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.

What do you think? Do you have any strategies for taking action on distraction and staying in the creativity zone? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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