Who among us genealogists doesn’t struggle with maintaining focus? We all know too well about finding a tantalizing record that sends us down a road that we find ourselves still traveling at 3 a.m. Lack of focus can happen in the writing aspect as well. Distractions are often procrastination in disguise, particularly if you find writing difficult. We will always find something to keep us from writing. Procrastination feeds writer’s block and forms a cycle that is hard to break. Below are a few of my tips for maintaining focus when writing.
When it comes to writing, time management is going to be your biggest asset for maintaining focus when writing. Try some of the following:
- Set a daily or weekly goal. Try a target number of words per day or a number of pages.
- Set a timer. Determine how many minutes you can work without interruption. I like to work for 50 minutes and then spend 10 minutes taking a break or doing another task such as folding laundry.
- Set a daily focus. Maybe today you are going to only work on a certain topic such as those land records or wills you just haven’t taken the time to transcribe. Or maybe you’ll work on fixing up your citations. Or changing your passive voice (to be verbs) to active voice. Having one focus boosts progress.
- Turn off interruptions. Turn off your phone or better yet put it in another room. Shut down your email program. Take off your smartwatch. Shut off the electronic doorbell. Whatever you’ve got that can interrupt you, shut it down. At least for the 50 minutes that you’ll be writing.
- Schedule your time. And stick to your schedule. Find a consistent time in your schedule that you can dedicate to writing and give yourself PERMISSION to stick to that time. Set an appointment in your calendar. You are just as important as everything else in your calendar (if not more so).
When we allow ourselves to work on our own projects, and we make progress, it refills
us and gives us some of our passion for the project back. When I think about all of the
things I’m not getting done, it really weighs me down and takes away some of my enthusiasm. I find when I set aside time, and stick to my schedule, my energy, passion, and enthusiasm “bucket” gets refilled and I’m much happier.
I hope you’ll give it a try!