on your calendar, perhaps 2 to 3 times a week.
  4. Find a quiet, non-distracting setting that is different from the one in which you usually work. Designate this place as the writing nook or sanctuary. It can be located in a basement, library, or coffee shop, depending on your personal needs and style.
  5. Enhance the pleasantness by using energizing fragrances such as evergreen, writing with colored pens or choosing interesting font or paper.
  6. Get comfortable. Use a cushioned chair, wear a favorite soft jacket, and put on a working hat or visor.
  7. Ensure that there is room to spread out and have easy access to materials or resources.
  8. Consider other locations based on the type of writing task that needs to be accomplished. For example, you might go to a library when you need to develop new ideas or work out a problem and go to a coffee house when writing less complex or detailed work.

Try This:

What about you? If you have writing projects that need to be completed, try this practical application in the next week:

  • Ask questions such as:
    • When was the last time I wrote in an effective way?
    • Under what conditions did this writing occur?
    • Is the setting that I’m using now contributing to progress toward my writing goals?
    • How can I enhance the setting in which I write in terms of lighting, noise, interruptions, or visual distractions?
  • Experiment with 1 or 2 other settings, perhaps with better light, less noise, fewer interruptions, etc.
  • Make a list of the conditions that seem to be most conducive to staying on a positive writing track.

Whether writing for professional or creative endeavors, reduce the distractions and find a pleasant place to focus and concentrate. Once the distractions are reduced, you’ll enjoy greater productivity.

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