Shortening attention spans and increasing demands on our time mean it can be a huge challenge to create the space, both mentally and physically, to allow your creative neurons to start to hold hands and dance. If you’re struggling to stay focused and let the good stuff flow here are a few tips and tricks I use to create space and get in the zone.
1. Turn off the internet
I repeat – turn off ze interwebs.
Shut down Facebook. Escape from your emails. Hide your phone down the back of the couch. Whatever you have to do, just get rid of any potential online distraction. Social media is an intermittent reward schedule making it SUPER addictive for the brain. Basically, scrolling through your Facebook feed creates the same reaction in your brain as a poker machine – it’s not a guaranteed ‘win’, but you scroll across a cute kitten, dancing baby or funny post from a friend often enough to keep you incessantly coming back for more. As much as technology is the problem here it can also be your saviour. Apps like Self Control (which blocks your access to distracting websites for a certain period of time) and Concentrate (which automatically closes certain programs when you’re doing certain predefined tasks) can be fantastic if you’re not great at the self-imposed social/email black out.
2. Lower the cone of silence
I may have watched too many Get Smart reruns as a kid, but whenever I need to focus and power-on with some creative juiciness I put myself ‘under the cone’. Get yourself into a distraction-free zone. Tell your colleagues, family, pet dog, Insta-followers that you need some time out; ask them to give you some space and put a time limit on it – block it out of your calendar, shut the door, put your headphones in and blast some fully-sick beats – whatever! Just take away the external distractions.
3. Decide to be there and set yourself a timeline.
Go to the bathroom, get your tea, or your snack, or whatever fuel you need to keep you going. Then sit down and stay there for the period of time you’ve decided on. Don’t make it too long – 25 – 40 minutes works for me; then get up and move around. Walk away, take a breath and let your mind stop for a moment. Then sit and repeat.
4. Open yourself up to a little help and guidance from the universe.
I always like to start with a breath and a little shout-out to my universal cheer squad. Simply asking for help and surrendering to the guidance that follows is an infinitely powerful force of inspiration and can help you channel and focus your creative energy.
What do you do to protect your time and space? Shout out any more tips and tricks in the comments below!