Whether you’re writing from home, in a co-working space, or in an office, distractions abound. There are pets, family members, well-intentioned co-workers, car horns, our own internal thoughts—the list of distractions that most of us deal with on a daily basis could fill an entire blank page.
Unfortunately, studies show that even the smallest distraction can have an impact on the quality of work that writers produce. In other words, finding a space for distraction free writing is paramount to getting in the flow and creating quality content that you can be proud of. But what if you’re finding that no matter how hard you try, you’re unable to focus when writing? We’ve written this article on focus to show you some strategies on how to write without distractions.
What Are Ways to Prevent Distractions?
Unfortunately, you probably can’t prevent every distraction out there. The fact is, noisy construction happens, phones ring, and our own minds wander sometimes. So rather than asking about distraction prevention, let’s ask a slightly different question: how do you deal with distractions in writing? That’s one we can answer.
- Identify Your Distractions: You can’t eliminate it if you don’t know it’s there. Take a few minutes to write down your common distractions. If you notice yourself getting distracted as you write, go ahead and make a note of the interruption. Then, start tackling them – later.
- Do Your Research First: When it comes to writing, one of the most common distractions is pausing your process to research something—forcing you to open a new tab or switch between a dozen or more open tabs. One of the easiest ways to deal with this type of distraction is to do your research first. One of the reasons we created Slice was to enable writers to collect their research in one place–which helps you save time and avoid rabbit holes!
- Pause Your Notifications: Most of us receive myriad notifications every day, including social media, phone calls, text messages, emails, and more. The fact is, they pull us out of our writing flow. To get some uninterrupted time, pause notifications by setting yourself as “away,” or set your phone and computer to “do not disturb.”
How Do You Focus on Writing?
You’ve identified your distractions and minimized them as much as possible. Now how do you actually focus on writing? According to psychology, the best way to do that is to get in the flow state. If you’ve ever had an intense hour or two where you were “in the zone,” you’ve experienced flow. Essentially, a flow state is a period of time where you’re intensely focused on a specific project or activity. Here are four tips to help you achieve flow—and distraction-free writing.
- Define Your Workspace: If you’re working at home or in the office, it can be helpful to create a space conducive to your own creativity. Clear it of clutter, find a comfortable chair, minimize noise, and limit interruptions. Consider using noise-canceling headphones or setting up a system so co-workers know you’re in the zone.
- Understand When You’re Productive: Do you work best in the morning? Afternoon? Evening? Pay attention to your energy levels throughout the day. Some feel a mid-morning slump while others find that they’re a bit groggy in the afternoon. If you’re not able to focus on writing, it might be a timing issue. To the extent possible, identify when you’re most energized and save those times for your writing.
- Don’t Multitask: When you’re writing for work, it can be tempting to multitask. There are emails that need to be checked, messages from co-workers, and other pressing projects. Tempting as it might be, try to avoid these things for a set period of time. Consider setting a 30- or 45-minute timer and sticking to just writing during that time. Keep in mind that this might require a quick discussion with colleagues to ensure they know you’re not ignoring them.
- Listen to Your Body: It can be difficult to focus if you’re hungry, thirsty, or running on fumes. Get enough sleep when it’s possible, and make sure to take breaks for lunch, snacks, and plenty of water. Caffeine can be helpful, too – just don’t overdo it! Too much caffeine can make you jittery and unable to concentrate.
Slice: The Distraction-Free Online Writing App
Writing without distractions takes time, effort, and practice. We created Slice to help business writers slice out some of the day-to-day distractions so they can concentrate on writing. Our platform is a focus-first writing tool that lets you research, create, manage, and edit in one workspace. Sign up for a 30-day free trial and find out why our customers report a 10x productivity gain.