This is a guest contribution from Peter Banerjea.
It’s a thrilling vision, isn’t it?
You – a popular blogger. Writing posts that attract dozens of comments and thousands of shares. Your fans waiting with bated breath for your next post to ping into their inboxes.
But the reality couldn’t be more different.
You are just too busy – office, housework, family. You can hardly give your blog the time and attention it deserves. And that dream of you becoming the next ace blogger? Well, that’s slowly crumbling away into oblivion.
But let me ask you – Is it really a lack of time? Or do you just have too many distractions that are derailing your productivity?
I am not just talking about notifications on your phone or a colleague who wants a minute and takes twenty. You encounter numerous other distractions every day that you don’t even consider to be intrusions. That’s what makes them so damaging. They slip below the radar and gnaw away at your time.
Popular bloggers become successful not because they have more time than you. They have simply learned to recognise these distractions and keep them at bay.
What if you could do the same? What if you could become far more productive and fulfill your aspiration of becoming a popular blogger?
It’s absolutely possible.
10 distractions that sabotage your blogging success and how you can overcome each one of them:
1. A Buzzing Brain
Do you struggle to get into the right mood to write? Are you often preoccupied with thoughts about your daily responsibilities?
What will I present in the next review at the office? What will I cook for tomorrow’s dinner? What will I discuss during the next PTA meeting?
With so much pummeling your brain, you are rarely in the right frame of mind to write. So you put it off for – tomorrow or someday.
Deploy the Russian Maneuver
Why does your mind refuse to slow down? Because of the Ziegernik Effect, a psychological phenomenon discovered by Russian scientist Bluma Ziegernik in 1927. Here’s how the effect works:
If you have upcoming tasks that you have not planned for, they will tend to keep swimming through your mind. It’s just how the brain is wired.
Recent research by Professor Baumeister, author of the bestselling book Willpower, reveals a simple way out. All you have to do is make a plan to tackle those tasks, and they will not buzz through your mind as intensely or as often. In fact, David Allen’s GTD (Getting Things Done) productivity system is based on this philosophy.
The solution is to get your tasks off your mind and into a system like a to-do list similar to Todoist or Nozbe. If you prefer a more visual system, try Trello or Meistertask. Once you begin to plan your tasks diligently using a to-do List, the buzzing will subside.
Strike a Chord
If you’re still not in the zone, a couple of powerful tools to increase your concentration are Brain.fm and Focus@will. Both play music in specific wavelengths that are scientifically proven to boost concentration.
Meditation is an excellent way to improve your concentration. Just five minutes of meditation a day will heighten your focus.
Even if you don’t feel in the mood, forget about quality and force yourself to write. You will struggle in the beginning. But your brain will learn to switch on the writing mood and produce remarkable content.
2. Your Inner Nerd
How can you possibly write an outstanding post without research?
Great point. Which is exactly what makes research the most “insidious” form of distraction!
You can spend hours researching for each post. But how much of that information will you actually need? Research is important, but you must limit the time you spend on it.
Assemble the Bones
Don’t begin a post with research. Start by writing a detailed outline – the skeleton for your post:
What problem does the post address? What are the solutions? What points will support these solutions?
This approach will define a scope for your research. You’ll know what to look for and gather it much faster.
Channel Mr. Parkinson
Limit your research time. As Parkinson’s Law states, work expands to fill the time available.
Build a Chinese Wall
Avoid doing research and writing simultaneously. During the writing phase, don’t use the Internet. It will gobble up your time before you know it. Just write from memory, or refer to your research notes.
3. Investing in Perfection
You want your posts to rock. If they don’t, who will want to read, comment, or share?
But while it’s important to strive for an exceptional post, chasing perfection is usually a bad investment of your valuable time.
You take too long looking for the perfect image, the perfect quote, or the most insightful data point. You get carried away and never even notice how much time has passed.
You might not even consider striving for perfection as a distraction. That’s what makes this even more dangerous to your blogging productivity.
