You know how it goes, you sit down at your desk to be all sorts of productive, then BAM it's two hours later and you've accomplished precious little. Is it just me? Anyone else? You can raise your hand, we will get distracted together. No, no we won't. All joking around aside, I tend to get hopelessly distracted so easily. My intentions are always good; doing homework, banging out a post, cleaning out my inbox. Somehow my mind all too often wanders. Here are my five biggest distractions, or time sucks as I call them, and ways I try to combat them.
1. Social Media
Social media and I have a love/hate relationship. It's such a useful tool for bloggers, freelancers, authors, and so many more. Social media is also my enemy, in a few ways.
- If I need to post on Facebook or be more active on Twitter, I tend to get caught up in writing the "perfect" tweet, post, nugget of info, whatever. In my mind everyone else int he world is wittier, smarter, or more engaging, thus I obsess over getting it right. This is ridiculous, I realize it, but it often times doesn't slow my brain any. In an effort to combat this, I set a timer. I give myself so long to get my social media "business" done for the day, then call it quits. It gives me the kick in the butt I need to get things done and not make myself crazy.
- When I'm not obsessing over not being a social media superstar (ha, ha, ha) I get sucked into the vortex of feed reading. Whether it's news on Twitter, friend's stories on Facebook, or the five million things I want to DIY on Pinterest (seriously do not get me started on Pinterest), I very, very easily get lost devouring info online. My solution to this is once again setting a timer, but I do it a little differently in this instance. I will only allow myself leisure social media browsing time once I've ticked three things off my to do list for the day. Generally this means homework, editing on a freelance piece, and replying to emails. It gives me a break as well as keeping me from spending to long dawdling on the interwebz.
Research is great! Hang on, let me clarify, research for some things is great, but when it comes to research papers it can be kind of a drag. It's so easy for me to get lost looking up info that I am interested in. One would think this is good, and it can be, but other times I get so caught up in fact finding that it leaves very little time for actually taking what I've learned and putting it into action. My solution to this is to first outline exactly what it is I am looking for. Once I've found what it is I need, I stop. There's no need to keep looking and collecting a ton of information I do not need/will not use when doing so takes away from the time I could actually use to complete the project. No matter how interesting a subject is, there's no reason to distract myself from what I actually need to accomplish, at least that's what I keep telling myself.
This is how it goes: sit down, work, get hungry. Simple, right? It should be for most people. At this point, the following things happen. 1. Go get something to eat. 2. Decide to clean the kitchen. 3. Decide the kitchen is not clean enough, so sweep, mop, do things that don't necessarily need done. 4. Thinking about food makes me think about dinner and how I have no plan. These thoughts bring on a month worth of meal planning. 5. What was it I was doing? Maybe I have adult ADD, it's entirely possible. My mind doesn't always work this way, but when it does, oh boy! If this chain of events doesn't happen, a trip to the kitchen will bring on a recipe search binge that will take up hours. Learning to combat this has meant implementing meal planning and prepping, as well as putting myself on a strict time schedule. If I plan ahead some it greatly helps keep this from happening.
Do you love to read? I sure do! Unfortunately, I do not get in much leisure reading these days. When I do manage to sneak in some reading time it's hard to tear myself away. Usually I am either taking away from time I need to have my nose in a textbook or when I should be sleeping. There is no telling how many hours of sleep I've lost with my "just one more page" or "I'll just finish this chapter" thinking. The main thing working against me here is that I feel guilty taking time to do something that's "not necessary". Taking care of this situation has meant adjusting my thinking some. I deserve time for me and taking some isn't wrong. So, on days I finish my work as I should, I carve out some time for me to read. The world doesn't stop when I do so and it's part of taking care of me. We all deserve some fun downtime. Once again, my timer comes tot he rescue. When my time is up, it's up and that's it. This keeps me from losing out on hours of sleep wrapped up in a Caroline Kepnes novel.
Okay, so this whole post basically could be titled disorganization, but oh well. Not having my ducks in a row is the surest way for me to get distracted. On days I actually write down a to do list staying focused is much easier for me. There is a sense of satisfaction in ticking things off a list, so it helps keep me motivated. Staying organized is such a broad idea, but it can mean a few simply things. Planning for the unexpected, knowing how to ward off and deal with distractions, and scheduling your day can work wonders. My solution is to make a list, have time dedicated to work, school, etc, and a set stop time for the end of this "work day". It's how I deal and if I am consistent, it works for me.
I've shared mine, so what about y'all? What are your biggest time sucks and how do you try to combat them?