"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

Saturday, May 2, 2015

5 Ways to Stay Focused to Finish Those Projects!

One of the biggest challenges for writers today, with the Internet, social media, and the many "Ripley's- believe-it-or-not" things that beckon for our attention in the daily news, is staying focused.
Take for example, this week.

I wanted to check out the LinkedIn profile of a new client, for a project I'm working on, so I embarked upon a little research.
In so doing, I discovered I had received dozens of requests to add people to my network, since the last time I signed in.
Fascinated with their profiles, I ended up getting distracted, and spent way too much time on something that basically yielded no return on my investment.

Then there are the guest posts, book reviews, and "let's stay in touch" emails that must be explored and processed.

Factor into the equation, that as creative individuals, most of us have a natural and healthy curiosity.
We want the scoop on who's doing what, why and where.
After all, there's sure to be some story, interview, or essay potential in there somewhere. Right?

And did I mention the allure of Spring? Oh my!

..."Meanwhile, back at the ranch," you've got client work that requires your attention.
Bills that must be paid. Assignments from editors that compete to be completed.
Dreams you've been dying to pursue.

All the more reason you need to keep your eye on the prize and stay focused! There is too much at stake not to.


1. Make a list.
Lists provide structure, and often serve as visual reminders of the tasks you need to complete on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Another alternative that is equally effective is the online calendars available for scheduling "things to do."

2. Set Goals.
Any game plan that is not accompanied by concrete, clear goals is often just a waste of time. For example, this summer, I want to complete two books I have been working on for myself, and one for a ghostwriting client. Knowing this helps me to govern my time better and to "budget" accordingly.

3. Recognize that "time is money."
It's okay to goof off a little. Go to the beach. Spend time gossiping with your girlfriends.
Kick back to a good flick and indulge in a little chocolate treat. You deserve it.
In fact, sometimes the best way to actually be productive is to allow ourselves to be periodically immersed in outside things (and interesting folks) that can feed our creativity.
But set time limits. Then get back to work.

4. Disconnect to go the distance.
Truth is, some distractions we can control; others catch us off guard and take us off course.
But, I find that when I need to be fully focused and in the moment, it helps to take the phone off the hook and disable all the electronic devices that ring, beep, chime, and toot to get our attention.
The world will survive without you for awhile.
Trust me on this one. :-)

5. Get a Goal Buddy.
People use them in everything from working out at the gym, to studying for school, to creative projects. Simply put, a Goal Buddy keeps you accountable. It can be a relative, a friend from church, a neighbor, or a fellow writer. The idea here is to share your aspirations and to keep each other motivated and moving forward.

If you suffer from the "Next shiny object syndrome" these timely tips will help you to keep things in perspective and concentrate on things that matter most for your career.

Now that I've shared my thoughts here, care to share yours?
Leave a comment...:-)


  1. Sometimes going to a place that does have any internet connection helps... You have no choice but to only write.

  2. Yes Jen, all very true, great reminders! I am big on writing up lists and setting goals which helps to visualise getting the task done. There is another thing people over look and that is being realistic with time and how long things are going to take so factor in extra time when jotting down your daily/weekly list.
    Whatever you can really do today, do it! You never know what may come from out of the blue to take you away from that important deadline.
    The other thing I find is having to keep a tidy desk. If my space is cluttered, my thoughts can't take flight, I write better when even the distraction of messy paperwork is neatly filed away and not screaming at me to attend to it (I find my lists better this way too).

    1. I love the value that your comment adds here, Maribel. Being realistic about time is a biggie! Much thanks. :-)

  3. I do have challenges staying on track sometimes, from the "new shiny objects" to interruptions and other responsibilities to rabbit trails. Being self employed can require a tremendous amount of self discipline. Thanks so much for the tips! :)

    1. You're so welcome. Thanks for adding to the discussion, Karen. :-)

  4. I am such a victim of the "next shiny object" syndrome! And today's is spring, gardening, yard work and using up the rhubarb from last year because this year's is almost ready! And I have a book to finish. Wish there were three of me. Great post to nudge us back to our center, Jennifer. =0)

  5. Lists are the only things that keep me on track. Otherwise, I waste too much brain power trying to remember what I have to do.

    I'm looking at my list right now. It says, Write! Mon./Tues./Wed./Thurs./Friday/Saturday. (Monday is crossed off - done.) Guess I'd better get off here, so I can cross off Tuesday. :)

    1. Susan,

      I'm a big fan of lists. The more I can cross off the less I get crossed up! :-) I appreciate the feedback.