Focus is not a Four Letter Word

Hey everyone. Casey here.

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. And while in my experience that seems to be true, it’s not always obvious that a behavior has moved over into the “insane” column.

ClockHere’s an example of what I mean. Between my family and my writing career, I manage several mailboxes (five to be exact, six if I count the day job). For the last four years, I’ve been deleting annoying and unwanted emails.

Every. Single. Day.

It had become such a habit that I didn’t realize I’d entered the insanity zone. I mean, did I think that by deleting them they would magically stop coming?

I dunno. Maybe.

Like everyone else in the universe, my time is limited and very valuable. So is yours. The world is filled with miniature, time sucking vampires like unwanted, unneeded, unread email.

Of course this got me thinking. What other subtle activities are robbing me of focus? And what can I do to get rid of them?

Do you have the same problem? I bet you do. Naturally, I have some tips:

1. De-clutter your inbox – i.e. stop receiving so many damn useless emails. Do you find yourself deleting the same kinds of emails over and over. Magazine subscriptions, sales at every store known to mankind: Macy’s, Land’s End, Kohl’s – you name it. Go to the bottom of the email and click unsubscribe then follow the directions. See? Easy Peasy.

One word of caution. Do not do this with spam. No, no, no. Actual spam (if it’s coming into your inbox) should be ruthlessly marked a such and sent to the spam oubliette where it deserves to rot.

2. Go to your social media sites and check your settings and eliminate all the needless notifications. Many social media sites send these because you fail to notice all those little check boxes when you first sign up. Or they change policy (looking at you, Facebook) and decide you need to know all kinds of useless stuff. Unless of course you like to know that your brother’s wife’s sister’s cousin has a strange alligator rash on her skin. Ewww.

3. Be in the moment. What does that mean, Master Yoda? It means don’t multitask. GASP. I know. Crazy, right? Believe it or not, it’s not really possible to write a book, talk on the phone, and make dinner all at the same time. Multitasking is a myth people! Focus on the task at hand. The end result will be better.

4. Disconnect. Yup. You heard me. If you want to get in your word count and you can’t stop visiting the world wide web – then turn off the wi-fi. Duh. Don’t worry. Your brother’s wife’s sister’s cousin’s strange rash will still be waiting for  you.

5. Unleash the hounds, Smithers! If your significant other or family can’t leave you alone when you need to work, then sorry, you have to let them know to please leave you alone. If escaping your house isn’t an option, might I suggest a pair of earplugs? They got me through years of younger son’s Call of Duty shouting matches with his friends.

That’s all I’ve got for today. If you have other tips, please share.

Remember to take time to enjoy the flowers.
Remember to take the time to enjoy the flowers.

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6 thoughts on “Focus is not a Four Letter Word”

  1. This is awesome, Casey. And very timely. I’ve been thinking about this for months and putting off the extra few minutes it would take to unsubscribe to all those ad emails…of course taking ten seconds will ultimately save me minutes and probably hours in the long run. Great tips! I’m cracking up about the multi-tasking. Most days I feel like I have three heads sitting on my shoulders and not nearly enough hands:-)

  2. This is all great advice, as always! One of my big time sucks is research. Since my novels have an element of history behind them, it’s easy to enter the research wormhole in the morning and come out in some alternate universe somewhere around dinnertime, with no memory of what happened in between. And right now I’ve got another story tapping insistently inside my skull–a story that has no right to any of my attention for at least a year–and it’s a story that requires quite a bit of, you guessed it, research. (It’s a historical women’s fiction) So unplugging is probably the best option for me. Another trick I use on myself is that I’ll set a time limit on the internet research–20 minutes or whatever then it’s back to work on what I’m supposed to be working on. I actually set a kitchen timer and when that goes off, I’m done. If the voice in my head feels like it’s getting a little attention, it’ll leave me alone for awhile.

    1. You know there are apps you can install on your machine that actually cut off your wi-fi for specified periods of time. I’ve never tried it, but they’re out there!

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