We’re all guilty of getting distracted every now and again, aren’t we? Here are the top five things that stop me in my tracks when I’m probably trying to get something important done…
Instagram / The Temptation to Endlessly, Mindlessly Scroll
If I didn’t have Instagram, I’d probably get a lot more done. I’m sure plenty of people can relate. It’s quite the time-drain, isn’t it?
So, I try and take time away from the app because I know how easy it is to get sucked in. I can lose HOURS each day to IG if I’m not careful.
Watching stories. Making stories. Editing stories. Checking story stats. Liking photos. Replying to comments and returning likes. Planning my feed. It all takes precious time up. (And, like I said the other day, it’s all a bit futile.)
Me and Orla’s new book, Hashtag Authentic, has a fantastic tip. It’s so simple, but something I’d stupidly never considered before – a game changer – honestly: Setting a timer on your phone before you open the app.
I set a timer for either 5 minutes or 10 minutes, and as soon as the timer is up, I have to close the app. You’ll thank yourself for it if you try it too!
I always know when I’ve spent too long on my phone. (And not just because the screen time widget on my phone reminds me I’ve spent a shameful 5/6/7 hours staring at it that day alone.) It’s because when I spend too much time on it, particularly Instagram – which is my procrastination tool of choice these days – I feel really deflated.
That’s the only way I can describe it: ‘Deflated’. A bit ‘meh’. Down, but without a cause that I can easily put my finger on. Just fed up, generally, really.
And I’ve come to the realisation that the only time I ever feel like that is on days where I’ve spent too much time consuming an edited version of other peoples’ lives via an app where I, too, unintentionally construct a more polished depiction of my existence. It can all get a bit tiring, can’t it? Keeping up with the Joneses and pretending to be something you’re not. Plus, it’s easy to forget that we’re all at it. None of us are perfect, even if our Instagram grid makes us look that way.
So, my top tip for dealing with Instagram is to set stricter boundaries with it. It’s a huge distraction for so many of us. A complete and utter time-drain. And the only way to stop is to realise when we’re spending too long scrolling and to implement methods from doing it in the future. Easier said than done, admittedly, but so worth it in the long-run.
Noisy Neighbourhood / Driving Me To Distraction
Despite the fact that I live in a relatively quiet area where not a lot happens, it can get quite noisy.
Let’s just say that a sure-fire way to make me angry is to slam a car door near me. (I think it’s because that neighbour who caused a lot of problems back in the day used to slam car doors daily, and ever since, I’ve subconsciously been associating that particular sound with him.)
It can be quite distracting when I’m trying to concentrate. Say I’m sitting at my desk writing a blog post like I am now, and one neighbour lets their dog out to yap incessantly, the other has builders in for the seventieth day running from 7am-7pm who make constant banging noises that quickly drive me insane, and plenty of other people in the vicinity regularly slam car doors, rev engines and shout in the street – All of this seems to make me feel a little distracted, and that inevitably halts my productivity and creativity somewhat.
I usually blog in the evenings, which is the prime time for annoying boy racers to drive around in circles around my area. Nobody likes them, but nobody can seem to stop them, not even the police. It really distracts me to hear farty-sounding exhaust pipes constantly blaring across the neighbourhood, usually until about 4am most nights. They’re quite the nuisance.
While I totally understand that I probably need to lighten up and get over myself, it can be really infuriating when it feels like you’re surrounded by heaps of people who probably don’t realise – or care – that they’re being incredibly noisy all the time. The more it annoys me, the more I seem to focus on it, and therefore, the more it seems to distract me.
Without slagging off residents of my neighbourhood excessively, because I do have some lovely neighbours too, all of the disturbances that happen day and night can really grind you down. Their noise wakes me up early, stops me from getting to sleep, and stops me from concentrating when I’m trying to get stuff done.
So, how do I deal with all that excess noise? While I think that I might have misophonia because I end up
furious slightly irritable when people create a racket anywhere near me at any time (we’re talking within a mile radius – my hearing’s clearly quite good) I try and take a few deep breaths, and I pop earplugs in too, especially when I want to sleep. (Tragically, I found myself reading reviews and articles about the best ear plugs before I settled on these Howard Leight ones from Amazon. No, really.) I also have a radio on my desk and I turn that on so it’s gently murmuring away in the background when I’m blogging, which helps to block out some of the noise too.
