I don’t know about you, but I’m easily distracted. Maybe it’s my Piscean nature — symbolized by two fishes swimming in opposite directions — but staying focused and on track isn’t always easy for me, even when I have a goal. So I’ve started asking myself this one simple question throughout the day:
“Is what I’m doing now getting me closer to where I want to be tomorrow?”
Since I’ve started asking myself this, I’ve found it has five benefits:
It anchors me: This question appeals to me because it’s a simple touchstone I can return to again and again to be sure that I’m not losing sight of what I want to accomplish. It anchors me so that my time and energy don’t drift away.
It calms me: Just keeping this question in mind is calming and centering. I feel better because I know that I have a simple tool at my command to help me get the most from my day. It’s an antidote to distraction.
It orients me: Asking this keeps me rooted in the present — it invites me to look at what I’m doing in the moment — right now — and see if it’s the most purposeful activity I can be engaged. It’s aimed at the future, but anchored in the present.
It focuses me: I’ve jotted this question down on a 3×5 colored index card and I keep it by my desk so I can see it easily. It’s a quick reminder to gather myself and concentrate on whatever task I’ve decided I need to being doing to move my YA novel forward.
It motivates me: If I do find myself off track for whatever reason, this question helps fire me up with renewed purpose. It announces to me that I have a job to do and my job is to do it. No dilly-dallying. No excuses. Just get going!
So often, we find ourselves sidetracked for an hour or two or a whole day. An errand takes longer than expected or a problem crops up. When this happens, it’s easy to feel that our rhythm’s been disrupted and our writing has suffered. But for most of us, I believe it’s the little distractions that nibble away at our writing time and make us feel unproductive. Asking yourself, “Is what I’m doing now getting me closer to where I want to be tomorrow?” can help you stay happily on track and fulfilled. Write on.