How do you put yourself in "do not disturb" mode when you need to write?

Posted April 27, 2021 in
Content Managers Content Managers

Adam Stahl

I like to say that I put the "information" in information technology.

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Good day all,

I was wondering how you go about carving out, blocking out, or blacking out time when you 100% need to focus on writing and writing alone.

This is something I've struggled with in the past so I was wondering how you've had success as fellow creators of content.

One very small thing I've been training myself to do, and set the expectation of, is that I will only be checking email at the top of the hour. We have other means of internal communication but I know those email notifications can sometimes pull me out of that writing groove that I like to get into.

What works for you?
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Connor DeLaney
Katie Martens Stephanie Hagan Kimberly Marshall Sam Mims Francine Monahan  would love to hear your thoughts in this discussion!
Kevin Phillips
I'm at my desk all day reviewing content, having meetings, shooting short videos, using Slack, Basecamp, etc. With two big screens, it's hard not to constantly be glancing between the two of them. It's hard to focus on writing at my desk. 
That's why I've trained myself that my laptop is for writing. I now get in the habit of leaving my office and sitting somewhere quiet to write with my laptop. I often write at night when I'm more relaxed and there's less emails, pings, and notifications coming in to distract me.

Lex Russell
I always feel like I write better outside of normal office working hours...but it doesn't make sense for me to write then. Sometimes waking up earlier and writing can be better for me. I might try the laptop trick - I like that!
Adam Stahl
Thanks  Lex Russell  ! Agree that I tend to stack my writing now earlier in the day or the first thing I'll sit down and do when logging on in the morning.
Adam Stahl
Thanks for the insight,  Kevin Phillips  ! It's funny you mention the multiple/large monitor conundrum. I usually view it as an asset but to branch off your point, I think turning off my second monitor in those times could do some good for me.
Chris Marr
I've tried and tested a whole bunch of things. I think everyone is different...

For me:

  • iPhone is not in the office with me.
  • Internet is switched off.
  • I have snacks and a drink with me.
  • 3x5 index cards next to me for noting down thoughts and ideas not related to what I'm doing right now. 
  • I've downloaded a music playlist on Spotify. 
  • Timer to hold me accountable. 

    I'll easily do 2x90 min writing sessions back to back when I'm really focussed. I've gotta set those conditions tho, otherwise it's set to fail. 


Adam Stahl
Thanks for sharing your insights,  Chris Marr  ! I see some things in there that I think would work for me as well to set my conditions for staying in the writing groove.
Stephanie Baiocchi
For me - I give a few select people like  Connor DeLaney   my cell phone number and I let those people know I'll be offline (and the specific amount of time) to focus. If anything truly urgent is needed I direct them to Connor and he will decide if it's worth calling/texting me for or if it can simply wait. Basically, I treat it like I truly am out of office. In general, most things can wait a few hours. 

Also, I use a combination of Spotify playlists and background noise from Ambient Mixer to focus along with setting timers and having very clear to-dos. And snacks. 
Adam Stahl
Thanks,  Stephanie Baiocchi  ! I had never considered kind of that out of office concept and really *blocking* out that time.
Katie Martens
I'm in kind of a unique situation -- a small company and a significant time difference. it's easy for me to schedule writing time because I'm the only one working past 2pm (save for the occasional message from my boss). so, I get my writing done when nobody else is around.

but similar to some other comments, I try to set up a working environment where I can just block everything out and get the writing done. snacks and my favorite local radio station always help. pre-pandemic I would sit down at a coffee shop for a few hours and get the words out, but switching spots from my desk to my kitchen table does the trick for now. :-) 
Adam Stahl
Thanks for the insight,  Katie Martens  ! I'm really seeing that pre-planned snacks is a glaring weak point in my current strategy. It's interesting that you mention shifting locations as well because I'm going to start experimenting with that as well. Even if just to change rooms.
Connor DeLaney
Environment changes are big for me too when I write. I never write at my desk anymore, it's in bed or on the couch or outside. Love that,  Katie Martens .
Kimberly Marshall
It's not easy, and I love all the suggestions here. I will be trying some of them myself. The biggest thing for me is knowing when I write best, which tends to be at night when the demands of the day are fewer. Otherwise, there can be so many distractions. Working on shifting to the day, though, so I'm still figuring it out and using a lot of trial and error. I hope you find what works for you!!
Adam Stahl
That's so true, Kimberly Marshall   . The "knowing when you write best" and also "knowing the conditions when you write best" really seem to be at the core of this as well.

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