Are you prone to digital distraction? I am.
In fact, I’ve increased my ability to be digitally distracted so much that I hardly notice that I’m putting off writing.
What is digital distraction?
- Reading emails
How often do you check emails? When I’m stuck in procrastination, I happily check my emails every twenty minutes or so. After all, there could be an email that’s really important. I usually manage to find a few that I absolutely have to reply to at once. (After all, anything is better than having to tackle writing the piece I’m trying to avoid).
- Checking stats
Once I’ve finished with my email, I check my blog’s stats. If I’m desperate to avoid starting to write, I not only take a note of the visitor numbers, I also look at who’s linked to my blog and what people searched for on google. That can take a long time (very gratifying for a procrastinator!) And it’s so important (or so I tell myself…)
- Tuning one’s blog
A great way of digital fiddling is tuning my blog. I can spend a lot of time upgrading my plugins, finding new ones, or changing what’s in the sidebar. If I’m really desperate about avoiding to write a new piece, I’ll even look in the spam folder!
- Surfing the Net
Surfing the Net is a great way to stave off writing! I always justify why I’m doing it. I start reading posts on blogging, or procrastination, or writing. In my mind I call it ‘research’.
Networking is important, right? (Anyhow, that’s what I tell myself). Writing Tweets, putting something up on Facebook, responding to google groups – this is sure to take up endless time. And push out the dreaded moment when I have to start writing a difficult post.
- Using productivity programs
Using a productivity program is the ultimate way to procrastinate. After all, all programs needs fine-tuning. Maybe you want it to sync with your calendar? Or you want to add some more important tasks? I’ve learned to use up a lot of time using productivity programs.
Finally, a moment comes when I run out of digital fiddling. And the piece I need to write is pressing against it’s deadline.
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How to stop digital digital distractions
There are three actions you need to take:
1. Disconnect your computer from the Net.
It can feel strange for a moment. As if we’ve left the world behind. But it really means re-connecting with ourselves.
2. Turn off all programs on your computer, except for the one you’re going to write with.
3. Write the first sentence.
As writing coach Marla Beck says:
In order to finish writing a piece, you must write, even if your end-product is a hole-filled Swiss-cheese draft.
The great thing about writing is that words breed words. Once you get going, writing gets easier. In order to avoid feeling overwhelmed, I give myself clear goals. For example, I’ll say, ‘I’m going to write at least 500 words, then I’ll stop.’
[This post is now 513 words long.]
What is your experience with digital distraction?
How do you overcome procrastination?
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