Science Of Writing Process: Getting Ready, Set Up Mood & Avoid Distractions


You’ve probably read the introduction already, but here we go again. Today we’ll talk about how to get ready to work. Actually it doesn’t matter if it’s about blogging, coding, designing, because in most cases we need to work alone and we want to be focused to do our job really well. Though this article has tips that almost anyone can use, freelancers may find it particularly valuable , because they don’t have to go to work from 9-5 each day.

Being able to pick and choose when you work and when you don’t is such a pleasure , but it also comes with a lot of time management issues, people get distracted and end up sitting at their computer all day but not actually doing anything. Why is that?

Well, there are too many things we could be doing instead! We can check our Facebook status, read what our friends are doing on Twitter, talk on Skype, browse through email and newsletters, read technology news – you name it! There are so many distractions, I didn’t even mention mobile phone, TV, newspapers, radio. If we want to work effectively we need to be focused and that’s what this article will be about.

Blogging Like A Pro Series Parts 1-10:

  1. Blogging Like A Pro: Introduction To 10-Part Crash Course
  2. Science Of Writing Process: Getting Ready, Set Up Mood & Avoid Distractions
  3. In Search For Ultimate Blogging Tools: Writing Simplified Now!
  4. How To Find Article Ideas To Write About, Write Sticking Points
  5. Do Your Research: How and where to find content
  6. Blog Post Formatting, make it easy to read and scan, good examples
  7. Power of headlines, Dummy’s guide to copywriting
  8. Add Spice To Post – Get Feedback, Entertain Readers With New Approach
  9. Taking Blogging To The Next Level: Guest Writers & Management & Scheduling, Proofreading
  10. How To Find And Hire The Right People For Your Business
  11. Set Up Your Blog & Make Use Of Fresh Tools To Save Time

At first you need to decide where you will work.

Work Environment

Pick an inspiring place to write. A place with good lighting or an outdoor cafe for example. An internet connection can be both helpful, however if you can get all the information you need beforehand and then just go somewhere without an internet connection it’s even better, no distractions at all. Full control of environment – beautiful.

Coffee Shop
This is more important then you can imagine – for a long time I was working in my bedroom. It’s not the most effective approach, just by looking at the bed thoughts about sleeping will be planted in your mind. Why this works? – well the same way as if somebody yawns, you’ll most likely yawn yourself. Even when you read word “yawning” – you may yawn or think about sleeping.

Work environment is important – if you’re an artist, it’s even better if your work room is clean and filled with paintings or artistic objects which may inspire you.

Put Yourself on a Diet

A low information diet that is. Radio, TV or breaking news will just distract you, not help you to stay focused. That’s the reason why I don’t even have a TV at my home, I rarely listen to the radio (whenever I hear an advertisement – I switch it off) and I don’t read local or global news. I keep myself on a low information diet. I just spend 30-60 min daily reading technology news, something that’s really important for my business. And the interesting part here is, I know about all the biggest events anyway, people I communicate or work with will occasionally tell me about any major news naturally. Great-I save time by not searching for major news, and still know about all the major events.
Enjoy your diet

This topic may seem out of the context, but the same applies to work – when you’re doing something, working on a problem – stay focused. If you’re searching for something on the internet just research your topic and don’t let yourself do anything else.  I’ve been there so many times – I start to research an article idea, but then I find cool unrelated website and start reading about it. After some time I remember I need to check an email, because well – this thought comes naturally in mind..and you got it – you are distracted and some time is wasted. Don’t let that happen to you. Too often.

Do Not Disturb: I am working

Make sure nobody can distract you. Switch off any messengers like Gtalk, Skype. Log off any social networks – Facebook, Twitter and most importantly don’t check email, these all are big distractions. You need to spend quality time on work. If you are very focused on your work, you’re likely to finish it earlier and now you can enjoy your well earned free time!

Many freelancers like to wake up very early or work late at night because then everybody else is silent and nothing else is really happening. Have you ever thought about why we have difficulty being productive during the rest of the day?

