Writers: There’s a Murderer Lurking Around U — It (Silently) Kills Productivity
Distractionless Writing is the ONLY answer
Do you know what’s the worst part of being a solopreneur? There is no penalty if you sneak in some extra fun time or drop your work efficiency by 20%.
No deadlines. No targets. No accountability.
You are your own boss.
And THAT, my friends, is why writing is a difficult task. It is all about YOU. It all boils down to our ability to focus.
The rewards are many, but only if you can starve them to death:
The more focused you are, the more you achieve. But focusing is a rugged terrain to walk in when distractions surround you.
The distraction black hole
This topic can stretch to become a story. But I will spare you the pain.
Well, what to start with? There are so many! But, for me, they sit broadly categorized in two boxes.
My biggest distraction — IDEAS.
I know it may sound crazy, but hear me out. So, this is what usually happens.
I start writing on a topic, and another idea crops up while researching for the same or framing the draft. And as a hoarder, I have to jot it down somewhere.
So, I would open a new story on Medium to jot it down or WhatsApp it to myself.
And this is where the demon of distraction grabs me.
The moment I open Medium or WhatsApp, these notifications and unread messages pop up. One thing leads to another, and I would have spent a good 20-min doing non-productive work.
Next in line of distractions — NOTIFICATIONS.
It’s like the itch that needs scratching. The monkey that keeps dancing till you pay attention to it.
With the boon of online comfort has come the bane of notification stress.
Some are too tempting to resist, like a payment notification! Yummy!!
And then there are so many others that can ruin your moment, as you spiral down to nowhereness.
“As the brain transitions between contexts, our train of thought has been broken. And when we go back to what we’re doing, it has a hard time remembering exactly where we were.”
Says Sophie Leroy, an expert on work interruptions.
Redemption — the way out
Well, it’s a simple solution:
Let the mind be free from any distractions. Just be in the moment, and immerse in the flow of your thoughts.
There are many apps built for this purpose. You need to choose something for yourself, whatever suits you.
Interesting thing: I came across this app called Write or Die that starts deleting your work the moment you stop writing! If retribution works best for you, this is yours.
Well, for me, I found my solution in Effie.
EFFIE — my safe zone.
Recently, I came across this excellent writing app and have been a fan since. And the first and foremost thing that it offers is:
a blank sheet of a white/black page — completely free of distractions.
While I have covered the technicality of ‘how to use the app’ in another story, today, I would like to talk about distraction-free writing and how Effie has helped me achieve it.
Falling in love with a tool
Well, it might sound homo, but I love Effie.
Apart from its fantastic feature of mind-mapping, which has made my drafting super-easy and faster, turning this
It lets me visualize my entire story in one glance and make changes.
Coming back to the topic — distractions. And how I am dealing with them.
1. Color-free writing
I am talking about the red, blue, and yellow lines of Grammarly.
I know I can turn off the editor, but it is too much work. I am lazy, I admit.
But with Effie, I can write ‘beark’ or ‘brk’ instead of ‘break’, and it doesn’t bat an eye.
It doesn’t show me a red eye every time I commit a mistake.
The colors nag me, and I have to make them go away. I hadn’t realized the impact until I got the chance to write in a non-judgemental space.
Things became black and white.
Constantly going back to get rid of the color ruined my flow of thoughts.
And then there are things I like to do beyond the accepted perimeter of conventional grammar. I don’t want to be reprimanded every time I do that.
So, with EFFIE, I am like a dog running around free and having a great time. I am wild. I race alone to reach somewhere. I don’t know where — checking the map is something I will do later.
But invariably, I reach my destination.
2. Taming the ideas
Ideas are my naughty goblins — they need to be contained.
Many writers say they fall short of ideas, but for me, I am always in an idea-overload-burnout.
I have an endless stock of ideas and a persistent fear that I cannot write out each one.
The problem arose — where to store them?
Initially, it was all scattered around, here and there. Some I would lose, some I would forget about, and some became like a secret brotherhood code that I could not decipher later.
Now, I have all my ideas in one place — compartmentalized!
You see, I work on different projects simultaneously — Medium, LinkedIn, Books, Gumroad, etc. So, now I have a separate box to drop in my ideas without the fear of losing them.
This is what my idea chest looks like. Whenever I have one, I just go to the appropriate folder and drop it there. I write a line or two, so I have something to hold on to when I return.
This simple practice has eradicated much stress from my writing life.
3. No ding-dong anywhere!
Again it comes down to the blank screen.
It is just like a vast expanse of the universe inviting you to explore its every crevice. With no other tabs open, it is a calm and serene space to work in.
Notifications are not about being on top of everything and in synch with everything happening around you. They are actually hazardous.
A study to measure the disruption cost of interruptions suggests it takes avg. 23 minutes 15 seconds to regain one’s focus after a distraction.
A heavy cost, I must say. We writers cannot afford that.
So, when I sit down to write on the blank screen [I prefer the black screen over white] of EFFIE, I am totally immersed in my writing.
The green number on the bell, the bracketed number on Gmail, nor the numerous notifications on LinkedIn succeed in distracting me anymore.
I have noticed that what took me almost 2 hours earlier, I can do in just over an hour!
A boost in work efficiency by 100%!
That’s huge for me. That’s more time to invest in other projects, take a nice break, play with my daughter, or even binge for a while (hehe).
After all, I am the boss!
For me, it’s EFFIE — a tool I fell in love with the moment I discovered it.
While there are still some distractions that happen around me I cannot control, I am happy at least I can keep a check on the most counter-productive ones.
As a writer, you must program your mind to function in the most time-smart and energy-efficient manner.
So, take a dip into this abysmal bliss of distractionless writing and rediscover yourself as a creator.