Random Thoughts: Staying Focused

As bloggers it’s so very easy to get distracted from reading, reviewing and even blogging. I know, because I find myself getting distracted. All. The. Time. And while I don’t speak for all bloggers, or even any bloggers other than myself, I can’t imagine I’m the only one.

Just trying to keep up with the wealth of information that moves across our screens on Twitter is enough to distract us for hours a day. Checking our Facebook timelines for updates from publishers and authors or seeing what others in the blogosphere are talking about so that we don’t miss out on the latest and greatest can completely shift our focus away from the very reason we’re here in the first place – to read books and talk about them on our blogs.

And it’s just so easy to get caught up in the latest drama or get bogged down by the need to “keep up with the Jones’s.”

While some of this time is required – if, that is, you want your blog to have fresh content, be informative and up-to-date on all that is happening in the world of books and book blogging – and some of this time is needed – we can’t be reading and reviewing all the time – much of it is time better spent staying focused.

But it’s just so hard, isn’t it?

If we have very specific goals set for our blogs, then networking may be a very important part of what we do. But time spent reaching out to other bloggers, authors and publishers to develop relationships is very different than time spent griping about, oh… let’s say, movies on Twitter.

And while learning how we can improve our blogs by studying more established and/or successful ones than ours can be time well spent, any time spent as we try to swallow those sour grapes about someone who has achieved greater success than we have isn’t. And neither is time spent lamenting, “why not me.”

For those of us who are planners or are extremely organized, staying focused shouldn’t be as big of an issue. We have a plan. We stick to it. We get the job done. And even if we are distracted for a day or two… or more… we can easily get back on plan and refocus.

But for those of us who aren’t planners, who don’t think beyond our next post, getting distracted can be extremely detrimental. And once we’re distracted it can be even harder to get our focus back where it should be if we want to develop a “successful” blog.

While there is no set way to stay focused, keeping in mind our goals can be the best motivation to do so. Or if we haven’t set any goals, then perhaps coming up with a few can help us gain focus.

If our goal is to increase our follow count, then thinking up new ways to get followers – a new feature, hosting a giveaway, participating in a meme – might be a way to keep us on track. If our goal is to get more traffic to our site, then learning how SEO works or learning ways to market our blogs, could help keep us laser focused on our goals.

But if our goals are simply to enjoy what we’re doing, however we do it, and to make friends with other readers, bloggers and authors, then being distracted is probably the best way to achieve that goal. Because there’s no better way to make those friends than to be social and to be up-to-date on all the exciting news in the bookish community.

No matter what our ultimate goals are, if we want to be seen as consistent bloggers we have to – at least some of the time – have focus. We can’t be a book review blog if we don’t read and review books. We can’t be a promotional book blog if we don’t keep up with the latest news about books and promote those books on our blogs. We can’t be a giveaway book blog if we don’t offer up books for giveaway. And we can’t be seen as established book bloggers if we don’t consistently post on our blogs and keep at it for the duration.

Without focus our blogs won’t have a clear direction. They might not find their target audience. They might not develop an audience at all. Or they might lose the one they developed during those days when we were focused. And they might never grow to the level we want them to because we just can’t find our focus.

Blogging is work. As much of a hobby as it is because a majority of us don’t earn income from our blogs, it certainly doesn’t feel like a hobby. So distractions are often welcome from the thought, research, writing, editing, formatting, networking, marketing that we must do on a daily basis. But when those distractions take up more time than we spend on bettering our blogs, we may need to take a step back, gain some perspective and recommit ourselves to blogging.

Because if our problem has moved from simply staying focused to having lost focus all together, we may just need to take a day or two to step away from the social and give our blogs a little TLC.

As someone who isn’t a planner as far as my blog is concerned and who is easily distracted by whatever shines the brightest, I struggle with focus on a daily, and sometimes hourly, basis. But is it just me? Do you have a hard time remaining on track with so many fun distractions all around? Is Twitter more enemy than friend?

And what do you do to get yourself back on track? Or haven’t you figured that out quite yet?

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