Choose the one thing that is most important the day before.
I work from a to-do list. I create one every night (for the most part) of what I would like to get done the next day. I begin with writing the most important things that need to be done and could be done by tomorrow. Then I do my best to work when I should be working (damn you social media!).
Look, you know what you need to do, but get it out of your head and onto paper. Don’t spend hours on social media and YouTube. No successful person does that. If you take an honest assement of your time and find yourself spending more time playing games and watching YouTube you’re setting yourself up for failure. If you already work from a list of daily goals then GOOD JOB.
If you really and truly don’t know what your most important goal is then lock yourself in a room. Enjoy some silence and think things through. Don’t come out until you have a worthy use of your time planned ahead. This is essential because it will be impossible to tackle creative work that is actually worth your time when you have no plan (busy work seems to sneak in in this scenario).
WHAT is Important to me
I spend too much time writing for my websites and designing them (actually). I want to write books for Amazon. I want to launch a course on Udemy among other things on how to teach English overseas or the various things I do online. I want to make YouTube video tutorials and build out a popular channel. I also want to launch a podcast (first episode this week).
It’s a lot of things I feel compelled to do and yet the thing I do most is web design. It’s a frustrating process of breaking old habits in order to make new ones so I can achieve my business and life goals. BUT I’m at least distracted with work, instead of being distracted with utter nonsense.
So here are 8 ways I’ve learned so far in how to find time to focus on my creative work by distracting myself with work.
1) Avoid negative self talk:
You become what you think about. The more you like yourself, the more you do. The more you do, the more you like yourself. Building yourself concept up enables you to stay positive and stay motivated which translates into being more effective with you work. I’m not suggesting you do that classic SNL skit where you look in a mirror and say “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and gosh darn it, people like me”. It’s more of just being mindful of your thoughts. Curating a positive personality and disposition by reading and watching uplifting and inspiring content and telling yourself that you’re responsible, you work and get things done.
2) Take yourself away from distractions:
I do my best writing at cafes. I have no idea why. Maybe myself and a trained monkey have a bit more in common than I realize. Regardless, find a process and an environment that works well for you. Maybe it’s waking up early before work, or instead of going home after work, going somewhere else where you can get into the mindset of “work time” and not be sucked into busy work and distractions.
3) Find a way to set up a work/play environment:
At your home you must be able to effectively get to work and finish things. It’s obvious that where you rest and relax is not a good place to work. So break things up. I find working and listening to music very quietly is a good way to train my brain that when the music is on, it’s work time. If you have the money, you could just have 2 devices. Perhaps your phone or tablet is your fun play toy and keep your desktop or laptop as your work station.
4) Don’t multi-task:
Dividing your attention is stupid. When you’re creating something amazing, there is no way that randomly talking to your friends on Facebook is going to make what you’re creating any better.
5) Continue your work, don’t stop:
Ideas come to you as you work, so work. Don’t take a mini break and time travel an hour into the future with a news website or YouTube. Creativity seems to come in waves and perhaps it does, but from my experience you need to just sit down and do the work and you will notice what you’ve created transform from mediocre into awesom.
6) Set deadlines:
You know how psychologists say that when you talk about what you’re going to do it tricks your brain into thinking you’ve already done it and are thus less likely to do what you said you were going to do compared with if you had not said anything? Deadlines work the same way. When you put yourself out there. On Facebook, on your website and say I AM LAUNCHING THIS IN 1 WEEK even if you’re not ready or don’t feel like you’ll be able to be ready is a great way to get things done. You can also work with an accountability partner to help with this too.
7)Take time off, exercise, disconnect from tech a bit:
I set a goal to put in 25 hours of productive work a week. That requires one to work when it’s time to work and for one to also not work when it’s time to focus on other aspects of our lives. Limit your work day. Give yourself a daily goal of things you need to do and FINISH your daily goals. Some days I work hours and hours and hours. Other days, I have everything I want complete done by late morning. This happens because I plan my time ahead to work as well as give myself time off.
8) Do what you think successful people do:
Think of the ideal behaviors of your ideal self. A highly successful version of yourself. What would you be doing on a daily basis? When I think of successful people, people who are top performers I think they’re the types that get up early in the morning, exercise, work and complete important tasks, are good at what they do, have healthy relationships with their friends and loved ones, are surrounded by other top performing people. Think of your own successful self, what one small thing can you change about your behavior to bring your ideal self into reality?
What are you working on now? How have do you deal with the threat of distraction?