This morning I was on Twitter, still in bed, trying to figure out if I should forgive Father Time for inventing Mondays or if I should just let it slide. It seems like he’s pulling that stunt every week, even though he knows I hate Mondays.
So there I was laying in bed, reading loads of tweets of look at me! I just got 1000 followers, or here’s a Monday monkey to make your day, and if you love me and you want to show it, send me a gif. You know, the usual stuff.
Among the chitter and chatter of all the Tweets hypnotically running down my screen, a question caught my eye. The problem was along the lines of, what is your biggest pet peeve when you are trying to write?
With over 100 answers I decided to check some out to try and ease the pain of the Monday morning blues.
Some of the posts were:
- When my phone rings.
- When somebody doesn’t believe I’m writing.
- When somebody is looking over my shoulder.
- When somebody asks me a question.
- When your dog needs to go pee.
Do you see the pattern here? It seems that almost everyone that answered had one common pet peeve in common, interruptions.
What pain interruptions can be, right? I mean, you sit down, try and write, and then the door flies open. It’s your dog with those eyes….”I need to pee, or I’m going to shit on your floor” eyes. Or you are typing away, the neighbour starts to blare their music, either causing you to begin to tap your fingers along with the catchy tunes or more likely, make you spazz right out.
Did you know that it takes an average of 23 minutes to return to the original task you were working on?
Ok, so, I admit, I’m not an author, but I do like to write, so I think I am qualified to give advice on this overly annoying matter. Well, second thought, maybe not as qualified as a guidance counsellor, life coach, or something like that, but I do have my share of getting sidetracked when I am trying to write, not to mention a tone of other tasks in my life.
A few of these tricks might not help you out at work, but while you are writing, I firmly believe that most of them will work. They work for me, but hey, maybe I’m just gullible enough to fall for my own tricks!
1. Schedule Your Time
Your time is important. Even if you don’t’ realize how important it is, you have to understand that there are only so many hours in the day. That means, if you want to write every day without being interrupted with other chores, you need to schedule the time.
Say that you know you have homework due on Wednesday, or your wife needs you to pick up the kids at 8:00 pm from karate classes, schedule time around it.
I read in a book, I’m not sure what one, I think it might have been Getting Things Done by Stephen Covey, where he says that you should schedule all your minutes. I tried it, and honestly, it is tough, but not impossible. So record yourself some time each day to write where you know you won’t bet interrupted.
2. Leave Your Phone Out of the Room.
“Oh the mighty cell phone, how you are my everything!” Nowadays you can’t drive down the road without seeing somebody walking on the sidewalk with their cell phone in view. They could be texting, talking, or maybe just holding it. The fact is, it is there, and it is calling their name all day, every day, and every breathing minute.
That goes the same for you. Face it, if you are like the majority of the population, your phone is usually pretty close by, whispering your name, asking you to check your email, check your facebook, or just to check the time every five minutes.
Simple solution, leave the phone in the other room. It might be hard at first, but eventually, you will know that everything will be ok and the phone will be just fine without you. Your phone will understand the neglection and will even forgive you eventually.
3. Close all Internet Windows
When you are writing, keep all your extra internet windows closed. Who needs their Twitter, Facebook, or email open. Checking it now, or in 30 minutes after scheduled writing time is up, in most cases doesn’t matter. That email is still going to be there, and that post where you just need to leave a thumbs up is always going to be there waiting for you to do the job, and click it!
My suggestion would be that you don’t’ have any of your programs open at all except your writing programs like OpenOffice or Word.
If you really want to see how much time you spend on sites not related to your tasks, install a time tracker like Webtime Tracker or similar. It will track how much time you spend on each site during your writing session, and it will give you a great idea how long you are actually writing.
4. Tell People That You Are Writing
If you live with others, just tell people that you are writing and not to bother you. Tell them your door is going to be closed and you will come out when you are done. If that doesn’t’ work, put a lock on your door and lock them out.
You probably won’t have to to go the extent of putting a lock on the door, but there is a possibility that you will make your housemates aware that you are taking some time for yourself and writing.
5. It’s Ok To Say No
It’s ok to say no. If the expectation is set that you will be writing at a particular time every day, your door is closed, and you get interrupted by somebody coming in and asking you to do something that isn’t’ important, just say no, and that you are writing.
Of course, you have to judge how important the thing you are saying no to is. For instance, would you mind grabbing the baby, she’s climbing inside of the stove is something that you probably would want to say yes too. On the other hand, can you come down and do the laundry would be a no. That would be something you would have scheduled or planned on as an interruption and work around.
Yes, noise. The sound is, and if it’s not your noise it will drive you mad!
For instance, you are sitting there on a Saturday evening, everything is quiet, and you get your groove on. Your neighbours come home, and they are in the party mood. The next thing you know you hear MC Hammer blasting through your walls!
What do you do? Well, you make your own noise. Put on some music before you start. Make it loud enough so you know it will drown out the neighbours. A better solution is to buy yourself a cheap set of noise-cancelling headphones where you can slip them on and down out the outside noise!
Think about it, it will just be you, your writing, and the soothing sounds of baby whales eating fish, or whatever other music you use to relax you.
Look after your pets before you start. Walk them and feed them. That will hopefully give them enough attention that they won’t be a nuisance. If they continue to be a bother, put them out of your room and shut the door.
Guess what? Cats and dogs fit their little paws around door nobs to let themselves back in, and their thumbs don’t work the same as ours.
8. Monkey Brain
If your brain is anything like mine, it is like a pack of wild monkies jumping around a MacDonald’s playroom. Bouncing all over the place with thoughts going every which way. Try to do some breathing exercises.
The next time you find yourself having thoughts try the following.
Take a deep breath. Breath in for the count of seven. Hold it for a second in your lungs. Let it out slowly for a count of six. That’s one. Repeat.
1..2…3…4….5…6….7…hold…out…6..5…4…3…2…1…That’s two. Do that all the way until you get to 10.
Hopefully, you will be relaxed at the end of it.
9. The Mess
Tame the beast! Clutter won’t help you to concentrate. The site of it will distract you, and you will more than likely find yourself fidgeting with something. Put things away where they belong, and the trash in the trash. Or you can do what I do, and open a drawer and dump everything in. Don’t worry, the mess will be there for you the next time you open the drawer waiting patiently for you to put it away.
10. Being Hungry
Feed the beast! Don’t’ let yourself work on writing if you are hungry. Well, unless it’s an emotional scene where you are writing about a bunch of starving orphans, and you really want to make an honest connection.
11. Plan for Interruptions
Figure out what could possibly interrupt you and plan to counter it ahead of time before it happens.
If you know that you are going to be heading out to a buddies house at 4:30 and it’s 3:00 right now, schedule a 1-hour writing session. Put on music that you can focus on while writing if you think the neighbours are going to be annoying and start blaring Sonny and Cher. Have a snack before you start to get into the groove of writing. Those are just a few examples, but you get the point. If you figure something is going to come up, plan to counter it.
Well, there you go, folks! 11 things that could help you cut down on interruptions while you are trying to work! Try them out, you never know what may help you on your journey to being an uninterrupted writer! Good luck, and enjoy your writing!