Check your ROI
Be honest with yourself – will a better quote undoubtedly make a worthwhile difference to your post?
If not, invest that time elsewhere – in promoting that very post or writing another one. Don’t forget the bigger picture.
Management Guru Peter Drucker said: “What gets measured, gets managed.” If you become conscious of the time you spend on each post, you will snap out of your perfection reverie.
Sometimes, the simplest solutions are the most effective. Take a Post-it, and write a message reminding yourself to spend a limited amount of time on your task.
4. A Dedicated Work Ethic
If you’re like most people, blogging doesn’t pay your bills – your job or business does. And, of course, that will take precedence over blogging – no doubt.
Therefore, can you do anything about this distraction?
Yes! One productivity technique can help you blog regularly, even with a full-time job or business.
Create a Timebox
Keep a part of your day (or week) blocked for writing. Not for research, social media, or influencer outreach – just writing. Turn off your phone and the Internet. Just write!
This approach works marvellously because you dedicate a specific time to writing, and you organize your schedule around it. You also create a temporary distraction-free environment.
The best time to create a timebox is in the early morning when distractions are at a minimum. But, if you are a night owl, create a timebox at night.
Facing too many interruptions at home in the morning and at night? Reach the office before anyone else does, and spend an hour writing. Or stop at a coffee shop on the way. Whichever works better!
Add some Punch
To add punch to the timeboxing method, include your timeboxes in your calendar, and treat them as appointments. You will be far less likely to get distracted by unexpected stuff that comes up.
5. Your Alluring Personality
People love you. Friends, co-workers, neighbors, and family members – everyone wants your time.
But are favors, commitments, and your social life continually interrupting your blogging?
Ask yourself a tough question, “How badly do I want to become a popular blogger?”
As Warren Buffet says, you need to start saying no more often if you want to become really successful.
Earn some Respect
Start by saying no to small things. That will give you the confidence to say no to bigger things. Very soon, most people will begin to respect your boundaries.
Get a Latte
If people you know aren’t around, they can’t disturb you. Take your laptop to a coffee shop or a library to write – somewhere where you won’t bump into a friend. What about distractions from your devices? Let’s talk about that in detail.
6. The Rise of the Machines
We are not in a Terminator movie world yet, but our devices have taken over our lives. When was the last time you spent three waking hours without looking at a device?
Admit it! It’s quite difficult to write with notifications interrupting you every few minutes. Believe it or not, according to Basex research, interruptions cost the US economy $588 billion a year in lost productivity.
Uninstall all Social Media apps from your phone. It’s less painful than it seems.
Next, use Hootsuite or MeetEdgar to schedule multiple social media updates in advance and avoid logging into your social media accounts. The less often you log in, the fewer chances you have of getting pulled in to admire birthday photos.
Silence the Opposition
Adjust the notification settings on your phone to disable all except the essential notifications.
Freedom is a tool that blocks several apps and websites across various devices for selected periods of time. It can also block the entire Internet. Writers like Seth Godin and Tim Ferris use Freedom to stay focused. It’s like your personal terminator repellant!
7. Eye Candy
Most distractions keep you from the act of writing. However, some things can distract you while you are writing without any warning. A painting, the view from your window, a calendar on your desk – all have the evil power to suddenly wrench you out of the perfect flow.
Face a blank wall when you write, not a window with a view or a wall with a lovely painting. Shift your desk, and remove paintings if you have to. Zen monks often face a wall while meditating. (Yes, they meditate with their eyes open!)
Keep a clean, uncluttered desk. Place all objects – pens, notepads, files, etc. – in a drawer. If you have pin-ups or photos, move them to the side so that they don’t lie in your direct line of vision but rather on the periphery.
What if you could write on a blank screen without the clutter of menus and icons? You can do that with the “distraction free writing mode” in MS Word, OneNote, Evernote, and even the WordPress composer Use this mode to stay focused.
8. Oscar Winners
Entertainment is an important part of life. It also makes you more productive by boosting creativity and reducing stress.
