Today I asked my followers on Twitter what their biggest challenge as a blogger was. There were hundreds of responses but the word that stood out to me time and time again was “time.”
Finding time to blog is something most of us struggle with at one point or another, if not every day. So today I thought I’d share a strategy that I used this week to keep me on track (one that actually worked!).
Get off Farmville!
Okay, so Farmville isn’t a problem for everyone, but I suspect that we all have an equivalent distraction (or two). I have a few: Twitter can be my Farmville, so can Instagram, so can any kind of Tower Defence game on my iPhone. A stroll down to the lounge room to wrestle with my kids could be another… the list could go on.
None of these things are evil. Some, in fact, could be useful and a part of your business (which blurs the line and makes it hard, because you can start out being productive and end up wasting your time). However they all can take us away from what we really know we should be focusing upon.
Ultimately, it comes down to knowing what distracts you and eliminating it (or at least putting boundaries around it).
That’s easier said than done, of course, so today I want to let you in on something I did recently in a week where I needed to be super-extra productive and eliminate distraction.
Here’s What I’ve Been Doing to
Eliminate Minimize Distractions
I wrote this on the whiteboard that sits in front of me:
Okay, it’s not the sexiest productivity tip I could give. It’s not an app to keep you on track, and it certainly hasn’t emerged from any kind of research I’ve done into productivity.
It’s just two questions that I decided to ask myself constantly this week in an attempt to keep me on track and away from those time-sucking distractions that pull me away from those things that I know I need to achieve.
Why did I do it?
My reason for asking these questions was simply that I realized that I needed to challenge myself to question my decisions about the way I spend my time. You see, I find that if I don’t do it, my day simply evolves form one thing to another—and many of the activities aren’t that productive.
For example, let’s look at Twitter. Twitter can be a great way to spend your time if you’re a blogger. It can help you research articles to write about, it can be great for networking with others in your niche, and it can be great for driving traffic for your blog (amidst other great stuff). But it can also be a time-suck—it can be responsible for your day completely disappearing.
Asking “Why are you doing that?” as I look up from TweetDeck forces me to think about what I’m doing on Twitter at that moment and whether it’ll take me closer to or further away from my objectives as a blogger.
Answering it leaves me with a few options:
- I realize that I’m wasting my time and I do something else that’s more productive.
- I realize that I’m not using it effectively and refocus upon using Twitter to move towards my goals.
- I realize that yes, I’m using Twitter well and keep going.
The problem with this approach is that I tend to lie to myself at times. I suspect we all do…
“Of course I’m using Twitter productively right now. I’m … errr … building relationships with people … and … um … networking … and getting better at communicating in short sentences … and honing my … social media skills…”
We’re pretty good at justifying anything we want to do, aren’t we? Or am I the only one?
So I ask myself the same question, but a little differently: “Do you need to?”
I know I’m sounding like my mother, but perhaps she was onto something. Again, the question makes me consider how I’m using my time, and I either change what I’m doing, or keep going accordingly.
Lastly is the “Really?” question, which again is a little parental. But it’s often at this point, having challenged myself three times, that I realize I’m fooling nobody—I really need to snap out of it and get back on track.
I’m not saying that I’ve not been distracted this week at all (you’d only need to check my Instagram and Twitter streams to know that’s not the case) but what I have found is that by simply asking myself through the day about how I’m spending my time, I’ve been more focused and more intentional about how I do spend my time.
That’s what’s working for me. How about you? How do you keep on track and stay focused upon what you need to get done?