Productivity in a World of Distractions


Technology has had an incredible impact on creativity. The number of people on YouTube who create mind-blowing content is remarkable. The blogs, the podcasts, the photography/art portfolios, ebooks… the list goes on and on and on.

Technology has done achieved so much in the world of creativity, but it comes with a lot of distractions.

When I sit down to work on a piece of creative writing, create content this website, write and edit work for my MA course, I have all the tools I need at my disposal. I also have, however, a lot of distractions.

Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, WordPress, the news… there are so many things that take up time in my life. Instead of writing this post in, let’s say, an hour, it could take twice that, or longer, if I have a news article that catches my eye or I want to refresh my Twitter feed before writing another paragraph.

There comes a point when I do more scrolling than I do creating, and that’s where the problem lies. These sites are full of catchy titles that encourage you to click, and algorithms that make you want to keep scrolling. This is the death of creativity.

Technology is a double-edged sword, but there are ways of enjoying both sides without being constantly distracted.

Write Lists

Lists are amazing. In the morning, I write a short list of things I want to achieve that day. I set out achievable goals and then I stick to them.

When a checkpoint is reached, I can watch that YouTube video that I saw earlier, or read that news article.

Then I go back to work and complete the next checkpoint.

Setting out goals is a great way of managing your time effectively, as just as there is something addictive about scrolling through Instagram, there is something equally addictive about ticking goals off a list.

Carefully Choose Your Distractions

There are so many things thrown our way that make it hard to focus on the content we want to see. There is a way of choosing what you see though.

On Twitter, I make lists. I have lists of writers I like, news outlets I follow, blogs and bloggers I want to see updates from – I have around 5 lists. Twitter lists are a great way of not getting bogged down in an impossibly long feed and instead picking the people and topics you want to see.

On Instagram I only follow people I want to see posts from. There are so many individuals on Instagram, but no way of creating lists like with Twitter, so you have to choose carefully. Be purposeful in the accounts you choose to follow.

YouTube has the “watch-later” option that I love. It means that if I see a video I want to see but I have to so some work first, I add it to my watch-later list so I don’t forget about it, and can find it easily later. I also realise sometimes that some videos I add to that list I end up deleting later without ever watching them – it’s like a filter.

Turn off Notifications

There is a constant stream of likes and follows and comments on social media. Turn your notifications off on your phone, tablet, and computer. Choose when you want to see those notifications by opening the apps and sites when you have the time. You’ll be amazed by the amount of time you save when your phone isn’t buzzing as you work.

I get so much more done now that I have given myself control over the distractions of technology. They do not dictate my life. I use social media when I want to, with purpose, because I adhere to the structure I have outlined in this post.

I realise that two of the points in this blog post are essentially about lists – lists are great! I will never stop talking about them, and they will never stop being useful.

Be purposeful in the distractions you choose to consume. You will be amazed at how much more you can achieve when you decide what to do, rather than being bogged down by the algorithms of companies that don’t care what you achieve.

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2 comments on “Productivity in a World of Distractions”

  1. I am here because my list is done for today. This is my reward. To read what others have written. Over time, I have learned to use each of the hints that you shared.
    The only time they do not work is when I don’t do them.
    Thanks for visiting my blog as well.

    1. Thank you for spending some of your precious time on my content – I’m glad the productivity tips I mentioned work for you 🙂 Lists Lists Lists!!!

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