Avoiding the Time-Sucking Traps: 8 Smokin’ Hot Bloggers Share Their Secrets for Staying Focused Online

Realizing I’m surrounded by amazingly talented and successful entrepreneurs, I decided to ask them to share with you their secrets for staying focused online. As you’ll see, it’s not easy for anyone no matter how much or how long they’ve worked online.

It’s well-worth the few short minutes it’ll take to read it…and please don’t forget to share!

First, get everything in front of you that you need in order to accomplish the task at hand. Download files from your email, get handwritten notes in front of you, or log into your project management tool.

Have everything ready to go.

Next, close down everything that could distract you. No tabs with email, Twitter, Facebook, or Google Reader allowed. Shut down Skype and IM and Tweetdeck. Clear your virtual desk so that the only thing in front of you is what you’re working on.

Finally, block out the time you want to use. The worst thing to do to yourself is work without a set end time, because it makes you feel trapped in the important stuff you actually want to accomplish. Set a timer (on your phone, with a physical timer, or use e.ggtimer.com for no more than an hour at a time, and work until the timer goes off – and then TAKE A BREAK. If you’re not done yet, start again after fifteen or twenty minutes.

Jessica Westrick from Top Writing Reviews

For me, what works is being motivated. I have to WANT to stay focused, and that means making sure I’m doing something I enjoy, or have a goal that means a lot to me. Fear of not paying the bills is actually counterproductive for some reason, it just shuts me down. So I guess I’m someone who is motivated by desire rather than fear.

Jeanine from DressMyTruth

Staying focused online can be a challenge for all of us and I look forward to reading (mining)the other responses for tips I can use! For me, being a write-at-home, homeschooling mom means that most of my attempts to focus occur in between interactions with my son and during his sometimes noisy attempts to entertain himself while mommy is busy.

But I do have a few tricks up my sleeve!

I maintain a running to-do list, which helps to identify what to focus on, I drink tea and try to meditate at least briefly before I get started. That helps me get calm and clear and tuned in.

And I arrange my schedule in such a way that I am working during the times I am most likely to be productive and clear. I also use a combination of essential oil blends and energy healing techniques to help me with both clarity and focus.

Those techniques and strategies help a great deal! But I think the real secret, for me, was the experimentation and commitment it took to identify each one of those tricks as helpful. That is what I recommend for others.

Try everything that might work until you have an impressive collection of things that do.

Mike Reeves-McMillan from LivingSkillfully

To stay focussed online, I divide up my time into blocks about half an hour long. The last few minutes of each half-hour are break time where I get up and move around. The rest of the time I spend working on one thing.

Every now and then, I assign a block to email or Twitter. I have a timer, and when it goes off, I stop.

Kriszia from FlipnFreelance

I use the Pomodoro Technique.

But if push comes to shove, I turn off the internet!

(Jenny’s Note: Kriszia mentions the  which is the basis for the freeFocusBoosterApp)

Jen from DesiSisters

The answer refocus, is, ‘I don’t’ and the consequences are not good to say the least.

Focus Booster is helping me get track of time, but any excursion onto the internet results in me diving off all over the place, taking a good look at all the different people out there….

Roger from FloorElf/h3>

When Jenny first asked me to write something for this my first thought was “Next time my yak has a flat tire I’m diggin’ out the lemur…”

Really, that was my first thought. “What the hell does that have to do with this?” you may ask (quit talking to yourself). It has absolutely nothing to do with this – that’s the point. Every one of us has other things we would rather be thinking about or doing when we need to get shit done. The way I make it work is to incorporate some of what I want to be doing into the things I need to be doing – like writing this. I’m sure Jenny wasn’t planning on a lemur reference. I digress.

The most painless way I have found to do this is to do or write about things you know and things you love. I love tile. I’m also fond of bad humor, platypuses (yes, that is the plural of platypus), lemurs and dogs spontaneously combusting (not literally, relax) all of which you will find on my blog – about tile. Strange? Yup. And that’s why it’s popular. Well, that and the fact that I’m not afraid to start a sentence with ‘and’.

