Dealing with Technological Distractions
Hi guys, WordPress screwed me over and posted this on Friday instead of when it was supposed to go live, so if you’ve already read this, I’m sorry, but you can read a guest post by me today on Brianna Soloski’s blog Girl Seeks Place instead.
Today our discussion is about distractions that are at once harder to ignore and easier to eliminate than those caused by family: the distractions of modern day technology, specifically phones and the internet.
Phones and the internet—and phones that connect to the internet—are wonderful inventions that can easily turn into horrible soul sucking devices. How many times have you gone to email someone and ended up watching twenty cute cat videos? How many times have you picked up the phone and ended up talking through all your writing time? You know what I’m talking about. We’ve all done it. We’ll probably all do it at least once more in our lifetime.
But it has to stop. In order to finish that novel, non-fiction book or even one article, you need to focus. You need to ignore all those cute cat videos. You need to stay off the phone. You need to detox from Facebook until your project is finished, or at least your work for the day is finished.
How do you eliminate technological distractions? Check out these simple steps to a more focused work period:
1. Close your browser. I know you don’t want to. But if email is a constant lure for you, knowing that the window is already open will kill your concentration. You’ll be checking your email every three sentences, slowing you down quite a bit. Out of sight, out of mind. Close your browser window and hide the symbol somewhere you can’t see it without looking intentionally. It’s pretty common to have your browser in the tool bar of your operating system, but it’s also simple to remove the icon. Take the initiative and make it easy for you to ignore the internet.
2. Disable the internet. If the first strategy doesn’t work for you, it might be time to disable the internet altogether. This might mean disconnecting your computer from the internet. It might mean disconnecting your router and modem. Or it might mean downloading software that will block the internet during your writing time and turn it back on when you’re done without you ever having to move away from your computer. However you do it, try disabling your internet and see how much faster everything gets done.
3. Turn off your phone. Or, at the very least, turn it to silent. Odds are you won’t get any really important calls during the hour or two you’ve set aside for writing anyway. How many phone calls do you really need to pick up? Can you call back later? Do you really need to listen to your friend whine about her break up right now? As distraught as she is, she probably won’t be too upset if you call her back in an hour. You don’t really need to know every time something happens on Facebook.
Try turning off your phone during your writing time—or at least part of it—and see what a difference that makes. Try deleting most of your games and turning off those Facebook notifications permanently too. Limiting your access to time wasters makes it easy to get more done.
4. Switch technology. If you’re still struggling with technological interruptions, you might be better off switching to a word processor only device such as an Alpha Smart or even to pen and paper. Simply not having access to the internet will make it a lot easier. Turning off Facebook and email notifications on your phone or even having an older phone that isn’t compatible with Facebook or your email client can be of great assistance too.
Remember, technology is a tool. When used properly, it makes your life more comfortable and more productive. When used improperly, it can totally derail you from your goals and eat up your life so that you hardly exist offline. If you can’t use the technology properly, maybe it’s time to stop using the technology at all.
Everyone gets distracted by technology until they learn how to stop it. Different people are effected by technology differently. I’ve always been good at staying on task even with my browser window open and visible in the toolbar, but some people don’t write at all unless they completely remove themselves from the internet. It’s important to know yourself and to know which distractions you’re most vulnerable to and to learn how to eliminate or at least minimize them.
How do you keep technological distractions to a minimum?