As writers, it is our job to internalize and describe the world around us. This takes incredible focusing power.
When you work from home like I do, with all of the demands of two children and a house to run, the ability to stay focused while writing becomes even more difficult.
Over my seven-year career as a writer from home, I have figured out a few ways to turn off distractions while I am writing to become a stronger, better writer.
Today, I am passing along my tips for how to stay focused while writing to you!
10 Easy Ways to Stay Focused While Writing
This sounds impossible, but closing your mind to outside sounds is a skill you can develop.
I am so good at blocking out distractions and noise now that I often don’t hear my own name when someone is speaking to me. This is a skill I have developed over many years (first while trying to study in a house with 8 other people).
How do I stop listening? I place all my focus inside my head. When I write, the words first blossom inside my head, and then I transfer them to the computer. I don’t focus on anything else while I write. It’s just me, my fingers, and the page.
Go to a Quiet Place
When my children get too loud, even for my brain, I find it helps to go to a quiet place. Usually, I choose my bedroom; but sometimes, I have retreated to a closet or even the locked bathroom. If you can’t focus, going to a quiet place can really help.
If you have little kids around, working during naps is also much more productive.
Set Up a Work Spot
Everyone has habits that signal “now it is time to do this.” For someone who works outside of the home, the signal for work include putting on pants and driving to work in your designated area.
I find creating a routine and a designated work zone really makes a difference in productivity. When you go to your work zone, you subliminally tell your brain to start working. This, in turn, helps you stay focused while writing.
On the other hand, sometimes a change of location can do wonders for your productivity (for me, its usually because there are no children around).
If you, like me, have a lot of other responsibilities in addition to writing, moving to a location where writing is the only option can really boost creativity and focus.
Coffee is a wonderful drink. In addition to allowing you to focus and get things done, it is also a healthy beverage. So, drink away.
Occupy the Littles
If you have little kids underfoot like I do, they are the biggest distraction. My two-year-old visits me for a request about every two minutes while I am working. Keeping her occupied increases productivity by leaps and bounds. These are some activities that keep my kids interested:
- Play dough
- Art supplies
- New toys (I allow them to select one toy to play with per day, which keeps toys feeling new)
- Going outside
- Playing in the sink
When the kids are distracted, I can be more focused on writing.
Use a Schedule
When I have a big to-do list (beginning of the month is killer for me), I tend to get overwhelmed and flit from task to task. This approach is fruitless. Studies show that block tasking is much more efficient (specifically, 90-minute sessions of work followed by 20 minutes of rest). I use a schedule with blocks of time dedicated to each task. Usually, mornings are spent in blog work, afternoons are for writing, and evenings are for anything I failed to finish earlier.
The above study indicates that periods of intense work followed by short breaks of 20 minutes or so follow the body’s natural ultradian rhythm. Therefore, breaks are just as important as blocks of work. I probably wouldn’t take nearly as many breaks if I didn’t have interruptions from children, but I do find I can stay focused while writing and think clearer after I return to work after a short break.
Find Your Focus Music
Certain music inspires creativity. I either like to listen to classical, peaceful music, or songs that are light metal. One of my favorite artists to listen to while writing is Biffy Clyro. His music is quite intense, but for some reason, it helps me stay focused while writing.
Hide Your Phone
For some reason, I can’t ignore messages on my phone. I have to answer the dings and rings that chime every few minutes. Each time this happens, I lose focus and usually end up hopping to another task. The best way I have found to deal with this is to place my phone in a different room so I don’t hear it at all.
If you need even more tips on how to stay focused while writing, check out my companion piece on Coffee Addicted Writer!
How do you stay focused on writing?