Do you ever sit down at your computer with every intention of dutifully hammering away at your WIP, but a little notification pops up that immediately pulls you away? It could be anything, from an email to a tweet. You click on the little notification, keeping in mind that you will allow the distraction for just a second before you dive back into that manuscript. That second turns into five minutes, and that five minutes quickly evolves into an hour long discussion with a friend about the terrible ending to Game of Thrones the previous night. By the time you come back to your project, the inspiration has passed.
It’s happened to be best of us. We don’t exactly surround ourselves in a distraction free environment, but we expect to complete our projects in a timely manner. Here’s my list of the top five common distractions for writers, followed by tips that can hopefully help you create a truly distraction free workplace.
- Notification Center
Did you notice a trend in my top five? All of them are websites, and the first three involve social networking. Bottom line, the Internet is filled with tempting distractions that keep us from the task at hand.
Fortunately, there are a number of tools available to help get us back on target and focused.
StayFocusd (Chrome extension). This productivity extension for Google Chrome restricts the amount of time you can spend on time-wasting websites.
Anti-Social (Mac only). Anti-Social keeps you focused by turning off the “social parts” of the Internet, such as Facebook, Twitter and any other sites you specify.
Freedom. This app locks you away from the Internet for up to eight hours at a time.
SelfControl (Mac only). SelfControl blocks email and websites for a predetermined period of time.
Yarny As far as free services go, Yarny is a personal favorite of mine. It has a place for you to store thoughts, undeveloped story ideas, or whatever you want. It’s right there and readily accessible for you to begin writing. When you are ready to go distraction free, there is a fullscreen option to allow you to focus on your writing. Yarny works with Linux, Mac (Snow Leopard, Mountain Lion, and Lion), Windows (XP, Vista, 7, and 8).
It can be galling to admit how much time we waste during a typical workday; but with these productivity tools at hand (and a little bit of will power), you should be able to make any computer-related task the unchallenged focus of your attention.