My attention span is shorter than I am (5'3'' FYI) and it is a struggle when trying to get things done that need my undivided attention. I have improved over time and tried different ways to stop procrastinating and start getting the work done in front of me. Here are some things that help me focus when writing a blog post (or focus on anything for that matter).
Listen to White Noise
I love listening to music or having YouTube on in the background. Even when I make dinner or get in the shower my iPad comes with me so I have something to watch - I am an ultimate multi-tasker in this sense.
I have gotten used to never being in silence, and to be honest I like it that way. I like some background noise and a screen moving in my peripherals. When I first started writing blog posts I would try and keep my favourite YouTube videos on but I would end up just watching them and ignore what I was meant to be doing. Then I tried music but once again, it was still distracting me. I really don't like being in silence and although I can focus more in silence than I can with a video or music on after a while I get a strange, almost lonely feeling (anyone relate to this?)
Now I have found the best of both worlds. I have started YouTubing "Scene Videos". I am not sure if this is their correct name but basically they are videos that are a few hours long just of a particular scene with the camera in one place. So I could be watching a beach scene, a crackling fire, a river or the jungle. My favourite around Christmas is snowfall outside a window. They are the best things ever and there are literally hundreds to choose from depending on what you like to watch.
The calming but natural noises they make in the background soothe and keep me focused but I also get the small bit of movement in the corner of my eye that I like. Also if I am struggling with what to write, looking into these scenes really help me think.
The Silent Watcher on YouTube has loads of great videos like these. See them here. Or you can just search, for example, "Beach Scene" on YouTube and see what you like the look of.
Get Everything You Need Done Before
There is nothing worse than getting your head down and really getting into the flow when you realise you forgot to put the washing on, or the dog is whining because you didn't let her out to pee. This can kill our focus instantly. University Professor Gloria Mark stated that following a study they carried out on Task Switching it can take an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to your task. (See the full interview here) That is a lot of time wasted.
Before you set down and get on with your work, make sure you get everything done before. You don't want any distractions to stop your creativity flowing. Obviously, things will crop up but if we can minimize them as much as possible then your time will be a lot better spent.
If there is always something that happens halfway through your work that throws you off, maybe create a little checklist for yourself to complete before you start. This will ensure you know that everything has been done and you can carry on with your work with no worries and no distractions.
Turn Your Phone On Airplane Mode
If your phone pings, what is the first thing you do? You look at it. You just can't help yourself. Once your phone has your attention it is very difficult to get it back on the task at hand and can be detrimental to your work. I know you don't want to miss out on anything but are you really missing out at all? Nothing bad is going to happen if you switch your phone off for an hour or two. If you have worked in retail or somewhere similar you know that you can't have your phone with you for hours at a time. Just think of it the same way.
Even if you try to not let it distract you and you don't look at your phone, when it pings it will snap you out of that focus. You will glance at it and have a conflict in your head of whether you should pick it up or not. This is still a distraction.
The best thing to do is just not allow the pings in the first place. This means that you are never reminded that your phone is there and you can just get on with your work and not have that pinging noise every five minutes putting you off. So just switch it off and forget about it. I bet it will feel refreshing too.
Try Changing your Surroundings
I live at home with my mum so all my work is done in my bedroom at my vanity desk. The same desk that I put my makeup on in the morning, the same room I sleep in. My room contains almost everything I own and everything I own just calls out to me each time I try to focus.
I know a lot of us can't do a lot about it but I think it is important to at least try and mix up where we work. If you have your own place you can put a desk in another room where you only focus on work and nothing else. Or you can go to a cafe, or even a park if the weather permits.
Not only is it changing location but also just tidying up around your self. If you are in a cluttered room or things are piled up on either side of your keyboard you are not going to be able to really get stuck into your writing. I don't know about you but having an untidy space makes me feel super stressed out. Just put things away and keep everything tidy and you will be amazed at what a difference it makes. Invest in some gorgeous desk storage (I have linked some of my favourites below) and be proud of your space.
Read Out Loud
I often find that I can write differently to how I speak if I keep everything inside my head. I can then read it all back and it won't make sense or it just doesn't sound like me. Reading out loud can make what you are writing flow easier and will also show if you have made any mistakes or need to add anything. Also, have you ever been reading a book where you finished an entire page and then realised that you didn't even take in one word of it? When you read out loud you are intentionally saying each word so you know exactly what it is you are writing and take notice of every sentence and every word.
Also, sometimes it really helps by recording what you want to write so you have a true idea of how you would say it in person, then typing it out once you listen to it back. I know it can be tough sometimes to hear your own voice on a recording but you will get used to it, and you never know you might get so good at it you will want to start a podcast.
So these are the things I do every time I sit down to write a blog post or do any work that involves me to give my full attention. What is your biggest distraction when you are trying to work?