I don’t know about you, but staying focused on my writing is my biggest problem. Focus is why it took me so long to write Loved By Death. I enjoy writing, spewing out all the words and feelings, but I am so easily distracted. Hell, I’m lucky if I’m able to focus long enough to write a complete chapter in one day. Ironically, when I am ghostwriting a book, I can have it written in a couple of days depending on the length and the material.
So, we are going to take a little class together today on how to keep yourself focused. Trust me, I’m learning just as much as you are. If you have any tips on staying focused on your writing, please share them in the comment below.
Work With Your Brain’s Schedule
Who knew that your brain had a schedule? Actually, that makes sense. My brain tells me when it’s time for coffee.
Chances are you have probably noticed the times during the day when you seem to be more focused. Most people tend to be the most distracted between 12 and 4 p.m. with the peak being around 2. The brain works the best during the late morning, meaning after 10 a.m. This is when the brain is fully awake. Use the hours between 10 a.m. and noon for some intensive writing, and then take a break about midday to refresh.
Reward the Brain
Your brain learns the things you do. This means that the more often you engage in a distracting behavior, like playing a matching game on your phone every time it says you have lives, the more likely you are to do it. Your mind has been rewarded in some way by these distracting behaviors. This means you need to break these behaviors by stopping them when you notice them happening. The harder it is for you to be distracted, the less likely it will happen.
Take Real Breaks
While work typically involves a constant stream of input: constant phone calls, emails, 20 tabs open, it doesn’t do much for your focus. Find someplace you can go for 15 minutes where you cannot be distracted. A quiet room, a place without wi-fi, somewhere you can let your mind rest.
The fact is, nobody can actually multitask. The brain can only focus on one thing at a time. All you do when you multitask is switch between different tasks quickly. You’re not actually doing two, three, four things at once. The more often you switch, the more energy you use. Instead, make a list of what you need to do, and work down the list. One task at a time.
Do Something Engaging
Have you ever started working on something and then a few minutes later you are daydreaming?
When you don’t think what you need to do is worth your time, your brain will start to float around to other more stimulating things. You have to figure out if it’s you or the task. If the task isn’t currently engaging you then you should work on something else, and work on the less engaging task during the late mornings.
This sounds completely crazy, but it works. Research has found that chewing gum will increase the oxygen flow to the attention part of your brain. It will also help your long-term memory and give a bit of an insulin boost. If you don’t really like gum then you can grab yourself a snack. This doesn’t mean you should eat something every time you’re distracted, that could start a bad habit.
The important thing for staying focused is to create an environment for focus. Help your brain out by not making it have to work as hard.
Like I said earlier if you have any tips for staying focused comment below.
The biggest challenge is to stay focused. It’s to have the discipline when there are so many competing things. – Alexa Hirschfield