Canceling Out the Distractions

My new favorite thing is noise canceling headphones.  I've had a pair for years but lately I've been using them to write.  Game changer!

I'm generally very focused once I get into a focusing zone.  However, everything about my brain requires long stretches of start up/shut down.  It takes me at least an hour to fully wake up in the morning (and that's with coffee) and when I go to sleep it's a several hour long process.  The same goes for focusing.  I can work for long stretches of time but calming down enough to actually get into the focusing zone can require some work.

So I took the advice of a friend and tried headphones with music.  I made myself a playlist of classic music--no words!  It took some getting used to.  I'm a musician so my first instinct when I hear music is to focus on it.  But I kept the volume turned down low and I made a point of having the music on only when I'm writing.  If I turned away to look at my phone or check my email, I paused the music.

Basically, I Pavlovian dog trained myself.

It's been hugely successful for me though.  The noise canceling headphones helped to cut down on the number of extraneous sounds I heard that could prove to be a distraction.  While I'm not necessarily writing any more per day, I am using my time more efficiently.  Once I sit down the music helps to put me in an "instant focus zone."  I now spend less time putzing around online trying to get myself into the proper frame of mind.

Next step: increase word counts!


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