I understand you can’t do this with everything you need to do – I can’t either. However, when it comes to something you can do in your ideal way, like your blog (it IS your blog!) incorporate as much of whatever you enjoy into it. When you do that it becomes less ‘needing’ to do it and more ‘wanting’ to do it. Now what did I do with that lemur harness…?

(Jenny’s Note: I absolutely was not expecting a lemur reference…also, please don’t tell him where I hid the harness.)

Susan from SusanTBlake

Staying focused on the wrong things is really easy; it’s staying focused on the productive things that will move my business forward that is hard. In particular, it is far too easy for me to get lost on email and Twitter. Both can be hugely useful (and fun), but they can also be traps. There are just so many bright and shiny things to be distracted by!

Here’s what I’ve had some success with:

1. I spend allotted amounts of time in email and Twitter, and then I close them. If I just minimize their windows it’s way too easy to go back and get lost.

2. I’m big on lists, and my weekly to-do list has categories: One for my clients, one for my writing, one for my photography, one for personal stuff, and one for myself as a client. Yes, I treat my business like another client. I go through each column every day and highlight the things that need to get done that day, and I prioritize across the columns. That prioritizing is really important, and it made a big difference when I started thinking of myself and my business as one of my own clients.

And, oddly enough, browsing email and Twitter aren’t on the to-do list.

(Jenny’s Note: That last bit always gets me!)

Thanks SO much to everyone for sharing their awesome words o’ wisdom! Help me thank them too by shipping it off for your friends to peruse.

One last addition: my friend Tisha wrote a great post on a similar topic:

“Focus is important to get difficult tasks done, but it’s also a necessary tool to bring our attention back to the big things in our lives that really matter instead of getting caught up in overwhelm. I was reminded of this extremely important fact recently after experiencing a .”

8 Responses to Avoiding the Time-Sucking Traps: 8 Smokin’ Hot Bloggers Share Their Secrets for Staying Focused Online
  1. Rachael
    December 2, 2010 | 11:43 pm

    Oh WOW. Marvelous post! What a huge list of awesome people that I get to be in!

    Thanks so much, Jennifer, and now I’m off to steal everyone else’s ideas too.

    • JennyB
      December 2, 2010 | 11:58 pm

      It’s truly an amazing list. Thank you so much for being a big part of that awesomeness, Rachael!!

  2. Susan T. Blake
    December 3, 2010 | 12:40 am

    Hey Jenny, Thanks for including me in this! And thanks everyone for the great ideas!

    (And silly me, I thought it was platypi.)

    • JennyB
      December 3, 2010 | 12:48 am

      OMGosh good~!…I would’ve voted ‘platypi’ too.

  3. LaVonne Ellis
    December 3, 2010 | 4:10 am

    We all wind up in the same places, don’t we? Thanks for including me, Jenny, though now I wish I’d offered something more specific. :p

    • JennyB
      December 3, 2010 | 2:46 pm

      We really do. I think it’s helpful that people who might be just getting started can see how everyone struggles with the same things too. But the only way to truly fail is to give up. Thanks LaVonne, your input was perfect!

  4. Jen (Desisisters)
    December 3, 2010 | 1:05 pm

    Great post…agree with Lavonne, even fear of needing to earn doesn’t keep me on task, in fact that fear is possibly the man reason I can’t just relax and do as Roger/Floor Elf advises, incidentally, thought that was Femur not Lemur…seriously concerned there….. O

    • JennyB
      December 3, 2010 | 2:47 pm

      Just yesterday I was having a conversation with someone about how fear can really be a show-stopper sometimes. We’re so lucky to have this amazingly supportive community, as evidenced for me by the fact this post was possible. You guys rock! Thanks so much Jen!!

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