But are you devoting too much time to entertainment? If you are serious about making a name as a blogger, you must reduce the time you spend on movies, games, and books.
Break the Hypnotic Trance
Trying to spend less time on entertainment is easier said than done.
You might want to watch only 20 minutes of a TV show, but you end up staying till the end. You might want to read one chapter, but you end up reading till two in the morning.
The simplest workaround is to use a timer. A buzz can jolt you out of the trance of being glued to the screen.
Often, it’s easier to stop doing something altogether than do a bit of it. If an activity doesn’t mean that much to you, drop it altogether.
When is your energy level low during the day? Restrict entertainment to those times only. Make sure you don’t indulge in recreation when your energy levels are the highest. Save your energy for writing.
9. The Engine Room
It would be wonderful if writing were the only aspect of blogging, wouldn’t it?
But it doesn’t work that way! As a blogger, you have to take care of hosting, landing pages, WordPress, plugins, email management, and more – the engine room of your blog.
Often, you end up spending far more time and energy on these aspects than on writing. So how can you minimize these distractions?
Get a Co-Pilot
It’s not your goal to become an expert in tech. Then why go through the painstaking exercise of figuring out tech by yourself?
Upgrade to Business Class
Free or cheap tools may save you a few bucks, but they take away your valuable time and peace of mind. Besides, they are usually far more complicated to use than a premium tool.
For instance, if you choose a cheap hosting provider, your site will go down every now and then and drive you nuts. Instead, why not spend $10-$20 extra a month on hosting that is reliable and provides great support?
10. Shiny Object Syndrome
In the blogging world, every now and then, you will find a new shiny object – a hack that somebody applied and got thousands of visitors, apparently in a single day.
The temptation to try new things is strong, especially if you are not doing well as a blogger.
But have you considered something?
The very reason you’re not making progress as a blogger is probably because you’re always running after that latest magic method.
Why do we chase new opportunities?
Because we’re dissatisfied with the progress we’re making. This dissatisfaction makes us chase every new opportunity that comes our way. This is a vicious cycle that many bloggers get trapped into.
The truth is, every new “10,000 visitors in a day” hack that you hear about is actually a culmination of weeks or months of work. Blogging is very much like any other skill – it requires commitment, patience, and perseverance.
So how do you insulate yourself from the next shiny object?
Follow a Compass
The key is to remain confident so that you don’t feel compelled to chase every new hack or opportunity.
Confidence often comes from a clear sense of direction. Make a blogging action plan or content plan for the next three to six months. What topics do you want to write about? Which blogs do you want to guest post in? A to-do list and calendar will give you the direction and confidence necessary to avoid shiny temptations.
Keep the Fire Burning
Get regular small wins to build up your confidence. Pick a few popular blogs, and start pitching for guest posts. Each step – getting accepted, getting published, and getting shares – will give you a small but incremental sense of victory. That will give you enough motivation to repeat the process. Don’t disregard your small wins.
Make a list of things that you will NOT do – A not-to-do list. If you are a blogger struggling with your writing schedule, stop reading articles about Facebook ads to drive traffic, how to get a book published, or technical SEO.
Focus is Everything
Distractions are like the demons of productivity. They have many faces and tempt you several times a day.
Despite these distractions some people build incredibly popular blogs that have millions of readers. The reason why they succeed is not because they have more time or that they are more talented than you. They have taken concrete actions to overcome the numerous distractions that bombard them every day.
Want to become a popular blogger? Focus is everything. And now you know how.
What action will you take today to overcome your distractions?
Peter Banerjea is Co-Founder of SuccessIsWhat, a Productivity Coaching firm. He has coached numerous entrepreneurs and leaders from Fortune 500 companies to become more productive and achieve their goals faster. He is also a Content Marketing Strategist to several companies. To become a more productive blogger, download his Free ‘5 Point Action Checklist to Instantly Supercharge Your Blogging Productivity.’