Sunday, 13 April 2014

Struggling With Self- Discipline?

I am very easily distracted. I admit to it. I am a scatterbrain. If I don't get into my 'writing zone' my mind tends to drift and before I know it hours have slipped out of my grasp. Don't get me wrong- it's not that I don't want to write or that I don't enjoy it, it's more of case that my attention can wander when I'm trying to concentrate. There is just so much noise and technology around us that sometimes it can drag us away from what we want to be doing.

Image from Google


I once read an interesting analogy about concentration being a lot like a dog on a lead. We are trying to go in one direction but the dog is pulling us another way and, if we don't have enough control over it, we end up letting it lead us down the wrong route.

So how do we solve this? It's impossible not to get distracted at all- in fact some of the best writing ideas I've had have come from being distracted- but it's important to not let distractions stop you from doing the things that need to be done.

One of the best ways to overcome distractions is to observe yourself and to take note of what things tend to pull you away from your task. I did this myself yesterday and ended up with the following:

  • Youtube- At first I just went on to play a bit of background music while I looked over the plan of the ebook I'm writing but, before I knew it, I had watched over eight music videos and however other many pointless things... Not a good start...
  • Facebook and Email- It was meant to be a quick check, honest! I just wanted to have a glance and see if I was missing anything important... so what if it was five times?
  • The internet in general, really- The internet is the enemy!
  • TV- A movie sucked me in.
  • Kindle- Books, right there, right next to me- how can I resist, right? Right?
Any of these sound familiar? The thing is, they're all pretty easy to access- especially if you're working on a computer, laptop etc. where so many things are available at the click of a mouse.

After feeling pretty disappointed and disgruntled at my lack of progress yesterday, I decided to have a good think about when I did my best writing and when I could really sit down and focus. It turned out to be in the evenings. Why? Because in the evenings, after I've eaten and had a rest after work, I know that it's time to write. It's a routine that's been in place since my last year of sixth form but I hadn't really considered how I did this before yesterday.

So how do I introduce this 'writing time' into my weekends? I cut out the distractions.

While it's important to still give myself some free time to relax and enjoy the break from work, it's also important to make the most of the time available and to use it to it's advantage. So, here are my new top tips for getting rid of distractions and learning how to get your head down- whether that be in regards to writing, designing or anything else you need to do.
  1. Get up early. I can almost hear the groans! Yes, it may be the last thing that you want to do on your days off but, after comparing my attitude this morning to my attitude yesterday morning, I can easily say that getting up earlier does help! I feel less groggy and could enjoy my morning a lot more. Did I mention that I got a lot more done too?
  2. If you know you're in the same room as something that is going to distract you either move it (or yourself) out of reach or out of the room. Seriously, I cannot stress this enough! While it may be difficult to do this with things such as the internet (unless you're willing to shut off the Wi-Fi), having anything that may drag you away from the task at hand needs to go. Now.
  3. Give yourself time limits. If you're doing something or just relaxing but know that you need to do a particular task, set a number of minutes that you will allow yourself to take time out or set a time that you want to start this task. Do not deviate from this time! It takes real determination to use this method. The obvious disadvantage to this is that if you start giving yourself 'five more minutes' it will soon morph into half an hour then an hour then an hour and a half...
  4. Set yourself a target for the task. Whether that be a word count or having a section of something done- give yourself a main focus. What's more if time is starting to run away from you and you realise that you still haven't done the target for that day, it may just give you the kick up the bum you need!
  5. Reward yourself. You're meant to be enjoying what you're doing and if you aren't then think of the end goal. Treat yourself for the little victories- for example, as soon as I finish this post I'm going to grab a biscuit and a drink. If you complete your word count, go and blast out your favourite song or go and watch an episode of your favourite show. If you complete a design or finish organising something, go and run yourself a hot bath or phone a friend. Recognise that you have done what you've set out to do and that you should be commended for that! Likewise, if you've finished doing something that you really didn't want to do- give yourself a giant pat on the back, you got through it!
I'm going to try these out myself and I hope that you'll join me in whatever the task is that you do- whether that be decorating, unpacking, whatever! Try it for a couple of weeks and see if they make any difference- you never know, you may get a lot more done!