Blocking Out “Distraction Kryptonite”

Make Time Month, Week 2

Quick background: I decided to start off my new writing career with a month of experiments to make time and boost focus. (You can still sign up here if you want to join me!)

I’ve finished my first week of Make Time Month. Every morning last week I wrote down a “Daily Highlight”: One big-ish thing I wanted to get done that day.

My week 1 results: A strong start (but not perfect)

I’m trying to make time for writing, so here are my Daily Highlights for the last seven days:

  1. Write 1000 words (Did it!)
  2. Write 1000 words (Didn’t do it)
  3. Write 1000 words (Did it!)
  4. Write 1000 words (Did it!)
  5. Revise one chapter (Didn’t do it)
  6. Be a dad (Did it!)
  7. Revise one chapter (Did it!)

For me, the experiment was pretty successful. Definitely feel like I’m in more of a writing groove now than a week ago. Each day, the Daily Highlight kept me centered, even when I didn’t accomplish it.

A few notes: Writing 1000 words is a pretty modest goal, so I was disappointed I didn’t do it on day 2… in hindsight, I got distracted by relatively trivial email tasks. However, revising a chapter is pretty significant, so I felt fine about not finishing it on day 5. On day 6, my older son had a basketball tournament, which meant there was no way I was going to get any writing in, but it was helpful in the morning to acknowledge that and focus on being there — it really lowered my stress.

If you’re doing Make Time Month and you tried the experiment (or heck, even if you didn’t) I’d like to hear how it went, how you tweaked it, whatever. I put together a super fast three question survey, should take about two minutes.

Now, on to week 2!

This week, I’m trying to dial down distraction, which was my biggest obstacle last week. For many years I’ve kept apps like email, Safari, Twitter, etc off of my iPhone, and I have various tools and tricks to limit distraction at the computer. But email continues to plague me — it’s my Kryptonite! So this week, the experiment is…

Find your distraction Kryptonite and get rid of it

If you want to try it, here’s what to do:

  1. Pick the app or web site that distracts you the most from what you really want to be doing. This might be email, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Netflix, news sites — anything. Just pick the one that gives you the most trouble.
  2. Get rid of it. There are a number of ways you can go about this, depending on how intense you want to get. You can remove apps and accounts from your smartphone (follow the steps in my Distraction-free iPhone post or John’s Distraction-free Android post). If you want to limit distraction on your computer, you can install apps like Freedom or a Chrome plug-in like StayFocusd (I use both).

Personally, I’m going to set up Freedom so it blocks the internet until noon each day. I’ll continue doing the “Daily Highlight” and I’ll try to get it done before I check my email — with Freedom keeping me honest.

You might choose to do something similar and just shut off access for part of the day. Or you might decide to delete some apps altogether. Either way, I hope you’ll join me and give it a try! Next week we can compare notes.

Talk soon,

— Jake