Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post about how to eliminate distractions is written by Wendy Dessler of OutreachMama. Check out her bio at the end of the article.
Academic writing is difficult. It takes a particular set of skills—a keen analytical mind, the ability to properly organize your thoughts, and ability to express them clearly and concisely. These are things that most academics have in spades, and it allows them to produce work of superior quality, a necessity for creating the kind of work scholars are best known for (journal articles, books, textbooks, etc.).
One area where many suffer, however, is in the ability to continually produce this work at high volumes. Writer’s block, born of distractions and an inability to focus can plague just about everyone. How can you push through those distractions and start working at your peak more consistently? That’s what we aim to explore today.
It starts with planning & mindset
These two factors lay the groundwork for productive writing. Planning a writing schedule and some goals should come as second nature. After all, most teachers are already familiarized with holding themselves to deadlines for structuring coursework, grading assignments, etc.
Dedicate yourself to four or five writing sessions a week. These sessions don’t have to be particularly long, nor do they have to be exceedingly short. Choose an amount of time that is comfortable for you, make sure that it becomes a routine, and try not to exceed your maximum unless necessary. You can use various helpful tools to assist yourself with tracking time, many of which allow you to work a good break into the routine as well.
When it comes to mindset, there is one rule to remember: ditch whatever is hindering your writing flow. It could be that you’re hesitant to start writing until ever idea that crosses your mind is worked out to its perfect form before you commit pen to page. This, obviously, is a huge time waster, as the time to perfect ideas comes in the editing phase. You should concentrate on writing first and cleaning it up later.
Another possible time wasting habit could be that you’re prioritizing what to work on wrong, or working on things that, in the long run, don’t matter. Whatever it might be that’s getting in the way of productivity, you have to analyze your current routine to get to the heart of the matter.
Don’t let your devices rule you
When it comes to distractions, those born of our electronic devices are usually the most prevalent. Some academics feel inundated with too much email, or find it too tempting to check their social feed or how close they are to hitting their goals on that personal fundraising website. The solution to this is a simple one.
Don’t let your devices rule you. To manage your emails, consider adopting a schedule where you only check it once a day or set up filters to restrict yourself to only the most important messages. For other internet-based distractions, improve your discipline, or impose it upon yourself with programs that restrict your access to specific sites.
Create a comfortable space
This is critical for entering that vaunted “zone” where the right words seem to come to you from the ether. You can personalize your perfect workspace the way you like, just make sure that you have all the tools you need to write productively, comfortable furniture and an ample writing surface, a way to segregate yourself from the outside world (like a door that shuts all the way), and some snacks to help stave off those unexpected hunger pangs.
Wendy is a super-connector with OutreachMama and Towering who helps businesses find their audience online through outreach, partnerships, and networking. She frequently writes about the latest advancements in digital marketing and focuses her efforts on developing customized blogger outreach plans depending on the industry and competition. You can contact her on Twitter.