1. Pinpoint your role in your distractions. Next time you find yourself missing in action during your “writing time,” ask yourself if the culprit behind your distraction—is you. Don’t load the dryer thirty minutes before you’re sitting down to write, and you won’t be distracted by the buzzer. When you’re at the computer, don’t take “just a second” to check emails, Facebook, and Twitter, then be shocked when your writing time is over and you have nothing to show for it. By recognizing the role you sometimes play in getting sidetracked, you can change your habits in a manner that leads to success.
2. Consider your internal clock. Everyone’s internal clock is different, and the time when you’re most free of distraction isn’t necessarily the time when you feel most energetic or creative. Try shifting your writing schedule to accommodate your personal energy level. Even a small change can drastically improve your writing performance. If you’re naturally a night owl, go to bed twenty minutes later and use the extra time to jot down ideas. A morning person might find it easy to wake up twenty minutes earlier to spend a few minutes writing before getting ready for work.
3. Make an effort to organize. Some of us are natural neat freaks, and some of us thrive on creative chaos, but any attempts at organizing your work space will improve your writing time. Know where to find your vital tools when you need them: computer, paper, pens, etc. If you only have fifteen minutes to write, you don’t want to waste ten minutes searching the house for a sheet of paper or your laptop charger.
4. Set defined goals. Break down the individual goals you’re trying to accomplish in your writing sessions. You might find that your “writing” time actually involves making revisions or conducting research. Set aside a few minutes each day, or a certain day each week, that you block out specifically for these writing-related tasks. By putting your goals on a timetable, you’ll be able to follow through more effectively.
5. Create a plan and stick to it. Once you’ve completed the first four steps, you can create a realistic writing schedule for yourself. By making a plan that fits your lifestyle and habits, you’ll find it easier to complete your writing assignments—even if it’s only in ten-minute increments at a time.