Bossing myself around has turned out to be harder than expected. I discussed this in my last funemployment update but basically I’m discovering that it’s more difficult than I imagined to keep focused when I’m all alone staring at the computer screen.


If you missed Monday’s post, we discussed some ways that I’ve been able to get myself motivated.


Today, we’ll talk about avoiding distractions, and on Friday we’ll tackle creativity!




One of the most difficult thing about having 24/7 access to the internet is... well, let’s see if this situation has ever happened to you:


You’re writing a blog post and then “accidentally” click on your Bloglovin’/Feedly shortcut (you had gotten writers block, you needed to take a break, duh) and you get sucked into this holy-cow-this-is-the-best-post-ever-I-must-read-it-now so you read it and then by the time you’re done reading you’ve forgotten what you were doing in the first place so you just decide to go on Facebook for a quick minute and next thing you know 3 hours have passed by and you’ve stalked everyone in your second grade class.


It's okay.  It's happened to me too.  The internet is a scary place- it’s so easy to get off track while you’re trying to be productive!



How I Avoid Distractions


Save Things for Later

I know, I know, I keep bringing it up... but this is another job for Evernote! (They should really start to pay me for all this advertising...)


When I'm doing something productive (writing a blog post or something) and I happen to come across a really good article or website, I save it to a “to read” notebook on Evernote. This way, I can keep working on whatever I was doing, and when I have some downtime, I can open that notebook and catch up with all the stuff I wanted to read!


[Also- I use the toolbar extension to save the article so so that I don't get distracted by opening the whole Evernote program!]


Internet site blocker

No willpower to keep yourself off Facebook or Twitter? Download a fancy internet plug-in that will force you to stay off certain sites. My friend Lizzy introduced me to StayFocused, which seems to be just a Google Chrome plugin, but there are tons of others out there for every different browser. I use LeechBlock which is for Mozilla Firefox. The general idea is that you program the plug-in with the URLs of the websites you’d like to block, pick the days/times you want them blocked, and voila, you can’t Facebook stalk anyone between the hours of 7am and 5pm!


Create lists for yourself

I’ve written somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 blog posts since starting this lil ol’ site. Yet it still takes me a significant amount of time to write a post- and I know I’m not alone! For me, it’s tough because it's easy to get distracted while looking up a URL or researching something. So I’ve started a step-by-step list for myself to guide me through the blog post writing process.  Having each step written out makes it easier for me to stay focused and finish the post faster! In case it helps anyone else, here’s how I do it:


1 // Gather pictures & resize if necessary (I just discovered the site Pic Resize that can resize multiple pictures at once- such a time saver when you want to post pics that are all the same size!)

2 // Write rough outline

3 // Write post

4 // Insert links and pictures

5 // Add categories, tags, and schedule the post

6 // Use HootSuite to auto-schedule a few tweets to go out about the post the day it’s published


Think about the repetitive actions that you do on a daily or weekly basis. Could you benefit from writing down a step-by-step list to keep you on track the next time you do it? Having instructions, even for something as straightforward as a blog post, can make it quicker and easier to complete your tasks.



The “Real Life” To-Do List

Working from home makes the line between work-time and home-time verrrryyyy blurred. It’s almost guaranteed that as I’m halfway through what I’m working on, I’ll glance at our coffee table and then suddenly remember that I meant to set up auto-pay on our electric bill. And since I’m technically at home, it’s too easy to stop what I’m doing and address that issue.


But I can’t let that happen! Just as if I was in an office environment with a boss checking up on me, I’ve got to keep my work-time separate from my real-life time. So now I keep a list in my desk drawer where I can write down anything that I need to do later. This gets it off my mind so that I can continue working, but ensures that I’ll remember to address the issue when I’ve finished my work day and am back on home time.



Silence your phone

Phones are the devil. Especially smart phones! They make it so easy to get distracted. Try silencing your phone during the work day and see how much more you get done! If you are paranoid about missing an important call or text, set a few specific times during the day that you'll allow yourself to check the phone.



Close your email

Email is every bit as bad as your phone. Just like with the phone, try only checking your email at certain times. Maybe twice a day, maybe once every other hour, whatever works for your particular job. Processing email takes a lot of brain power, so by only checking at specific time intervals, you’re keeping your brain focused on more important tasks until you have the time and energy to address your inbox.



Just Write

I have a new favorite computer program: Focus Writer. This lil guy is going to It’s a computer program that you download and use as a word processor. It fills up your entire computer screen so that you only see what you’re typing at that moment, no other applications in the background. It even hides the clock! I use this to type up all my blog posts and I’m amazed at how much I can get done when I block out all other distractions.

{This is what the screen looks like while you type}


You can also set time or word goals for yourself- I set a goal to write for an hour each day, and there’s a little tracker at the bottom (you have to mouse over it for it to appear) that keeps track of your progress.


I’ve also found that it’s easiest to write all the text for a post and THEN go back later to add links and pictures. I add brackets around the words I want to be links so when I review the post later, I know where to put the links.


The only minor issue with writing in Focus Writer and copying/pasting into WordPress is that you’ll lose any formatting you had. So if I make something bold in Focus Writer, when I copy and paste into WordPress it’s back to plain text. There might be a way to fix this but I haven’t figured it out yet... hmmm.


Getting rid of distractions has helped me IMMENSELY. Try some of these tricks and see how much more work you get done! Unless, of course, you have enough mental willpower to stay off Facebook all day. If so, please teach me your ways..


Check out Friday's post about getting in the proper mindset to CREATE awesome stuff!



What are your favorite anti-distraction techniques? Do you use anything like Focus Writer? Or do you use any browser plug-ins to block websites?