Unless you can retreat to a mountain cabin (and even if you do), there will be the danger of distractions. Even in the mountain cabin, there will be a buzzing fly or an aching tooth. Many writers like to work in a café or a library, to get away from ringing phones, pets and family members, who, as much as they love you, just don’t get it. That sometimes works for me. Truth is, I prefer the comforts of working at home. But, lordy, that’s where the distractions are everywhere, and sprout constantly. Yet, even at home, there are environmental changes I’ve come up with (some on the advice of friends) that, small as they are, have made a substantial difference in my ability to focus.
- I hid the Freecell icon. This is crucial.
- Each morning, I put my office trash can out in the hall, so when my superb husband goes around gathering up the trash, he doesn’t even have to enter the room.
- I got a standard wire in-basket. There I place every single to-do item that can wait. I used to leave them on my desk, where they constantly reminded me of little chores that needed attention. I had them on my desk because I was afraid I would forget about them if I hid them away. With the basket, I always know where they are, but they are still contained away from the work space. I can work without the nagging fear that I’ll forget to pay the cable bill or answer an invitation. Later, after work is done, I can go through the contents of the basket and deal with the pile-up.
My tendency had been to try to ignore those petty and almost imperceptible distractions, trying to believe I shouldn’t be bothered by them. Now I know it’s better to recognize them and find a way around them. Little things can make a big difference.