People have said the internet is one of the greatest accomplishments in human history. It gives everyone access to news, information and social acceptance, right at their fingertips. At the same time, it is also the source of decreased productivity in the workplace.
We’re all guilty of it; taking a few seconds to check our email, look at our friends Facebook status, see who won last night’s game, or watch one of many cat videos. According to a 2014 survey conducted by Salary.com, 89% of respondents say they waste some part of their workday talking on their cellphones or texting (50%), on the internet (38%) or just distracted by co-workers, taking long snack or smoke breaks, etc.
It’s frustrating, even more so for writers. People like to think that writers have a great job, just sitting in front of their computer, writing all day. While that may be true, I think writers have a greater problem when it comes to distractions. As much as some of these distractions aid the creativity, and to some extent, the sanity in writers, it is Hell when you have a deadline to meet.
Some of the best ways to avoid distractions is by writing when your friends are offline (usually late at night), setting goals for how many words you want to write each day, or if you’re desperate, try going into seclusion somewhere that there is no internet connectivity. These are some basic pieces of advice, but each writer should manage their own writing spaces for what works best.
Author and “Brain Scientist” Jeffrey Stibel calls it “attention dopiness,” stating that the problem is associated with dopamine levels. The higher the dopamine in our bodies, the better we feel, and these distractions (cat videos, rock n’ roll music, etc.) are what helps us maintain that high. One has to wonder, what started all this? Did we always have these distractions, even before the internet?
If you’re as old as I am, you remember your mother telling you not to do your homework in front of the TV, play your brother in PONG before dinner, reading comic books instead of finishing your book report on Huckleberry Finn or having an epic battle between GI-Joe and the evil Empress Barbie and her clone army before bedtime. These distractions have been with us our whole life; they’ve just taken a new form.
I think deep down we want these distractions, to help us get through the often-monotonous work day and breathe a sense of fun and adventure. So, maybe we shouldn’t mind the distractions, but manage them better instead. Set goals, parameters and guidelines about how and where these little side trips take us and when to focus on the job at hand. A little distraction never hurt anyone, unless you let it consume you completely.
So put down your cell phone, you can text your BFF later or finish that game of Candy Crush another time; and don’t worry, that totally adorable video of the cat playing piano will still be there tonight. Now, get back to work!
Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse. The Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt