How to Boost Writing Productivity in a World of Distractions

All writers have one dream: they want their works to be noticed or become bestsellers. They also have another dream: to be able to write and finish more works. In an ideal world, it's possible but there are kids who need care, a spouse who needs attention, a dog that needs to be walked and house chores that need to be ticked off the list one by one. Life happens and it won't stop just because you need to finish a deadline. While there are plenty of distractions around you, there are many ways to counter it and be productive.

1. Minimize Distractions
Let that message stay unread by putting your phone on silent or turning off your email and social media notifications. Nothing could be more distracting than an email ping right in the middle of your writing, begging for the contents to be read. Turn off the internet and unplug. Find a quiet place. Let the people in your house know that this is your work time and you need to focus. Setting up space in your home where you can have privacy and focus on your work can help avoid distractions.

If the house isn't an option with plenty of chaos, take your laptop and find a quiet coffee shop or a bench in a park where you could do your work without any disturbances.

2. Do Your Writing ASAP
The best way to avoid distractions is to completely avoid them from the start. You open your email and you'll be tempted to read the rest of the emails. You say you'll watch one short Youtube video and before you know it, two hours have gone by. You start playing a short game and it begins to distract you from your real purpose. With a clear mind and while your focus is still on it, begin writing. Give yourself some breaks in between if your mind is starting to wonder but don't stay on it for too long.

3. Communicate
Editors and co-workers will likely pester you for deadlines and questions. Let them know that you're currently working on meeting that deadline and that you'll get back to them later. Don't just quietly disappear and become agitated when they start to wonder whether you're working or just goofing off.

4. Sacrifice Some Hours
If quiet time happens early in the morning, then make it a point to wake up and do your work in those wee hours of the morning. If it's at night, have some rest in the afternoon and do your work later on in the day. Although this cannot be predicted especially with kids at home, it's still worth it to sneak in a few early or late hours to focus on the difficult parts of your story or article.

5. Set a Routine
The importance of having a fixed routine cannot be stressed enough. There has to be some work-life-balance principle. If you find yourself overworked, your brain won't be able to formulate ideas anymore. If you find yourself being annoyed at what you do and unable to have enjoyment, you'll never be able to finish anything. Have a routine which allows you to work, rest, do the things you enjoy and have time for yourself and your family.

6. Ditch the Noise
If noise is inevitable and you need silence, invest in some noise-canceling headphones or get a pair of earplugs. Keep the levels to a minimum and play music that will help you think.

7. Learn to Say No to the Phone
Mute your phone. Callers will likely leave a message for you to call back if it's important. If it bothers you, have an alternative way of communication for family members and let them know that that backup phone will only be used for emergencies.

8. Wrap Up Your Thoughts
Like a runner slowing down before coming to a complete halt, you have to wrap up your thought instead of leaving it abruptly. That important thought could be forgotten once you go and pick up a call or answer a door. Allow yourself a few seconds to wrap it up before leaving your desk.

9. Work Offline
If you created an outline with plenty of research, you won't be likely needing the internet. One peek at that email, the red dot that signifies a notification or a single tweet from the bluebird can lead from one thing to another. The next thing you know, you're liking and commenting on posts instead of doing work.

10. Ignore Your Fears
Fear can instill some negativity in your head and manifest itself in several ways. It can make you think your work is not good enough, it can make you become an extreme perfectionist or worse, it can make you ditch writing altogether because you think you're not cut out for it. This not only hinders productivity but it also affects the well-being of a person. Just keep on writing and finish what you started. Are you a fortune-teller who can predict whether your work will make it big or not and how will you even know if it's going to be a failure when you haven't even finished writing it?

Life happens and will continue to happen but the beauty of life is having several choices to overcome difficulties no matter how challenging it may be. There are plenty of choices you can take and the actions you can do to become more productive. By being more focused and productive, you'll be able to set yourself up for success even when the world around you is chaotic and full of distractions.

- Hacker, Diana, and Nancy Sommers. A Writer's Reference with Writing in the Disciplines. Macmillan, 2011.

Last review and update: February 3, 2021
About the Editor
Ben Benjabutr is the editor of BookWorm4Life. He holds a Master's Degree in business with 10+ years of work experience and 8+ years of experience in blogging and online content production. He enjoys reading books about business, lifestyle and literature and he loves to share what he learns from books. You can drop him a line via e-mail.