It has been a week of distractions. Distraction is part of life for the freelancer. It can be one of the pleasures of working from home – but also one of the pitfalls. If I said I was never distracted while writing, I’d be lying, and everyone would know that I’m lying.

But – I have a job to do, deadlines to meet and clients to work for, so faffing about is not an option. I am lucky to have a job I enjoy, so I am genuinely motivated, but sometimes I need a few simple tricks to help me avoid distractions. They won’t work for every writer, but they do for me. Here’s how I get from A to B without visiting the rest of the alphabet on the way.

I switch off WiFi

Otherwise, that evil time-sink, Facebook, will take over. Few people have the iron will and capability to ignore the wonders of the internet. Do what you need to do, then switch it off.

I get my ducks in a row

I gather everything I need together at the start of my working session, so I’m not sending myself off on unnecessary errands every few minutes. Charged laptop, mobile, scrap paper and pen, bucket of coffee, diary… All here ready for me. (I may have written this post simply so I can use this phrase…)

I have breaks

It’s the “little of what you fancy” theory. If I have one biscuit, I will stick to one biscuit. If I deny myself biscuits, I will fantasise about them until my craving reaches a critical level. I will hunt them out and eat every man jack of them. It’s the same with time out from work. Ten minutes of sanctioned cat-wrangling, Amazon shopping, pootling in the garden – clears the head marvellously for the next procrastination-free work session.

I try not to do any housework

Harder than it sounds. When you work from home, it is very easy to go “Ooh, a cobweb!” and head off down a path of merry domesticity. I diarise cleaning the same way as I do work projects, and try not to hop too much between paid work and housework – with the end goal that if I work very hard, I may be able to buy a vacuum cleaner that actually sucks. Or a team of Downton-style footmen.

I will move into the attic

This is true, not just a creative’s hissy fit. In January, my desk is moving into the roof. Away from the phone, Homes Under the Hammer, hungry cats, the tyranny of family and the background squealing of My Little Pony, I shall be free to type away happily, free from all diversions. It will also be a long climb down to the fridge, which will help in other ways. If my style becomes a little Byronic as I embrace my new role as Mad Writer in the Attic, I’m sure it’ll calm down after a while.

The serious point here is, if you can, remove yourself to a space away from the distractions.

If I really have to, I embrace distraction

It doesn’t necessarily get the job done, but an interesting distraction provides plenty of writing material to store up. This week’s distractions have included a runaway cow being corralled by the police in my (ordinary, domestic) garden for ten long hours. That was pretty distracting – but one day I’ll probably get some mileage from it. I guess distractions come in different categories: useless (daytime telly) and potentially useful (bovine escapees).

Blogging of course, does not count…