Monday, October 20, 2014

Close the Window

It's funny how a deadline can reveal weaknesses in one's self discipline.

It makes you a little more conscious of how many times you raid the kitchen for a snack or walk out to the mailbox.

Then there's the desk straightening, and the sudden need to vacuum the dust bunnies underfoot. And the refrigerator. Just look at how dirty it is! It needs to be cleaned out. Right now, of course. 

What does one do when faced with so many distractions?

Here are a few things that have helped me: 

1) Ignore the phone. If nothing else, I screen calls. (That way, if someone calls to say I won a big writing award, I won't miss it.) I also mentally set aside "working time" and don't answer the phone.  Too many calls can hijack the day.

2) Dismiss the chores. I'm not saying that we should ditch housework, but sometimes things can wait. The sun will still rise tomorrow if the carpet doesn't get vacuumed today. But we won't get paid for the article if we miss a deadline because we got sidetracked chasing cobwebs. 

3) Reschedule the must-do-now distractions. The bookshelves that scream to be alphabetized? Tell them to hush. The overflowing file cabinet that's mocking you from the corner of the room? Don't stress over it. They will be there tomorrow.

4) Close the window.  The internet is by far my biggest distraction, like a tangent waiting to happen. I get WAY more done if I close it. 

These simple actions help me better manage my time. With a good balance of determination, self discipline, and flexibility, my writing stays on track.

What keeps you from your writing or other projects? Do you close the window? What helps you stay focused and get things done?

Happy writing,
Karen

33 comments :

  1. I don't think I've ever been so distracted by the smudged fridge door, but open those windows, and you are so right. I have just spent an hour of my morning perusing "goofy."

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  2. Ignoring the phone and the internet are good tips. If I need to get something done, I will intentionally leave my cell phone in my car or something so that I am not tempted to answer texts or calls.

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  3. Linda,
    I know, it can take you down so many rabbit trails - some good, others not so good! :)

    Keith,
    That's a good idea. I should turn my cell off when I am working, or at least put it on silent and out of my sight. :)

    Sandi,
    Thank you! Have a good week. :)

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  4. I'm doing that right now! I need to edit my WIP this week plus do some social media stuff so there go the chores and talking on the phone!

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  5. I adore that first line! I now use an old computer that just has word on it. --I have weak will power and will use that window if it's available.

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  6. I hand write everything first anyway, but it helps if I go sit somewhere else in the house and away from my desk. The computer is so distracting.

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  7. I can ignore all of that - just ask my wife!

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  8. Hi Karen! I get distracted when writing too. I usually quickly check my email. It calms me for some odd reason. I know avoiding the internet is your key, but it helps me. I also have long lists that get very interesting when I get blocked for ideas. "Look at all the stuff I should be doing!"

    Then, I might go ahead and do them, hoping for inspiration along the way. Or at least a break from writing for a while.
    I hope you get that phone call about an award very soon!
    Ceil

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  9. Terri,
    I am learning to stay better focused. It's not always an easy journey, especially when things pop up that you must deal with. Wishing you all the best with your editing. :)

    Holly,
    Thank you! I think that's a great idea - to use the old computer. Certainly cuts down on the internet interruptions, or should I say weaknesses? lol

    Diane,
    That's another good solution. I sometimes write things out first, so maybe should do more of it. :)

    Alex,
    Well then, I admire you tremendously! I am still a work in progress in this area. :)

    Ceil,
    I don't think any awards are heading my way soon! lol :) You bring up a good point - a distraction from writing sometimes can be a good thing, especially when you are stuck or just overloaded. Changing the "scenery" is often just the thing to inspire and refresh!

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  10. Amigo, these are excellent suggestions. I start wondering how those horseys are doing, and that's all she wrote. Boots go on, and I'm out the door. Especially at this time of year. :-) xoxo

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  11. Oh, what a timely post for me. I am easily distracted right now. It helps me if I set a timer and write for whatever time limit I've chosen--then I can (and should) get up to move around and then check email, etc. Knowing I have a break coming can help me stay focused.

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  12. At first I thought you meant I should close the window so the ducks and swans and geese didn't keep interrupting me. I keep looking out to see what they're doing instead of getting my work done. LOL. Okay, now I get you meant both windows: the one next to me and the one on my screen.

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  13. Yes to closing the window. Anytime I'm really writing, I close everything and try to only focus on my project. Too many distractions in this connected world.

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  14. Facebook is my biggest distraction. Closing that window is essential when I'm writing.

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  15. Oh yes, definitely, being OFF-LINE helps a lot to work focused!

