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Blog Wise Tip 5: Manage Distractions

Given their productivity levels, you might think that A-list bloggers don’t get distracted. The truth, as the interviews in Blog Wise show, is that they’ve learned to deal with distractions so that they don’t rule the day.

Distraction #1: Social media

Is social media sucking up your time? Give yourself permission to spend a few minutes there, says Amy Porterfield.

“I give myself permission, I get in there, I do it, there’s no guilt associated with it, there’s no hurry to it, and then I go on with my work,” she says, adding that for her, less stress means greater productivity.

Distraction #2: Family

For work-from-home bloggers, family can be very distracting. For this reason, Darren has agreed with his wife on certain times when he’s unavailable—“work time”—so that work and home responsibilities can stay fairly separate.

He adds that his family is understanding. “Having a business is a very high priority for me as well, and so we, as a family … acknowledge that I need to work long hours, and put aside time for that and plan for that as well.”

Distraction #3: Work

Darren and Jeff both handle work-related distractions by asking themselves whether the distraction is taking them closer to their goals.

Jeff, too, reminds himself that his purpose is to create, not react, which can help him avoid dedicating time to less productive tasks.

“If I have a choice, and often I do, between reacting or responding to what somebody else has said, and creating something new, I want to create something new,” he says. “So in terms of getting things done, that’s … a question that really helps me guide a lot of decisions.”

Top tip for killing distractions

Some of the bloggers we interviewed commented that they way they handled distractions was to physically remove themselves from the distraction itself.

Matt Kepnes, whose distractions are also his blog topic, shuts himself away from the world when he needs to catch up on work and really focus. For this reason, he finds air travel time to be really productive.

Gretchen Rubin also changes her physical location depending on the work she’s doing. This helps her feel that the time she has for any given task is finite, and helps her to stay focused as she tackles each of the tasks she needs to do.

Among Gretchen’s catalog of working locations, besides her office, are cafes and the library. The walk to get to those places is a bonus.

“I get outside I get a little breath of fresh air, a little hit of sunlight in my face (which is good for alertness and energy, I know from my research), and then I work there,” she says. “And then when I feel I can’t take that anymore … I move someplace else.”

How do you handle blogging distractions? Share your tips in the comments.

Tomorrow: Building a productive blogging team.

About Georgina Laidlaw

Georgina Laidlaw is a freelance content developer, and Content manager for problogger.net. You can find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. I struggle with this daily. On one hand, I feel frustrated and burned out if I don’t let myself indulge in a distraction every now and then, but it’s hard to limit myself. Finding a balance between keeping yourself happy and motivated and wasting too much time is a difficult point to reach!

  2. Okto says:

    Great Tips,

    Sometimes it hard to avoid social media since it so addictive, even the Twitter owner says twitter is unhealthy.

    You have good point in point 2 there. If you are married and plan to make a living from a blog, then having a deal with your spouse is a great start to support your blogging plan. There should be understanding on the “long hours” work even you are in home.

    Thanks for the tips

  3. My biggest ‘distractions’ are my children. Unfortunately I can’t change my work location or ‘get rid’ of them :) What I do instead is work after they’re in bed. Sometimes though, I get a babysitter for them then head to the nearest Starbucks. I notice a super increase in productivity those times.

  4. I’ve had to learn to shut myself away, because although my family supports what I’m trying to do, if I seem available, then I am available. It’s not enough to go into another room, I’ve had to create a home office with a door that has been designated as my space, otherwise, I have to deal with interruptions.

    Another thing I’ve done is schedule time for various tasks. I’m a natural multi-tasker, but even that talent can backfire if I’m not careful. So I assign times to catch up on blog reading, social media, affiliate marketing, learning new things, and managing my blogs. I don’t hold myself to that schedule, but I’ve found that it’s helpful to be able to fall back on a To Do list/schedule when I’m feeling overwhelmed.

    And I look at my day job as a wonderful distraction and break from growing my blogs and I force myself to make time for working out and for fun. I’ve fallen into my trap of “blogging IS fun” only to find myself getting burned out and discouraged so now I make time for myself and my family too.

  5. Ben Norman says:

    My main technique is to start what I’ve christened “operation 6 0 clock”. By getting up at 6 in the morning I gain an uninterrupted hour where I’m really productive. It’s amazing how much you can get done when you’re focussed and there are no distractions.

  6. i find distractions a real problem when trying to read something complicated.
    I find it best to have little intervals of rest say every 30 mins.
    I also do some work late at night when everyones in bed or in front of the TV.

  7. Amit Sharma says:

    Social Media is one big distraction for me, Facebook is one of them, but now I restrict my social activities to my smartphone only..that way I’m able to manage my time and social media interactions quite well.

  8. Daniel says:

    I think some of the main distractions, apart from the obvious ones, are when we get sidetracked to often with trying to learn or do too many things at once with our sites, rather than getting one thing actually completed.