YouTube / Falling Down A Rabbit Hole
You know when you’re trying to get something done but the lure of social media gets you? YouTube is another one of those for me.
I’m subscribed to a lot of photography YouTubers today (incidentally, you can find my favourites here!) and, again, it’s so easy to get sucked in. Most of the time, they leave me feeling really inspired to get out there with my camera, but sometimes they have the opposite effect.
I normally use them as an incentive to get something done. If I write a blog post, I’ll treat myself to a couple of videos afterwards. If I edit 30 photos, I’ll treat myself a video… you get the picture. (No pun intended.)
I incentivise it. And if I have a ‘night off’, I’ll often spend a while catching up on the videos I missed recently. (Doing this ensures that you don’t waste too much time watching videos that aren’t actually offering anything valuable – Ones that don’t inspire or entertain you.)
If you’re lured onto YouTube too often, I’d suggest utilising your Watch Later playlist so that you don’t feel that FOMO. Schedule time at the weekend to catch up on your favourites, if you can. As well as that, and incentivising use of the app, I’d also recommend setting a timer if you’re losing track of time on there.
News / Gives You The Blues
If you’re new around here, you probably don’t know that I trained up as a Broadcast Journalist. So that probably explains why I waste so much time every day reading/watching/listening to the news.
I’m forever flicking over to Sky or BBC News. I’m forever tuning my radio to the news. I’m forever opening news apps on my phone to find out what’s cracking off in the world. It gets a bit tedious if I’m honest. News can give me the blues if I take in too much of it. You’ve seen the state of the world right now, so if you bring that to your attention daily and force yourself to consume reminders of that consistently, it can have a tendency to bring you down a little.
The world isn’t actually quite as bad as the news would have us believe, I think. If we look up from our phones and take note, that is. Keeping yourself informed about what’s going on in the world is one thing, but I probably take it too far most days. It almost feels like I’m addicted to the news.
So, how do I combat that? I don’t, really. If I feel like I’m getting too sucked in, I can tell because, like with social media, I feel a bit deflated.
It’s just a case of being self-aware I think, and mindful of how it’s making you feel. It really isn’t the end of the world if you’re not completely clued up on everything (unless you’re a journalist) so give yourself a break and watch, read or listen to something that makes you laugh or leaves you feeling inspired instead.
While it’s hard not to feel like the world is in disarray when you’re always tuned into the constant dread-inducing cycle of news on the news channels, it’s important to remember this:
Bad news sells.
We see less good news, not because it doesn’t exist, but because it doesn’t sell newspapers and it doesn’t generate ad revenue for publishers. The same goes for TV, radio, and the Internet news outlets: good news doesn’t garner the same levels of audience engagement, so bad news is what trickles out into the world and into our homes and heads. Don’t let it get you down.
I’m trying to create greater boundaries with current affairs by only watching the 6pm or 10pm news programmes, by retuning my radios into stations that are more music-based (y’know, like other normal young people listen to on the regular) and by being mindful of my use of news apps and websites. Instead of opening them because I’m bored while sitting on a train or waiting for someone, I’m trying to leave my phone alone and take my surroundings in more.
Blog! / The Curse of the Stats
My name’s Katie and I have an addiction to checking my blog stats.
I think that’s why I’ve been going through phases of writing less frequently than I used to over the past couple of years, because blogs aren’t as popular as they used to be, and I can see that reflected in my stats.
It can make you feel a bit disheartened that you can no longer hark back to the ‘good old days’ of blogging – circa 2014. As an aside, this decrease is probably why a lot of fantastic bloggers have quit blogging altogether over the past couple of years.
How do I combat this urge? I try and set a reminder on my phone that actually says ‘Stop checking your blog stats!’ (Seriously.)
Does it work? Usually not. I’ve never managed to go cold turkey when it comes to Google Analytics, but I am only checking a couple of times a day now, instead of about 50. (Slight exaggeration.)
Lately, I’ve tried to curb my obsession with blog stats by focussing on actually doing blogging, which is why there’ve been many more posts published here over the past month or so. If you’re getting too bogged down in the numbers, you’re not going to enjoy the blogging process as a whole as much. If you also struggle with this, maybe it’s worth deleting the apps in question from your phone or by setting a time limit on them.
What are your biggest distractions?