You want to get on with your creative work but your family are going crazy around you.
Your phone seems to rule your life.
You’ve just read yet another blog which is telling you that you’re doing it all wrong and you must buy a course now for instant success.
If your creative ambition exceeds the time you have available it is easy to go in ever decreasing circles trying to find the best way to fit it all in. You find yourself busily going nowhere.
How can you shut out all of these distractions and focus on producing quality work which satisfies your soul and makes you proud?
In the internet world all of this distraction is called ‘content’ and there’s a LOT of it out there.
Scolding yourself for being so bad at focus wastes precious mental energy. The tech companies know how to hook us and our brains are wired to latch onto something bright and shiny. Instead, employ the tips below to mitigate against these diversions.
7 ways to focus and shut out distractions
- Recognise that there is a lot of noise out there and you can’t do it all using everybody’s secret methodology.
- Unsubscribe from newsletters which overwhelm you with stuff you think you should be doing but don’t want to or aren’t able to at the moment.
- Unfollow people on social media if they are making you feel stressed and overwhelmed. You can always go back and follow them in the future when you reach a point where you are ready for their message.
- If you’ve bought a course or you are following a set method – keep going with it through to the conclusion of the piece of work you are currently working on.
- Create before you consume – I learned this from Marie Forleo and it proves to be a useful mantra to repeat every time I open an internet browser or pick up my smartphone. I’ve written about this here.
- Turn off all notifications from your phone. Remove distracting apps or, if you can’t stomach that, take them off the front screen.
- Put your phone in another room when you are working.
Know your goals
Knowing what you want to really want to achieve will help with focus. If you have several projects on the go, choose which one you want to make the most progress with in the next 30 days and focus on that.
Any activity that you undertake will either take you closer to that goal or away from it.
This might mean not doing something. I used to write two blogs a month for The Gentle Creative but I cut that down to once a month because I needed to focus on my novel. I should have edited and published this blog last month but I didn’t because I was editing a new ebook and didn’t want to split my focus. I don’t like messing up my blogging rhythm but sometimes you have to sacrifice one project for the good of another.
Learn to say No
Learn to say No to requests of your time. This won’t always make you popular but it will help you carve out more space to be creative. This blog has some useful tips.
Focus on the input not the outcome
You can’t control the outcome of your work, only what you put into the process. If you’re feeling like you’re not achieving much then keep a daily, weekly or monthly log of what you have done. Over time you will see that you are making progress.
Remember that comparing yourself to other people is an easy road to misery. We compare the best of them (or what we perceive as the best from their social media brags) to the worst of ourselves.
Do you best to focus on your work. Sometimes you will have ninja-like concentration and other times you will struggle. The key is to keep going through the times of struggle. Accept that you might have blown twenty minutes on the internet but try and make the remaining minutes of your creativity session productive.
If you can do creative work little and often then you will make progress.
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