Yesterday, I brewed a fresh pot of coffee. It was enough for two cups, which is about what I can get through before it goes foul on the burner. I poured my first aromatic cup and it smelled fantastic. I use a larger cup and usually fill it about half full, but this time I filled it a little extra (which left not too much in the bottom of the pot).
Moving on to work, I was in the zone and cranking along, completely forgetting about the second (not quite a) cup in the coffee pot. Hours later, I went back to the kitchen not only forgetting that I had coffee on the burner, but I was actually thinking I’d had two cups and was coming back to brew fresh.
What greeted me was that situation where the water has burned off leaving a burnt, sticky goo in the bottom of the pot. And it smelled of burnt coffee.
Distractions Can Kill Quality
So, what is the point of this story? Don’t brew coffee and work at the same time? Not exactly. There is a lesson in all of this.
This is about distractions and what they do to your work flow and productivity. While this really happened, it also makes a good analogy of writing or blogging, where distractions can keep you from productive work. The end result of the distractions is a burnt, brown, foul smelling, sticky goo.
If you have read “how-to” guides from anyone who is successfully generating income from their writing, you will find that they will tell you that two of the important keys are quality and consistency. I would tell you the same thing.
If you want to produce quality work on a consistent basis, you absolutely must avoid distractions!
The distractions come when I am writing and researching at the same time. When I do that, I end up going down a rabbit trail that has nothing to do with the original topic. My brain is operating out in front of everything else thinking of future topics and related posts. The next thing I know, I have written nothing and I’ve wasted a couple hours of quality and productive time.
This includes getting sidetracked with social media. I can easily find myself looking at Twitter, thus following some new folks, and digging into their sites.
What is the Solution?
The best way for me to avoid distractions is keeping the research and the writing separate. I keep a notebook of ideas. Going old school, I use a pencil to jot down ideas (remember pencils?). This keeps me off the Internet for generating my ideas and outlines.
I do research online. But I add to my notes in my notebook while I am doing it. This keeps me focused and on-track.
When I sit down to do begin drafting my articles, I don’t do it “online.” So, if you are using WordPress or some other blogging software, this means I don’t write in my browser. It’s just too tempting to open another tab and look something up, taking me off the target. I do the whole process “off-line.”
If I hit something that needs expansion or further research, I notate that in my notebook. That way, when I have another research session, I can make some additional notes for the next draft.
This process continues until I have crafted the full article and final draft. It keeps me focused on tasks and makes me more productive with the limited time I have.
Do you have problems with distractions? What works for you in avoiding distractions and being productive?