Time-wasting distractions are one of the productivity killers for bloggers, freelancers, writers, and other entrepreneurial or self-employed people. Avoiding distractions has been something that I’ve written about before, but never in a direct manner; but today we will discuss distractions head on.
Television: The Mental Distraction
Plopping down in front of the television is probably the single biggest time waster that you can find. Unfortunately, a person (at least in the United States) pays on average $70/month for cable. That may not sound like a lot, but that’s $840/year. Could you find something to do with $840 that might be more productive?
Aside from the cost, consider that a lot of people who have cable also can’t seem to find the time to run a successful business. Ever wonder why that is?
It’s a little bit dated, but Neil Postman’s book “Amusing Ourselves To Death“ is still a very popular book, and for good reason. Postman saw television as the modern day version of “soma,” which was the pleasure drug from Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. It keeps you from doing productive things.
Yes, I’m even talking about “chilling” in front of the TV at the end of the day. Couldn’t you find something productive to do, even if it’s not specifically work?
And this can include spending too much time watching Youtube channels and vlogs. If they’re not specifically related to your work, are they killing your productivity?
The Internet: The Productivity Black Hole
With a business that is centered around the Internet, this might initially sound counter-intuitive. And building an audience begins with some level of content curation, which requires spending some time on the Internet.
But honestly, the Internet itself can turn into a giant time-suck; especially social media like facebook and Twitter.
How much is too much, or what is just right? That ultimately depends on you. But start thinking about spending your time productively when you get on social media.
Lack of a Structured Schedule: Productivity Killer
When you are freelance and self employed, it is easy to get off track if no one drives you forward to completion. You need to make sure you have a structure and schedule with clear objectives.
This can be a little different depending on the work. For example, when writing a piece or doing some development work that will be delivered to a client, you may have the luxury of a deadline or at the very least, a target date when the completed work will be needed. But if you are writing for your own site, you may not have that hard deadline staring you in the face.
Those are the times that I am prone to let my focus wander off track. Then I fall into the traps mentioned earlier – Internet and Television.
Some tips to stay focused are to keep an editorial calendar and to keep some kind of free-form writing journal. This can help structure the schedule and keep you from wandering.
If you don’t have a specific schedule to follow each day, you’ll likely be busy all the time while really not accomplishing much at all.
This is a great article from Darren Rowse on staying focused and avoiding distraction: How to Stay Focused and Avoid Distraction as a Blogger.
Also see this one to keep you busy writing: 3 Core Concepts for Unending Writing Inspiration.