Attention management for writers: foreword

It’s been a year of working from home. For some writers – parents, mostly – it’s been a year of zero focus. But for others, it’s been a revelatory year. One that showed them what work looks like when they control their interruptions. When no one can walk up to their desk to ask a quick question, or drag them into a discussion that doesn’t actually require their input, or just have a loud conversation in their vicinity.

It’s been a year of really good, built-in noise cancelling headphones.

Because we all know that we should ignore Slack and our emails for long stretches of the day. We all know we should block portions of our calendars so no one can splinter our whole days with meetings. But in an office, that only gets you so far. It only helps you focus so long as everyone else is focused. Once they start moving, talking, asking questions, turning off your notifications doesn’t provide you with writing time. Just loud, off-Slack interactions.

And those are fun, actually. I miss them. I want to sit down and have a coffee with someone. But on the flip side, I really enjoy being able to work.

So I’m going to start a series of posts about attention management. About how I structure my days and my laptop to make the most of this silence. These will be short, single-action posts: one thing you can do each week to improve your focus and – with it – your writing.

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