Organizing and prioritizing household chores, jobs, kids, and social life can become quite the juggling act when trying to fit a writing schedule and social media marketing campaigns into the mix.
Here are a few ways to manage distractions, so you get more done across the board:
- Identify and acknowledge your distractions. As you go through your day, notice what takes you away from whatever you’re trying to focus on. Do you feel the need to answer the phone every time it pings or rings? Are you spending way too much time looking for just the right background music? Are family members, pets, friends interrupting your flow when you’re trying to work?
- Consider making a list of things that distract you from your writing and then brainstorm ways to reduce or eliminate them. For example, choose a time for answering calls and texts, checking social media, and making sure kids and pets are fed and otherwise occupied so that you can write without interruption. Consider making a list of what you want to get done in the evening before bed. A little prep goes a long way in making it possible to get more done in a day, including more writing.
- Every once in a while, take a social media hiatus. I do this for large blocks of time sometimes, especially when editing or outlining a new book. Although – as a writer — it’s essential to have an online presence, it can be quite liberating to take a break from social media to take a vacation, renovate a room in your home, or plan and enjoy family events. Life happens, and sometimes you need or want a bit of a break. Just be sure to schedule downtime as with anything else and come back to the business of writing asap.
Remember to let everyone know (on social media and offline) that you will be on hiatus. Consider posting a pleasant visual, noting when you will be unavailable and when you’ll be back. Avoid giving notice of when you are going on vacation, however. That’s an open invitation to someone to visit your home while you’re away and clean you out. I mention what I am up to if I’m home but taking a break to do things like the barn/studio conversion, deep-editing a book, or need a couple of days to renovate the kitchen. You get the idea.
- Turn off wi-fi and notifications on all your devices while writing or working on writing-related projects. Especially avoid getting distracted by emails, texts, and social media. I only check my devices during my morning ‘wake-up’ ritual, then again at night after dinner. When I expect calls, the only exceptions are going back and forth with people from my creative team – editors, graphic designers, illustrators, etc. And that is only for a ‘must-do now‘ situations (sometimes I have to adjust to someone else’s avail., or to an emergency of some sort. It happens). For most of my work with other creatives from the team, each task is scheduled to keep me focused on what needs to be done — and in what order — so that I feel in charge of things and get more done.
- Focus on one task at a time. List-making comes in handy, especially when the goal is to accomplish more in less time, thus getting to the finish line as quickly as possible. Here’s my basic routine.
- I like to make my ‘to do’ lists the night before, so I’m ready to hit the ground running the next day.
- I prioritize the list and try to get the most challenging project out of the way first, so the rest of the day is smooth sailing.
- I break each project into smaller, doable pieces and highlight each task completed. Seeing all that yellow highlighting gives me a sense of accomplishment.
- Anything not finished by the end of the day, I incorporate into the next day’s ‘to-do’ list.
- Later, rinse, repeat. That’s pretty much how I get things done. With a bit of trial and error, you’ll find just the right way to organize and achieve your daily goals.
- What about the kids? Housework? The laundry?
I don’t have kids of my own but have had family members stay with me for extended periods, so I have learned how to work around children’s needs and my need to write. Know that you can negotiate things like chores and ‘me-time’ with family members so that you can make time for writings other than plotting their imminent demise after a day of non-stop distractions (I’m kidding…you know that, right? Although that sort of ongoing aggravation might be good fodder for writing a suspense thriller where you find a way to silence everyone who gets on your last nerve when you’re trying to get something done, muah haha!).
So, I happen to have an awesome hubby who is quite capable of cooking, cleaning, and entertaining pets and children. He didn’t necessarily come that way, but we’ve found a nice balance in how we get things done over the years.
For example, I load the washer and dryer. Steve unloads the dryer and folds. I put everything away. Sometimes he cooks. Other times, I cook. Often, we cook together. If I let him know asap when I need to work in the office instead of making dinner, he is quite adept at finding and preparing food. His skill-set includes using the phone to order take-out as well.
Depending on the kids’ ages (those staying with us at the time), they help with all chores (we are a family; Steve and I are not servants, and the kids are not living at a resort. Everyone pitches in. The reward is having self-sufficient, considerate children and having more time for fun stuff once the daily chores are out of the way).
It’s up to you to decide if you have to do everything yourself or if you can ask everyone to chip in where they can so that you have time to write.
I’m simply sharing what works for my family and me. You will have to find what works for you. Just know that it’s okay to ask for help and to ask for privacy when it’s time to write.
- Consider rewarding yourself after you complete a major project, like a book. I generally take a long weekend to sit by the ocean after finishing a book project (and no, I don’t do working vacations; When I work, I work. When I play or chill, I’m not working).
You could let the kids know that once you finish that magazine article, blog post, etc., everyone will go out for ice cream or have a family night together, enjoying pizza and a movie. Take the dog to the park or give him a nice belly rub. Rewards don’t have to be expensive. The gift of time is often all that’s needed to say, “Thank you for giving me the time and space I need to write.”
So, that does it for this post. Feel free to share stories or tips for how you deal with day-to-day distractions. Have a good one!