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Photo: Silmara Emde, the Orange Lamphouse Studio

Last week a client asked me how I manage to stay on task with concurrent projects. I told her it’s all about minimizing distractions so I can provide vivid stories and real value for the folks I’m lucky to serve. Here’s what I shared:

1: Morning pages. I read the Artist’s Way way back in 2010 and I’ve been an adherent of this practice ever since. It’s quite simple. Before checking my phone or laptop every morning I sit down and write three pages of whatever comes to mind. It could be dreams, concerns, questions. Doesn’t matter. I don’t fuss about being grammatically correct or eloquent, just get it down. There’s lots of fodder in these pages. For example, last week I dreamt all the balconies in the apartments around me were filled with majestic white horses. Sure it’s trippy, but it might come in handy one day.

2: Meditation. I sit for a minimum of 20 minutes every morning. My practice usually involves some form of compassion focus and paying attention to the breath. The good news is, even if I start making a grocery list in my mind, whenever I come back to focusing on the breath, I’m succeeding. This discipline trains my awareness and gives me space to respond creatively during busy times.

3: Move, move, move: I move/stretch my body before sitting down to write and take regular stretch breaks during the day. Around lunch time, I head outside for fresh air and come back refreshed and ready.

4: No news is good news: As a trained journalist, I’m curious about the storytellers out in our wild world that bring us the news with nuance and integrity so of course I want to see what they’re making. That said, during the week, the news is a no-no for me. There’s too much risk of alarm and outrage, two toxic distractions I don’t need. When the urge strikes, I peruse the beautiful photos on National Geographic. I save juicy long reads for the weekend.

6: Simple Social: I’ve whittled down my online presence to LinkedIn and my website/blog. By simplifying my social platforms and output, I have much more time to focus on writing and keeping the creative juices flowing. I also know plenty of business owners who are using Facebook and Instagram with fantastic results so I don’t judge. I just know what works for me.

7: Keeping in touch: Writing is a solitary endeavour so I make a point to get out to mingly events twice a week. Turns out Toastmasters is super fun so I’m going to join my local chapter. I also make sure I’m spending time with friends and peers in person over coffee or lunch.

8: Accountability partner: Last but not least, I just started meeting with an accountability partner on Friday afternoons. We set goals and report back on how far we’ve come. It’s a great way to establish deadlines and keep me moving towards milestones.

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7 thoughts on “Taking Action on Distraction

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