How to eliminate distractions while writing

2020-09-30

Try to eliminate interruptions — by other people, email, your phone, or poking around the Internet — but don’t tell yourself that you can only work with complete peace and quiet.

I loved this point from an article, I read. I thought about how I to achieve this in my schedule.

Easy DND - Do Not Disturb mode. Switch this on and all the unnecessary calls, messages, internet based distractions are all off. Use a pomodoro® technique by using a timer to focus on the (writing) task at hand.

Definition of distraction

1: something that distracts : an object that directs one’s attention away from something else

turned off her phone to limit distractions

Source - Merriam Webster’s

This is the dictionary definition of distraction. Not so earth shattering, but look at the example for usage in a sentence.

Arjuna’s Parrot

Source - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arjuna

Let me distract you for a while now. This photo is of a statue of Arjuna (in Bali, Indonesia), a character from Mahabharatha. He was given a task of shooting at the eye of a parrot. When asked to described what he saw, by his guru Dronacharya, Arjuna said that he saw the parrot’s eye and nothing else. Of course, his brothers and his cousins described everything around the parrot, but not Arjuna.

Steps to eliminate distractions

So, how do we get this extraordinary focus in any task, particularly writing?

First step, as you saw in the Merriam-Webster’s definition, switch off the phone or put it on DND or Do Not Disturb.

So, if you go with that mode, your brain starts wondering - but what about emergencies?

Android has this amazing option, where it allows certain things to be allowed even in DND mode, like calls from your favourite numbers. So, favourite your loved ones' numbers.

But, how do I prevent myself from going online and spending hours on “research” while writing?

A tomato to the rescue.

In Italian, a tomato is called pomodoro. Francesco Cirillo (https://francescocirillo.com) invented a timer based technique to get to a Arjuna-parrot-eye level of focus. Francesco’s solution - a simple kitchen timer.

How does the technique work? Set a timer (I set it for 45 minutes) for some pre-determined time and focus on your work (writing). The ticking timer brings the much needed focus.

Francesco suggests that we even think and measure our tasks in pomodoros.

I’ve extensively used this technique and I have never been in a (tomato) soup. Ok, bad joke. :)

Recap

Let’s recap:

  1. Switch off or DND your phone
  2. Set favourites on, so that they may reach you in case of emergencies (not urgency, but emergency)
  3. Think of which task you want to focus on
  4. Set timer for, say, 45 minutes
  5. Start working till the timer goes off

If someone distracts you, point them at a timer and say, “I am in the middle of a pomodoro, I’ll get back to you soon.”

Now, finish that book you have been meaning to write!

Reference - https://gretchenrubin.com/2009/05/thirteen-tips-for-actually-getting-some-writing-done

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