Distractions are so distracting. Here are a few ideas to help you cope:

1) The first trick for dealing with them is to be sure you’re not causing your own distractions: You check your email, Twitter or Facebook account, or make a quick phone call when you had started out to work on a big project, like writing a novel. And then, every so often you do the checking again. This kills your focus, and it will take some time to get back into the “groove.”

You’re doing something you have as a top priority on your to-do list, but it’s boring. So, you distract yourself by, you guessed it, checking email, Facebook, or Twitter. Making a phone call. Playing just one game of solitaire.

2) You allow others to distract you because you don’t have firm rules and signals to let them know you are working and should not be disturbed until you come up for air. This goes for family members if you work at home, and for co-workers at the office. Close a door if you have one, or put up a do not disturb sign if you need to. Be sure to take regular breaks where you are accessible, especially for children.

3)Try checking in with yourself about your habits. Have you made enough things you need to do every day a habit? Think about the habit of brushing your teeth. You don’t even say to yourself, now I’m going to brush my teeth because you do it along with other small grooming habits, every day. You probably do it at the same time every day. You probably, way back when, did have to think about it every time for several weeks before it became a habit. Make as many things you do most or every day habits. This saves mental energy, so you will get more done before being tired.

3) Perfectionism can be a distraction. First of all, it’s practically impossible to get everything you do perfect. You must decide while working on a project: when does it become “good enough?” After that, aiming for perfection is a huge distraction. You’re better off starting on something new instead.

Bottom line: When you get ready to tackle the most important jobs each day, close the door, turn off your phone, shut down your internet connection, and forget about perfectionism. Make all that a habit, and you’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish every day.


The Facebook motto, “Done is better than perfect” is something to think about. Creative types learn this early, or if they don’t they never finish most, or even any, projects.

If you haven’t finished the job, you can’t even start to make it better. Until it’s roughly finished, you won’t truly know what needs to be fixed.

Yes, you do the best work you can as you go along. But accept, deep down, that it will probably need more work when you’re “finished.” A writer finishes a rough draft. Then she finishes draft number two. And on it goes until she finally has to say, “It’s the best I can at this time in my life.” And let it go, either off to hopefully get published or into that proverbial drawer never to be looked at again.

Striving for near-perfection is good. Expecting perfection is not good, because in almost all cases, it’s impossible.