I’ve tried both ways – staying up late at night works very well but in the long term it messes up your health. If you can do it, a much better solution would be to wake up at dawn when everybody is still sleeping – who said it will be easy? As for me, I usually cannot wake up too early, that’s why I am trying out the low information diet and low communication diet. It works for me because I live alone, if you have family or children, then your only answer to be able to  focus on work would probably be an office or coffee shop.

Background Noise: choose what works for you

There are two choices – background noise or silence. There is no exact formula, but why do so many people prefer to have background noise like music or the TV? Well, it’s a lonely journey as a freelancer and we are used to living in a world where something is always happening. Humans are social beings and they usually need other people, we aren’t loners.

I was trying to understand for a long time, why in my first years of blogging, the best writing zone for me was when I worked on my laptop and had another computer were I put on a movie or TV show.  This combination was my most productive and yet I was sitting at home all the time.

But music, TV, movies, even being in coffee shop makes you feel like you’re not alone. You have background noise which helps because it doesn’t affect you. I mean if you work at home there’s always a chance somebody will call, talk to you or need you to do something. Music provides noise but doesn’t ask for anything back in return.

the audio technica pro700 sv dj monitor headphones

In a coffee shop – you’re in public, but everybody is busy with their own life, it’s an interesting way to enjoy society and get a lot of work done.

Quick Tip: Wherever you listen to music, just make sure it doesn’t require ongoing attention. Avoid YouTube, because once the song ends, you need to go back and search for a new song. So distracting.

I consider having background noise or seeking silence a ritual. Rituals can help you to get into your work zone, when nothing else matters.

Related note:If you’ve seen “The Social Network” the term “he’s wired” was used when talking about programmers who were working in a crowded space where everybody was drinking, but still seemingly isolated. That’s the power of being in a writing/coding/designing zone ( I am pretty sure this applies to any profession in some kind of way).

Setting the mood by reading about your topic

Whenever I feel discouraged or feel like I have writers block, I just start my work by doing a simple Google search on a particular topic. What that does is, it makes you think about what you read, look at different opinions and ways others express themselves. However I won’t suggest to overdo that, once your brain is working and your imagination and thoughts are starting to flow – just put them on paper (ah..just an expression)!

Actually I apply the same principle to daily life. When I wake up I workout, shower and then while eating my breakfast I read technology news, other design blogs to help me start thinking about work and about what I should do today and if there is a better way to do a particular job.


Work mode environment, circa 10.01.2010

I wished to write just about the writing/blogging process, but I realized the same principles apply in life and all other freelance workflow. There is no exact formula when the work is the most productive, which is better music or silence, and where you should work. In this article I wanted to help you start thinking about how you make things work and maybe how you can improve your workflow. Every one of us has our own ritual, stick to it if it’s working, change when needed, that’s my only suggestion in the end.

Note though, whenever you want to get work done you need to avoid distractions and be focused! No matter what you do, always try to stick to the plan, make corrections if needed, but don’t try to do everything at the same time. Unless you’re Superman you’re more than likely not going to succeed, there is no way around it.

Plan, do, review and improve.

Here are a few related articles I found:

Our Readers Feedback: How Do You Work?

Work Environment

I also asked to 1stwebdesigner readers on Twitter how they set up their mood and workflow, what works for them? I received a lot of responses and I am very grateful for them, thank you everybody!

So the question I asked was: “When is the most productive time for you to get work done? How do you set up your mood? Music, silence, TV – do you need any background noise to work?”

Here are the responses I received:

@davidwsshaw: “midday to night is most productive time. Always with music on, usually ambient/electro or alt/indie stuff. Aphex Twin, REM.”

@OhNenaPerez: “at night and with good music on, but not too loud :)”

@Tommy__Zoom: “Sometimes working amongst other people or borrowing desk space gets me in the working mood. Headphones in, notepad out.”

@smiggy: “I work best at night til the wee hours of the morning. With music on and a DVD playing :)”

@skyfenix: “I work better, faster and more creative at night. With TV noise as background even better.”

@HDEE804: “I think its the time of the night…when everyone’s sleeping, with earphones on…playing rock, & no 1 to disturb u.”

