“Whenever you want to achieve something, keep your eyes open, concentrate and make sure you know exactly what it is you want. No one hit their target with their eyes closed.” – Paulo Coelho
Even though I love what I do with all my heart and writing is simply my thing, it’s not always an easy task to do in a world that is oh-so attention seeking. Sometimes it feels like everything around me is pulling me away from my work, trying to get my attention, sucking out my focus. And that sucks. Over the years I’ve found multiple ways to stay on track and I thought I’d share some of my favourites with you, since I know that lots of people struggle with keeping their head in the game 24/7.
Coffee. Yes, it’s an oldy and a goody, but it’s definitely my no. 1 solution for when I’m losing my concentration. After exactly three espressos I’ll work like a maniac – and I mean a maniac. Nothing keeps me more focused on the job than a good old-fashioned coffee high.
Music. The thing that works best for me is some good classical music (Grieg and Tchaikovsky are my favourites), but instrumental rock works magically too! Spotify has some special focus playlists that are great for when you don’t have time to make one of your own.
Keep the outside world outside. Lock yourself in your room, close your curtains and make sure you can hear as little noise from the outside as you can. Solitude makes for better work, especially when you’re trying to get across a deep and important message.
Work first thing in the morning. This is especially when it comes to creative work, since your brain has a clean slate, it’s less likely that you’ll be inspired (which is not always what you need) by others. Your head will be clean and empty, ready for you to create magical things.
(Important side note: first thing in the morning doesn’t necessarily mean early in the morning!)
Do not disturb. Yes, that mode on your phone that creates a barrier between you and the outside world, it’s fan-tas-tic. My no. 1 distraction is the constant buzzing and it’s impossible to keep my head at my work when it feels like the whole world is trying to contact me, so off it goes.
Set a goal. You’ll definitely need a break sooner or later, but it’s a good idea to set a goal before you actually take one, since that way you know a part of the work will be done before you wander off with your mind (it’s inevitable and it’s fine, but it’s better if you’ve already done at least a good bit of needed to be done!).
Take fun breaks! Your mind will need some rest every now and then, but you don’t want it to be just you and a boring old sandwich. My favourite is the one-person dance party, just blast out a couple of songs and shake that bum!
Inspiration-notes. It might feel like a goofy thing to do, but writing yourself little motivational notes beforehand and hanging/laying them somewhere in sight will actually help you to stay motivated and get the job done.
Work at night. I’m not a morning person, I can’t function in the morning, I can’t think, I can’t talk, I can’t write. The time where I function best is when it’s dark and silent outside (my favourite time to write is 2 A.M.), there’s just something about being the only one working in the area that keeps the creativity flowing.
Set a deadline. Even (or especially) when you don’t necessarily need to, simply because you do want the work to get done and if you don’t set a deadline for yourself it may or may not take a really bloody long time.
Yoga. Stretching them muscles fuels the brain, it’s strange but it’s true. Just a few minutes of yoga beforehand helps me concentrate for a lot longer. When I feel like I’m wandering off I just hold a downward dog for a few minutes and I’m good to go again!
Don’t multitask. Some things simply deserve the time to be done properly, and if that means that it’ll take you a little while longer to get a whole project done, then that’s that. When you do it, you do it right, non?
Rewards. A lot of hard work does deserve some kind of a reward, whether it be a night out to the cinema, a dinner party with your best friend or that one pair of shoes that you’ve been wanting to get for ages. You deserve it, giiiirl (that goes out to the women and men reading this, ‘kay?).
So stop procrastinating and go get your work done, because you won’t always have the time to do it and you’ll wish you would’ve started earlier later on. It’s inside you and it wants to be brought to creation, and it’s your task to be nice to it and make it!