We live in a very distracting world. As a creative, it is so ridiculously easy to come up with an excuse – any excuse, really – to avoid working on the project we know we are supposed to be working on.
- “A friend called and I had to take it…”
- ” I have so many errands to run today…”
- “I just can’t write with the kids around…”
- I have other work I have to get done first…”
- “I am almost done binging this season of (fill in the blank), and then I’ll get started…”
The real problem is that we allow ourselves to get distracted because we invite in distractions. We don’t protect ourselves, and our projects suffer for it. Distractions will never go away, so you have to protect your writing time and space. For the creative person, minimum is maximum.
Minimum Distractions = Maximum Results
So how do you create a distraction-free zone to work in?
- Clear the schedule. Pick a time and day when you know you don’t have to compete with errands, work or kids. Now, I can hear your mind whispering, “Those things never go away. There will never be time.” Dirty…rotten…lies. Don’t let them distract you or fool you! There is always time – if you make time. You can find a hour or a block of time where you can escape into your creative space. And once you get there, “lock the door” (metaphorically or literally, if necessary) and keep the distractions out. If the project is important to you, you will find the time.
- Pick a spot where you are confident you won’t run into someone you know. This not Cheers. You don’t want to go somewhere where everybody knows your name. There is nothing worse than finally finding your flow, only to hear, “Funny seeing you here!” In the 15-20 minutes it takes to get yourself out of that conversation, you have lost your flow. So pick a spot (not your neighborhood coffee shop) where you can be blissfully anonymous and get down to work!
- Less is more. You don’t need to bring a bunch of stuff with you into your creative space. It just ends up becoming distracting clutter – clutter you will find yourself rearranging on the table for no reason. To be honest, the only items you really need are a computer (for research and writing only), a journal or a notebook, a pen and room on your table for coffee.
- Leave the phone behind or turn it on Do Not Disturb. Phones are the worst culprits when it comes to immediate distractions. The temptation for scrolling your social media feed or responding to text messages can be too strong to ignore. Don’t feel bad. We all struggle with it. But do yourself a favor, and shut it down or leave it behind. The world can wait a while.
- Just say no. It is inevitable. The minute you decide to get serious and get started, someone will ask you to do something fun. Here is where you have to put your “adulting” pants on and say… “No thanks, maybe another time.” It’s hard, I know. But remember why you’re saying no. You’re saying “no” so you can say “yes” to the work that you were made to do.
Only you can protect the time needed to create your dreams. Be distraction free when creating, and remember, minimum is maximum.
Ok… like 95% of the time. I mean, come on. You have to leave at least a 5% margin for coffee and snacks. Hey, it’s brain fuel.