WordPress recently added this neat little feature called Distraction Free Writing. You click on this button on the right side of the content area on WordPress and magically all the sidebars in WordPress are removed. All you see is the content are where you need to type.
I think this is great. I don’t always write directly in WordPress, but most of the posts I write for GBW are written right in this content area. And I do get distracted by those sidebars while writing. It’s like my mind is looking for a distraction sometimes instead of writing.
Distraction #1: Phone Calls
And I’ve been looking at distractions in other areas of my life. One of the things I do that kind of drives people nuts is I don’t really answer my phone. I don’t like the distraction. You can call me. I probably won’t answer unless you catch me in the exact right mood for talking. That’s probably 10-20% of the time.
I will answer if it’s my wife and she’s out of the house doing something. You never know if it could be an emergency.
Instead, I like to schedule calls. And now I’m trying to do the same with email.
Distraction #2: Email
For the longest time I’ve always had my email open while working. Much of my day is spent working in browsers. I love it and I hate it. I like that most of the software I use is web-based now. I like that I can have my calendar and task list right there for me.
But by having my email open I’m always creeping an eye up to the top left of the browser to see that little (1) symbol. And if it’s there I have to stop whatever I’m doing to check and see what that little (1) is.
Now I’m starting to close my email during the day while I work on other things. As I write this post my email tab is closed. I find I can focus better and save a little time while writing.
I guess that’s an obvious benefit.
Distraction #3: Social Media, News, Video, Etc.
My other big distraction is all the news sties, blogs, social media and all kinds of other content on the web. I do need to do some browsing when I’m researching for posts, but I can easily find myself down a rabbit hole. During football season I might stop what I’m doing to read an article about the Packers. Or during golf season I might stop to watch a quick instruction video.
Or I’ll check Twitter to see what the people on there are sharing. It’s crazy and it can really be harmful to productivity.
I’m not sure entirely how to stop from doing this, but what I have found to work is to make those articles and videos kind of a reward. Maybe I’ll bring up a couple articles, but I won’t read them until I’m done with a task like writing this post or another post. Or answering some emails.
Then once that’s done I kind of have a little reward for completing that task.
I do think distractions can be good. It’s hard to have your head down working nonstop for 8 hours or whatever during the day. I find that I can do well in short 20-30 minute bursts. I can work on something full out with my full attention then I can step away for a 1-5 minute break. Then I come back and do something again.
There are times when I’ll go all out for an hour or even a few hours. That seems to be fine too. I just notice that I’m a little more exhausted after days like that.
Will we ever be without distraction in life? I don’t think so, but I’ve found that eliminating some unnecessary distractions from life can be beneficial. The ones above have helped me a little over the last few months and I’m going to look for more ways to optimize my day so I’m creating the most value while enjoying life as well.