As freelance content writers, we quickly realize that our efficiency in writing affects the hours we need to put in to maintain our desired pay out. It is painfully obvious that distractions slow our work; when you are getting paid per assignment, you count on writing at a certain speed, and when articles take longer to write, you get fewer submitted in a day. Anyone who works at home is familiar with the myriad of distractions that occur on a regular basis. While children, pets and turning on the TV might be obvious roadblocks to a writer, there are other, more subtle pitfalls to avoid.
Writing on an Empty Stomach
Sometimes you might get so wrapped up in your work that you forget lunch; it’s not unusual to continue to stave off a growling stomach to complete another article or two. Yet, studies done on work environments and nutrition have shown that meal skipping is counterproductive to your work. The distraction of being hungry and the energy drain your brain experiences from a lack of blood sugar, leads to poor concentration, slower work and more mistakes.
Get Your Sleep
When we get less than 7 hours of sleep per night, we struggle with cognitive activities—our concentration, problem solving and creativity suffer. Aside from concerning health effects a lack of sleep will cause, you might find your eyelids drooping as you struggle to stay awake and continue writing. Trying to get a solid amount of sleep each night will help stave off this distraction, but if you do find yourself fighting the “Z”s, consider a 20 minute power nap to restore your energy.
The Call of Tabs and Windows
Facebook, Twitter, Ebay—do you recognize distractions in the form of web browsers? Closing tabs, games, programs and windows that don’t have anything to do with your writing will help you cut down on the temptation of getting off track.
Get Up and Move!
Every 30 minutes you should incorporate some type of momentary mental break and physical motion into your routine. Like any professional with a desk job, it is easy to find your self stationary and immobile for extended periods of time. Instead of increasing your focus, continuing to sit in one place actually causes drowsiness, a loss of energy and stiffness. Merely getting up and doing a small chore or taking a short active microbreak actually increases your ability to focus better on your writing when you return to it.
If you haven’t realized it by now, the point here is this: addressing problems in your work day actually takes less time and energy than ignoring them. Your mental and physical state affects your long-term and short-term production rate. By actively nixing the distractions and ridding yourself of anything counterproductive, you will be a better focused and more efficient writer.
Alethea M is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.