Procrastination is the evil demon of writing, work and getting jobs done. It’s there no matter what you do and sometimes it’s suffocating. I often find myself doing one thing, opening another window on my browser to do something that’s related to what I’m already doing, then I open another window, then another one and another one before I realise what’s happened, I’ve opened 15 windows, started three different projects and watched an episode of The Big Bang Theory on the TV, all whilst my original task is still waiting to be done. *sigh*
It’s hard to keep your mind focused. Especially when your thoughts move as quickly as Tokyo’s light rail and you’re already struggling to keep up. So let’s slow things down a bit, get off at the next station and hop on the Orient Express instead, it’s a much better speed.
So let’s focus. Here are my tips for keeping yourself on track:
- Identify the task at hand. If it’s a particularly daunting one then break it down into more manageable steps. Something like write a novel is quite a big project, so maybe work on the first draft, work on editing the first draft, find some beta readers. Even these tasks can be managed further: write chapter1, write chapter 2… or edit chapter 1, edit chapter 2… You can see where I’m going with this.
- Make sure the TV is switched off. I know sometimes I like to work with background music and that’s fine if it’s the radio, but if I put a music channel on, I’ll just get distracted watching that instead. If it makes yourself feel better, just get rid of the TV altogether and then the temptation isn’t there. I know I don’t like being in the flat on my own so I’ll often switch the TV on just for some company – bad idea!
- Don’t use the internet (unless you have to – but no social media!). This is perhaps the hardest thing to resist. Avoiding the internet is nigh on impossible, let’s face it. We even do our research on the internet! But that doesn’t mean you should be using it all the time. It’s all too easy to take a two minute break every five and do a bit of browsing. Try and keep it controlled. If you really can resist then try giving yourself designated time in which you can surf the web. Say every 30 minutes, you can have a five minute break.
- Switch your mobile to silent and maybe even put it in another room. If I really don’t want to do something, I’ll find myself texting or checking my phone every two minutes, but if my phone isn’t there, there’s nothing to check!
- Let’s get a motivational playlist together. A collection of tunes you know will keep you focused. Try to stay away from the great sing-a-longs. I always find listening to my favourite band is great because I’ve heard the songs so many times, I’m not wanting to pay particular attention this time round which makes it perfect for background noise.
- Set yourself a task for the day. If you’ve sat yourself down to crack on with some work, try and set yourself a goal. I sat down in the pub a few weeks ago to get on with some writing. As I got settled I didn’t think I’d be able to concentrate much or do more than 500 words. I set myself the target of 1000 words and was overjoyed when I broke through the barrier and kept going. There were a few moments I felt like slacking and giving up but the thought of what I wanted to achieve stopped me from browsing Facebook and actually made me focus!
So there you have it. Some handy tips to help structure your working environment in order to stay focused. Procrastination is a dangerous thing and before you know it, you’ve got nothing done. What little things do you do to stay focused? Do you have a strict regime, are you more relaxed or do you find yourself always struggling? Share your thoughts in the comments below!