This is that OTHER thing WHY you might have trouble getting started.
But this other thing of course, is not as simple as it seems. If it were, we wouldn’t have any trouble getting started.
We all know how it feels like to be distracted – that knock on the door, baby crying next door, kids screaming, your neighbour incessant drilling in their home that makes you wonder if they are trying to collapse the building, that 101 things demanding your attention NOW.
Even if you managed to settle down in front of your computer, with your preferred word processor, blank, on the screen staring at you.
Suddenly, a Facebook notification blinks on the top right hand corner. Oh someone just liked your post!
And the next thing you know, you are browsing on Facebook.
I am not sure about you, maybe you’re a pen and paper person. But I pretty much enjoy writing on my Macbook Pro.
But with Facebook and Whatsapp hiding behind Word on Google Chrome… I can’t help but feel that seduction. You know you want me…
Well the extreme solution is to click “x” and exit the browser completely… but what if I DO need to use it to do some research?
That’s when I realized that I have at least 10 browser tabs on 1 browser window.
AT LEAST. It can go up to 20?
With so many distractions getting in my way of plonking my butt down somewhere and getting the words out onto the word processor, I simply couldn’t take it anymore.
So what’s really going on behind this façade called distractions?
I tried 7 steps that helped me overcome the distractions, get productive and produce blog posts – sometimes 2-4 hours per post, and on good times, 2-4 hours for 2 posts!
That’s when writer’s block and getting my creative juices running are not an issue of course.
So, what’s the 7 steps?
7 Steps to Overcome Distractions Stopping You From Getting Started
1. Taming that monkey mind
Back to that point on 10 browser tabs… It shows that my mind is so used to being busy. It craves being busy. To the point that closing browsers don't work.
So it gets clearer now…
Distractions are merely the superficial symptoms, the result. The culprit?
Our monkey mind.
So how can we tame our monkey minds?
Watch this clip that’s less than 2 mins by a Tibetan Master sharing with us how we can train our monkey mind.
Also if you haven’t realized, if you’re in the midst of what I call a war zone, where you’re almost always surrounded by clutter, it actually reflects your state of mind – it’s a mess.
So work from outside-in, start tidying up your environment. Be it your living environment, your work environment, or even on a smaller scale, your work desk, and even your computer. Clear your surroundings to gain more clarity in your mind.
Don’t just do it one time though! Make it a habit!
2. Keep that tummy happy
Ok now the mind’s more at peace and at ease… But your tummy’s kinda unhappy. Don’t let it hold you hostage!
2 scenarios to avoid:
a. You’re hungry, whether slight or worse, starving.
b. You’re so stuffed you feel like puking.
In scenario A, feed yourself. Sounds like a redundant thing to say, but may I add, feed yourself the right food.
Go easy on the carbs, fried and greasy food that will cause you to go into hibernation mode or food coma after your meal.
For me, I TRY to eat light. It kinda helps that I am vegetarian, so salads, soups and porridge work great before I get down to writing.
In scenario B, you kinda asked for it. But let’s get down to a solution since you’ve already gotten yourself into such a gastronomic mess…
Time to get those digestive juices working.
The times that I overindulge and landed myself in a sticky sleepy situation – thanks to desserts and heavy meals – I normally get myself a cup of peppermint tea.
“Peppermint naturally relieves gas, indigestion and nausea. Avoid it if you suffer from acid reflux, though. Peppermint relaxes the opening between your stomach and oesophagus, enabling stomach acid to flow back upward. Otherwise, feel free to enjoy a cup of peppermint tea or stick of peppermint gum.” - LiveStrong
But when I am just too full to even down a cup of peppermint tea, I go for licorice. It’s an acquired taste, and it took me quite a while before I warmed up to it.
Or you could go for charcoal pills.
Here’s what Huffington Post has to say about charcoal tablets:
If your meal seems to have ignited a mini fireworks show in your lower abdomen, consider taking activated-charocal tablets. The charcoal powder absorbs excess gas in the intestinal tract, says Patrica Raymond, MD, a gastroenterologist and an assistant professor of clinical internal medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School. Activated charcoal is also one of the few things that can suck up the hydrogen in gas, neutralizing embarrassing odors. However, you shouldn’t pop them everyday, and it’s important to note that these tablets can have negative interactions with heart medication, so consult your doctor before trying them.
3. Empty the bladder
You’ve taken care of your tummy, now take care of that bladder.
It gets really annoying when we’re all settled down, the creative juices start flowing… AND now the bladder wants to get the pee going too.
So to prevent yourself from that unwanted pee break before you even get down to work, head to the washroom pronto.
4. Set the right mood
For me, it’s music. (And I go for electro, pop, dance.) If I’m not in the mood for music, then I’d prefer a relatively quiet working environment.
It could be in a coffeeshop, one where you see more people working and reading than chatting at the top of their voices.
Another form of distraction for me would be my friends. Basically, I work best when I am alone.
So I don’t have a reason, that distraction, to start yakking.
5. The right temperature
Too hot, I perspire and too cold, I freeze.
Well, you need to be comfortable if you’re going to work for real.
I usually opt for Starbucks where it’s not Arctic and it’s a good hideaway from the sweltering outdoor heat in Singapore.
I also make sure that I have my sweater with me just in case it gets a little colder when it starts raining outside, or when the temperature decreases in the café because there’s fewer people at a certain time of the day.
Hot tea, preferably mint, also helps me keep warm!
6. Find the right spot
Writers have quirks. Let’s face it. Before we can go into our own world, we usually have to find the right spot that allows us to do so, comfortably.
We don’t want to find our concentration rudely disrupted because we are sitting in the “limelight” from the glaring sunrays.
Simple things like… are you sitting under the air-conditioning vent? Right next to the entrance/exit where you foresee people would walk in and out constantly? Or do you need a power point to keep your laptop charged?
So find the right spot where you can get comfortable and you foresee you can continue being comfortable in without any disturbances for the next few hours.
7. Going into the zone
How difficult can this get now?
One last thing, set up the table nicely, have your laptop charged, or your stationery in front of you, your earphones ready, and your drink with some serviettes laid out, you’re ready to roll.
Give yourself a nice stretch and give yourself a mental pep talk before you start.
It’s calling setting your intention. Decide what do you really want to or are going to accomplish in the next few hours.
That would help you stay focused and go into the zone.
And write away!
Now you know what this OTHER thing is that could be the reason why you face challenges writing, and you also have 7 steps to keep your distractions, your monkey mind, in check.
Oh, by the way, if you find yourself having difficulties at step 7, going into the zone, then you might want to read this post: This (DAMN) Thing About Writing. Okay, Where Should I Start?