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Blog Exercises: Self-Control and Distractions

Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress.During a recent WordPress Meetup in Portland, Oregon, I was on the panel of three WordPress experts answering questions from the audience on how to use WordPress. In response to one of the questions dealing with a recommendation that WordPress restrict what a user can and cannot do to protect themselves from doing something “stupid,” Robert Hughes of Clark College tweeted my response:

My full response was:

When you take serious action on your WordPress site, WordPress asks, “Do you want to do this?” as is appropriate to that feature. “Do you want to permanently delete this image?” “Do you wish to permanently delete this post?” Do you want them to add a Windows-like second chance, “Are you sure?”

WordPress will probably get to the place where they will protect us from ourselves. Meanwhile, we’re on our own.

In an NPR story, “Apps Block Social Media Because Users Can’t Stop Themselves” on All Tech Considered, they discuss mobile apps designed to protect you from yourself when it comes to social media.

Stutzman says that social media sites like Twitter and Facebook are highly distracting because they appeal to people’s need for interaction in an effective way — he calls them “distractions on steroids.”

These anti-distraction efforts may sound extreme, but the time users are spending on social media is climbing. In 2011, found that Americans spent almost 1 in every 5 minutes online on social media sites — by last year, that had climbed to 1 in every 4.3 minutes.

Steve Lambert, the founder of SelfControl, says that the real value of anti-distraction apps is their ability to make users more aware of their own behavior. “There’s being distracted and knowing you’re being distracted, and then being distracted and not even realizing it,” he says.

After using the app and seeing how many times he unwittingly tried to go onto a blocked Web address, Lambert became more aware of his own work patterns. He no longer relies on SelfControl to be productive on his computer.

I love living in a world where technology is finally helpful. Apps that teach us to be more aware of how easily we are distracted by time-wasting tasks on the web help us focus our energies in the right place, as well as protect us from doing something dumb because we aren’t paying attention.


When did we need apps and programs to help us with our self-control? The Internet and computer technology is supposed to make our life easier, healthier. What happened to us that we need such tools to protect us from ourselves?

It’s all about the details and our ability to pay attention to them as well as not let the details get in our way. It’s about finding the balance between what matters and what doesn’t, and making the smart choice.

Blog Exercise Task from Lorelle on WordPress.It’s time to put your self-control back in gear.

Your blog exercise today is to re-evaluate the distractions in your life and come up with a plan to deal with them. The better your awareness of the time wasters, the better your control and focus on your site.

Infographic on Writers Block.

Katrina Joy Plam published this wonderful infographic on writer’s block called “Why I’m Not Getting Any Writing Done on My So-Called Novel.” It is a perfect example of the many distractions that get in our way when we blog.

Early in these Blog Exercises I asked you to define what you talked about on your blog, helping you to find your blog focus, purpose, and identity, which we revisited a few months later to see how you were doing, and we will revisit it again in these exercises. By clearly identifying your site’s purpose, it helps you to stay on track and not run off on tangents as you blog.

We also talked about working with an editorial calendar and scheduling blogging time to keep you on track, making appointments with yourself to fit content creation into your date book. I also recommended you take yourself on a bloggy vacation to keep your perspective and enthusiasm healthy.

There are many things that distract us as we go through work and life, especially when it comes to maintaining your site. There are things that distract, but there are also people who distract, sucking away your time as well as your energy and enthusiasm. At the same WordPress meeting, a fellow WordPress fan admitted that they were crushed when they got the response “you suck” in their overwhelmingly positive reviews. When all your energy goes into one naysayer, you lose focus and courage, letting self-doubt become a distraction. Don’t forget that we also talked about what your blog would be like if you knew you could not fail.

You aren’t alone in this exercise. I have my own constant struggle to stay on track and focused. In a perfect example of self-sabotage writing, I have to admit that I worked on four posts while writing this one because of the distractions inside and outside my head. I fear that one or more of those posts will have spelling and grammar errors because I didn’t give them my full attention.

It’s your time to identify what’s getting in the way of your own self-control. How do you stop yourself from doing something stupid? How can you change how you work so you will give all your attention to what you are doing, stay on track, and protect yourself from yourself?

Remember to include a hat tip link back to this post to create a trackback, or leave a properly formed link in the comments so participants can check out your blog exercise task.

You can find more Blog Exercises on . This is a year-long challenge to help you flex your blogging muscles.

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen.


  1. Posted August 5, 2013 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    So true. So true.

    Right along these lines, I once wrote an article about my need for the huge white board that used to accompany me in any office I ever worked in. I hadn’t realized my reliance on this item and how it helped me navigate thru my own mental distractions. Anyway, in the post, I presented this very simple cryptic diagram that bears some resemblance to the one you showed. Here’s a link to the photo only (not the whole post).

    Picture notations like this spread across a 6 foot x 3 foot whiteboard (the largest one I successfully acquired on my most demanding job) and you’ll get a feel for how distraction-challenged I am!! LOL

    • Posted August 5, 2013 at 2:43 pm | Permalink


      We all learn different ways and it is important to honor those “input methods,” as one teacher described them.

      I love your distraction art. I’m going to “hot link” to it in the comment as it is perfect for this!!!

  2. Posted August 5, 2013 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Katrina’s graphic surely describes moments that writers experience and is hilarious!
    Thank you,

  3. Posted August 7, 2013 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    This morning, I was ruthless. I deleted all re-blogged posts. I deleted some posts. I deleted about 20 posts in total. I removed ‘WordPress’ related tips and sent the traffic back to WordPress Support. I recorded what I deleted in this old post My Site Table of Contents – I did it! My main Table of Contents is much cleaner now. I wish I could do the same with my kitchen cupboard and wardrobe.

    If I keep doing this, I won’t have many posts left.

    Thank you! Self-discipline and focus are good life skills to have. Now can you help me with my kitchen cupboard?

    • Posted August 7, 2013 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

      Wow! I’m stunned. that’s amazing. How does it feel?

      Hey, you do my kitchen cupboard first! Then you got a deal.

  4. Posted August 8, 2013 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    I felt great and deleted 5 more posts. More (in categories) could go, but as I only keep one blog, they’ll all stay for now.

    I still keep some unsatisfactory posts there — to edit them later.

    Looking back old posts is very strange, and can be embarrassing. Actually, I think bloggers are encouraged to blog regularly, “Postaday”, “Postaweek” and we get prompts all day (some prompts are very silly. Today’s prompt is ‘yawn’, thank you, WordPress) and many people write, share, without a plan. We blog because we exist. “I don’t take myself too seriously. I just write.” You hear people saying this.

    We treat it like an online diary – not a lot of structures or polishing, and we enjoy our online presence to stay connected with our blogger friends. That network of friendship is very precious.

    Your approach is different. It’s more strategic and it’s about doing thing right. It’s about quality. I like that.

    • Posted August 8, 2013 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      Good for you. Keep going. It’s cleansing.

      Thank you. I totally agree. If you want to be professional, act professional. That’s the only way to do it.

6 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] Blog Exercises: Self-Control and Distractions « Lorelle on WordPress. […]

  2. […] I have agonised over the psychological reasons as to why I blog, pondered how to stay focused with more self-control, and more importantly, tried to discover my view of the world through my filtered lens. It’s […]

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