I follow a blog called Zenhabits. I've recommended it before and want to send it your way again. A recent post seemed especially appropriate for writers. It's called The Little Rules of Action.
There are a lot of things I like about this post. It's simple. It's direct. It's true. I'm not going to summarize or analyze The Little Rules of Action here. Leo Babauta does it exceptionally well without my interpretation.
In the last couple of months, I've been trying to change my own habits in similar ways. Here's how I've attempted to decrease my distractions and increase my writing time:
1. Multi-tasking is out and focused serial-tasking is in. I pick a priority task, focus on that task, finish the task. I work on one thing at a time.
2. Every blog post I read does not require a comment. As a result, I read more blog posts now. I still register as a unique visitor on the blog's stats, so the blogger benefits when I stop by. I'm more inclined to comment on a good post with no or few comments than I am at a post that already has ten or more.
3. Too many lists, Yahoo! Groups, and newsletters eat valuable time. I gained almost two hours a day of writing time by stuffing those e-letters and e-mail digests into folders (in case I want to read them later). I suspect one day I'll delete the contents of those folders unread and may even unsubscribe from the lists. I haven't missed them.
4. I try to consolidate my errands and appointments so I don't have to go out in the car every day. I figure that every time I leave the house it costs me at least an hour of writing time.
5. Practiced relaxation has made it easier for me to write (and to sleep). If I concentrate on relaxing and dropping my shoulders, I find my whole body relaxes. When I'm relaxed, everything I do seems easier.
6. When I sit down to write a blog post or work on my novel, I just write. Revision and self-editing comes later.
Have you been distracted lately? Overwhelmed by the number of tasks on your To-Do List? Can't seem to stop editing as you write? Read The Little Rules of Action and see if there's a way you can apply some of these simple steps to your own writing life.