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  16. Agree with Marja too about being off line. Haven't had a real 'time table' or 'work schedule' for quite some time. Keep trying to implement one and 'things' keep happening. Roll on winter and short days, long nights!

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  17. Robyn,
    Thanks a bunch! If I were in your shoes, I would do the same (checking on the horses:) and the next thing you know I'd be out riding. The weather has been just perfect for that!

    Susie,
    I like the timer idea! I push myself through to get to a certain point often, but I can see where the timer would be even better to help with that. Thanks for the tip!

    Joylene,
    Well, there is that window too! lol I have a window next to my desk, and I can get distracted with that too. No ducks, though. :) It doesn't take much to get me off course sometimes.

    Lee,
    That sums it up! The connected world, from phones to laptops, will draw you in and not let go if you let it.:)

    Susan,
    Yes, that is a big one. I make sure to close that window as well. When you have a ton of friends, well, you know how it goes! :)

    Marja,
    I admire those who can stay on task and not let it distract them. But I think there are more of us who fall into the distracted category! lol :)

    Anita,
    You are right, one thing at a time can help you get it done. What we do, especially where there are no outside deadlines, can require a lot of self discipline! :)

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  18. You nailed it, the internet in particular. Taking a FB break has been wonderful in many ways, the time factor not being the least.

    Way to go, putting it all in words for the rest of us.

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  19. Great thoughts. I'm pretty distracted by my kids. Yup. They're totally awesome though, so I wouldn't want to ignore them, know what I mean?

    Unleashing the Dreamworld

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  20. Karen: My distractions are as follows: Email, Facebook, Television. My hubby knows I like old movies, so does he. He lets me know if there is one I might want to see. Then he insists I watch it.

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  21. Rhonda,
    Oh yeah, the internet. It might as well be a giant vacuum, right? I think a break is a fabulous idea. Refreshing too, I am sure! :) Thanks so much, sweet friend.

    Crystal,
    Well, kids are kind of an exception - especially babies, right? And you'll soon have a sweet little bundle of distraction! What fun! :)

    Cecelia,
    Email and Facebook get me too sometimes. The tv isn't too bad, but I can get sucked in there too. Keep moving forward, right? :)

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  22. Karen, I know! The next 4.5 months can't go quickly enough. =)

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  23. Hi Karen - it's easy not to get the things we need to do done - as you so rightly say .. and I'm going to have a few hours shortly moving on in life ... and not being internet bound. So so true .. cheers Hilary

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  24. Great advice. My hardest thing is making people realize that I work at home. They continually interrupt me wanting me to do something with or for them. I am finally learning boundaries, but it is hard. xo Laura

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  25. Crystal,
    So excited for you! :)

    Hilary,
    I hear you - hope you got off and got some things done! I need to do that now too. What did we do before all this internet stuff, anyway? lol :)

    Laura,
    Thanks so much for stopping by and following. It's great to meet you! Thanks also for following. :) I too, am working on better boundaries with those kinds of things. It gets crazy otherwise!

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  26. What an excellent post! I definitely get distracted by the internet! I also get distracted by chores, and if I feel I can't go on I schedule a different time to get the chore done (this usually takes the chore off my mind). :)
    ~Jess

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  27. Everything you mentioned plus Candy Crush are the things that distract me. Oh, and reading blogs. =0) But there are 4 I read anyway, usually on Thursday. Guess who's one of them? Great post, Karen!

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  28. I always get sidetracked. This is a wonderful post with amazing tips and advice. Thanks.

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  29. Jess,
    Thanks so much! Chores distract me too. But sometimes they make the "must do" list for the day! Sometimes it is good to get it out of the way so then you can focus on writing. :)

    Susan,
    Yes, blogs can be a distraction, can't they? But they are a good and necessary one, i am thinking. :) So blessed to be among your favorites! The feeling is mutual!

    Nas,
    Thanks a bunch for your kind words! I too, am always getting sidetracked. Working on getting better. :)

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  30. I unplug the internet or take the laptop to the dining table. I'll also do a quickie clean-up job instead of taking my time on housecleaning.

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  31. Excellent tips, Karen! The best one is to stay off the internet when you have a writing deadline, or at least set the timer and make yourself do nothing but write for an hour, half an hour, whatever you choose. Use social media as a reward after you've completed your work for the day.

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  32. Medeia,
    Those are good ideas! I too, will neaten things up or deal with laundry first so that those items don't bug me while writing. :)

    Jen,
    Thank you! :) The internet is the worst, isn't it? The timer is a great idea, as is the social media reward thing!

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your input. Have a blessed day!