Have you ever faced a situation when the day comes to an end, but you still haven’t finished the text that you have planned for today? You can blame yourself, your fate, your client, or a house elf. But in fact, most of such undone tasks lie in the lack of focus.
Nowadays, it is a great deal to focus on one task. Every time you start doing something, the phone starts to vibrate from the flow of incoming messages and notifications from social networks. Also, when you use the internet, you are surrounded by various temptations. I frequently suffer from the following thing: I start writing the article, then I open a browser to find more information on the topic, and finally, I find myself reading about deoxyribonucleic acid after an hour. Sounds familiar?
Nearly all of us dream of a universal recipe that will make us stay focused, write immediately and productively. In truth, though, there is none. I have tried out various methods found over the internet and want to share with you those that have worked in my case. Maybe, my experience will help you get more focused and tuned into writing.
1. Clean up the workplace
Your workplace may directly affect your productivity. Favorite mini-figures of superheroes, family photos, a bunch of colored papers, tangled cables, a couple of unfinished cups of coffee. Don’t give the mess a chance to get rid of you!
Messy or clean desktop – is an endless battle
Get cables in order, buy the most beautiful cup and make it one and only for your drinks, and keep only the necessary things on your table. Use organizers to store your writing stuff and materials in one place and by hand. If you enjoy keeping hand-written notes, inspirational phrases, and pictures before eyes, use inspirational boards that you can buy in-store or make by yourself. Hang it near your workplace and enjoy!
Cleaning your table from useless and distracting things will clean your thoughts and tune into the work. Let cleaning the workplace be your everyday ritual.
2. Tidy up the desktop from applications and files
In the ideal world files like Untitled1.doc or Mind_Blowing_Article_v.2.0 are renamed and kept in the appropriate folder on your computer, not on your desktop. I have a bad habit of storing current (and old) files on my desktop. But when I finally put everything in the right place, I can’t help feeling the freshness and inspiration.
Compare these two screenshots of before cleaning and after. Feel the difference?
It is a good habit to make a big clean-up on your computer once a week or month. Clean the desktop and downloads the directory, delete old files and duplicated documents. I prefer to place the necessary application shortcuts in the taskbar for quick access.
3. Mute your mobile phone
It’s hard not to check your phone every hour
Unless you are waiting for an urgent call, turn your mobile off. At least turn off notifications. Nowadays, most phones have an option to pick the contacts you wish to receive calls and messages from.
If you have an iPhone, you can use a “do not disturb” feature. To manage this feature, tap Settings > Do Not Disturb. Here you can set a specific time when you want to turn off notifications. Also, you can create a list of important contacts to receive calls from them. Check your phone for similar features.
If you still feel the passion for checking your mobile, try to reduce this habit with a new one. For example, I write several random phrases or words on paper sheets and move to the trash.
4. Block time-consuming websites
How much time do you spend on Facebook, Pinterest, and other time-wasting websites? On the one hand, many of them may be helpful for finding necessary information and inspiration for your articles. On the other side, it turns into a monster that eats time when you need to focus on writing.
To get rid of such websites, use one of the following extensions for the Chrome browser:
StayFocused, Strict Workflow – block the list of websites that distract you from work. You can manage the list by adding and deleting websites. The application is based on the Pomodoro technique that aims to improve productivity by alternating 25 minutes of work and 5 minutes of break.
Go F*ckingWork is a humorous but still useful extension that will keep you from distracting websites.
You can find similar extensions for other browsers in the productivity extensions section. And one more recommendation. Don’t keep several browsers on your computer. You may be tempted to open the desired website in another one.
5. Use simple text editing applications and online services
The primary aim of every writer is to write the text. If you are tired of the additional features and the bulk interface of your current text editor, try to use simple online editors and programs. Here are the most popular programs and charge-free services:
Calmly Writer. It’s an online text editor and also works as a Chrome extension. When you launch Calmly Writer, it will show you only the text entry area and nothing else. The format bar appears after you select the text. To access other options, you will need to click the menu button. The application automatically saves the document after you make any change. As a bonus for those who are in love with typewriters, you can turn on the typewriter sound.
FocusWriter. It is a simple writing environment available for Linux, Windows, and macOS. A simple interface, distraction-free writing text field, and intuitive design will be a savior for those who strive for simplicity. It’s free of charge and will meet the most demanding requirements of essay writers.
Zen Pen. Another one simple online text editor without superpowers. You have an option to save your text on your computer, format the text, set target word count, and switch day/night writing mode. Developers guarantee you a minimum of distractions.
6. Set deadlines and plan your time ahead
All great things start with careful planning. The plan helps to know your strength, stay focused on current tasks, and do everything on time. Planning is essential both for your work and personal life.
Take a habit to make to-do lists every day. If you are writing a voluminous work, write in parts and set daily goals for the word count. It’s a perfect formula for being a productive writer. Also, set the deadline. For many people, the deadline is the best tool to make something happen. So if you set yourself a deadline for a specific task – you raise the chance to do it.
Use the most convenient planning tool: notebook, planner, calendar, browser extension, or desktop/mobile application. Here are the most popular tools:
Todoist. It’s a time-planner available as a mobile application, browser extension, and as a taskbar on PC and Mac. It’s a great tool to gather your recent and prospective tasks and goals in one place.
Wunderlist. A simple to-do list. Application available on various devices: iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, Chrome, and Kindle.
TeamweekButton. This extension will be helpful for those who work with services like GitHub, GitLab, Trello, Jira, Asana, Bitbucket, and Podio.
Win the Day. An eye-catchy Chrome extension that may help you achieve short- and long-term goals. You can set goals, daily targets, track the progress, and implement new habits.
7. Listen to the music
When your neighbors are too loud, or traffic sounds make you feel irritated, you need something to stay focused. The music can be a rescue. You may find out that one music serves well for brainstorming, while other help you keep doing routine tasks. Try out playlists created by other people or create one on your own
8. Use a recorder
It’s a great way to record your thoughts while doing various things. For example, if you suddenly have caught a brilliant idea while writing an article, record it on a dictaphone. On the one hand, you can open a new file on your computer or write it by hand on a piece of paper. But I prefer to use a voice recorder – it’s my single place for my ideas and inspiration. It is easier to come back to writing after talking than turning from one writing to another. As if I will start writing something new, I will skip doing what I have planned. If you suffer from the same thing, try a voice recorder.
9. Learn to meditate
Meditation and mindfulness have become an essential part of those who keep with the progressive evolution. Today, many people practice meditation: office workers, artists, soldiers, scientists, athletes, and other people. It is an excellent non-pharmacological tool that helps improve attention, memory, verbal functions, and cognitive flexibility. Meditation is easy and doesn’t require specific knowledge. You can use meditation at your workplace, in the park, or on the way home. You won’t look strange or suspicious. If you haven’t practiced it yet, try it now!
- Choose a comfortable position: sit or lie. Keep your back straight if you sit.
- Breathe deeply. Mentally go through every part of your body with every breath you take. Start from the tips of your shoes and move up to the top of your head.
- Try to feel all your body parts. Relax your body and fuel it with energy. Feel the warmth and calmness.
You can use such applications as Current, which will remind you when it’s time to meditate. Make it your habit.
All the methods from this article are a part of my daily struggle for being focused and productive. Sometimes they work, sometimes not. All in all, we are not machines. Try out different productivity approaches, experiment, and find those that work for you best. What does help you stay focused? What methods have you already tried?
Bio: Florence Clark is an aspiring writer and passionate traveler. Become a professional journalist is her biggest dream.
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