  9. Morgan says:

    Hi Georgina,

    Some super awesome tips, here! I especially love the one about giving yourself permission and changing scenery. For me, changing scenery is very important, as I can get a little too comfortable in one spot and tend to slack off.

    And since social media is my job, in order for me to focus on my business, I really have to be strict with myself when it comes to spending time on social networks as I’ll literally spend the entire day just browsing Twitter & FB.

    Distractions can be killers, so being strict with yourself is really important.

    Thanks for the great tips!

  10. Ryan Cripps says:

    These tips are really helping me become a better blogger. All these distractions get in the way of my writing, not just blogging but for writing books and guides too. Its great to have these tips.

  11. I’m rather like Ben in that I get up early in the morning, however I get up at 5-5:30am every day. I have to leave for work between 7 and 7:30 so I get up early in the morning to comment on other people\s blogs, check out social media and make sure my posts are properly scheduled for the day.

    One technique that I’ve found really instrumental in avoiding distractions is the Pomodoro technique. You work for 25 minutes on a project, and then you get a 5 minute break, you repeat, and after the 3rd Pomodoro (25 minutes) you get a longer break. If you have to pause a Pomodoro for whatever reason then you note where you are and how long there is left and resume work ASAP. I really like this technique as I find that quite often 5 minutes is enough to quickly check Facebook or Twitter – which makes me happy because I get breaks, but I don’t spend too long on it. I use a timer app on my phone that means I just touch “25 mins” or “5 mins” or “15 mins” depending on what I’m doing, it’s surprising how productive working against the clock can be – I’ve managed to write entire posts in 25 minute sections which when read over later for editing barely needed any.

  12. Dzulhelmee says:

    Personally social media are not on my distraction list. Most of my distraction comes from work and family. I sometimes blog at work and sometimes at home.
    So at work the way to do it is during the lunch break. I would usually be alone in the office where it is totally quiet and that 1 hour time should be enough for me to think of new idea for my next article.
    At home my time would be after my 2 year old toddler has fall asleep. Also the time I have permit myself to blog or to think of new ideas at home is just 1 hour.

  13. Bill says:

    From my own experince, i think the best to kill distarction is to stay cool under pressure especially when your expectaion are getting out of hand. If you are MAN/WOMAN enough you can juggle the the top 5 tips at once. You should develop a culture that will transform your distraction into positive outcome.

  14. Rob G says:

    I have developed a pattern for setting time a side for blogging and my wife is very understanding because she knows it’s something I love doing. Although social media seems very time consuming

  15. Frequent breaks help me a great deal Georgina.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Ryan

  16. Yaisa Hagood says:

    I get distracted when things are not working properly. Like the other day my printer was not working, I didn’t need to use it but the fact that it was not working distracted me and I couldn’t concentrate. I spent the entire day working on it and didn’t get anything done. So I have to learn to focus. Get my daily task done first and then concentrate on other things.

  17. One of my biggest distractions is TV, I”m addicted to TV shows, but I took control last year when it starting interfering with my goals. I have a limit to how many shows I can watch per day, and also have specific times to do it, usually for lunch I’ll take a break and ride my exercise bike, so I’ll watch a show during that, which is great because it combines two things.

    Also I don’t watch the TV I allow myself unless my specific tasks are completed for the day.

  18. The biggest distraction for is email. I have taken Tim Ferriss’ advice and started checking my email only twice daily and at the certain specific times. I also think breaks are a must when working on anything.

  19. Anne-Sophie says:

    Oh the distractions. I am blessed in that I don’t have children yet, so my family (apart from my lovely husband) is not a distraction. But social media always distracts me. I am using the freedom app to help me stay focused on the task I need to work on. Otherwise, my brain would be way too scattered. It doesn’t always work though.

  20. Sarah Kolb says:

    Gretchen has a really great tip — I’m definitely going to try relocating to the coffee shop a few blocks away when I’m stuck in a rut here in my home office and feeling unproductive.

    Usually, if I’m feeling guilty about any specific time suck, I’ll set a timer on my phone and allow myself 10 minutes to get done whatever I want to get done. Then, when the timer goes off, no arguments with myself — it’s time to get back to work.

  21. Mike says:

    I find for myself the biggest distractions are social media and my IMs. Usually there isn’t too many other distractions than those but I find that those are the biggest. However, sometimes I notice that I am more willing to work when I’ve been distracted a little.

  22. Chris says:

    You must be able to avoid distractions if you plan on working from home – it is essential to your success. Of course, this holds true with pretty much any job regardless of where you set up shop.

  23. Time management should be your main priority when you intend on working at home, and as I am encountering exactly this new to me, way of daily occupation, I am coming more and more to realization that this is my number one problem. I struggle all the time finding the balance and am just going to harder on myself and try to set some limits and to follow them! Thanks for the tips, Georgina!