Screens are designed to hold attention. More accurately, I’d have to say what’s shown on screens is engineered to hold attention. It doesn’t seem to matter if it’s a TV or phone. The irony is that these same screens don’t hold our attention in the same way when work needs to happen. Working from home adds another layer of distraction to the mix. But overall, I’ve managed to control physical interruptions much better than screen/internet based ones.
How are you removing distractions so you can write? § My first response was “focus.” If I am fully engaged in a task, a bomb could go off and I won’t notice. I think this is a universal concept. Books have been written about The Zone or getting into Flow. The fastest way for me to realize that I’ve been in a state of focus is the surprise when I’m knocked out of it.
Today I didn’t use the Pomodoro Technique. It wasn’t so much a planned thing, but just how the morning worked out. I wanted to get right to work on an outline for a longer project. I dove right in and didn’t start my pomodoro timer. I had my other timer running, the one I use for tracking billable time1. So, there was a running counter in my menu bar. My first thought was to just look up at it, and take a break every half-hour or so.
Dividing up my day can be the hardest part about being a work-from-home freelancer. It’s easy to get distracted, by all the things. The Pomodoro Technique I forgot where I first heard of this, but it’s really been a huge help is how I manage my day. Its creator, Francesco Cirillo, has a site that explains it in detail. He also sells the little tomato shaped kitchen timers that gave him the idea.