@HenerzDesigns: “Has to be with some music.. no question, although if I need to concentrate to fix an issue, I usually use silence to help.”

@leoraw: “8 am (after kids leave for school) + silence”

@kurtmx: “Nighttime is more productive for me, less distractions from the outside world. Some electro-jazz and lots of coffee!”

@davidwsshaw: “midday to night is most productive time. Always with music on, usually ambient/electro or alt/indie stuff. Aphex Twin, REM.”

@RobertiRivas: “4 me the most productive time is in the mornings,i listen music when the work’s easy but when i need 2 be focused i avoid it”

@pippinspages: “late at night and early in the morning. I have music playing 98% of the time”

@brimmingwith: “i.e. coffee shop = ok, office or home is not.”

@JasonAGross: “Music is always a must for me. Listening to different types of music will yield different design work for me as well.”

@jamespero: “Mornings, definitely. I listen to music, I have different playlists for different tasks as well.”

@mynameisfin: “about 7pm ’till 3am.. (re: most productive time)”

@elefant_me: “Use gtd/kanban to plan(get ready), listen to some music to get into the mood, turn off music and turn on pomodoro!” – I added also two links to explain what gtd, kanban and pomodoro is.

@CDGN: “star wars return of the jedi…. works like a charm” & “yep pretty much on constant loop for some reason it helps me to concentrate better.”

Responses from Facebook:

Andre Santos: “For me as webdeveloper, the best time is during the night, with music, great music, too many cigarettes and redbull.”

Sandra Auzina:  “I watch tv while designing, give me ideas all the time, for the rest – music”

Rod Rodriguez: “I work best after every one else is asleep, music always gets me in the mood. And as a designer, browsing for inspirations always gets me to where I want to go. As for background noise, it works both ways, sometimes I do OK in complete silence, other times I need my Rock n Roll!”

Benjamin A Bredeweg:  “yup, all-nighters. sadly true”.

Looks like almost everybody listens to music as a great companion to work with. Many people work at  late nights and early mornings, which seems to be the most productive time for them, midday isn’t the favorite pick! :)  I liked to see that several of you also mentioned TV, interesting how it actually provides some inspiration too.

Well, what about you? What helps you to get ready, be focused and work efficiently?



  1. Ecna

    I think having the TV on is more helpful because I feel like I’m not completely locked in with my own thoughts, but when I’m writing, I have it on mute. The visual is there in the periphery, but it’s not actually distracting.
    Staying up late is when I’m most productive and most creative, but it isn’t something sustainable anymore. When I was in school (especially on summer/winter vacation), I could stay up until 4 in the morning writing because I could sleep until noon the next day. But with a steady job, those kinds of hours just aren’t feasible. I guess I need to find whatever gets me so prolific in the wee hours of the morning and somehow replicate it at normal daylight hours.

  2. Hey this is a brilliant topic! I haven’t checked out 1WD in a long time but seriously you guys publish some of the best content around the web. kudos to you and your team of writers =]

  3. One workflow that really works with me is always have a background music, and concentrate on what I’m doing fully. As you said in the article above, it’s very easy when you are making a google research go to another website and starts reading something and gets lost about your real topic/purpose. So I try very hard to focus on what I’m doing, for example:
    When I’m writing an article, I turn off everything which can take my attetion, even the internet connection I switch it off. In this way my ideas can flow in a natural basis and later I make the needed adjustments on the article, something like a photo or putting a link, etc.

    This seems to be an awfully good series, I’m looking forward to the next articles/tips. See you then!

    • Cheers, thanks! Oh, you’re lucky if you can even switch of Internet connection..:) I usually don’t do it because a lot of articles require Internet research.

      Just finishing article about blogging editors you can write and start drafting your articles. See you!

  4. Michael Francis

    Good read! Focus is key. I myself get the most work done in silence during the night while my wife and children are sleeping. I’ve stayed up working until sunrise! It is the best time for me to concentrate, work without interruptions, and come up with new ideas!

  5. Lizette

    This is an excellent post!!! Very detailed and informative. I have started implementing some of these suggestions, but being blond it is hard to keep focused no matter what you do… :&