I love writing. I really do. But, I find my writing time is often interrupted by my need to do unnecessary research and check my email multiple times a day. Not to mention the large number of phone calls, messages, and app notifications I receive during my scheduled writing time.

I know checking my email every twenty to thirty minutes isn’t healthy. Neither is Googling every question that pops into my head.

“What is the capital of Rhode Island?”

“When is the best time to schedule a book launch?”

“What is another word for obsessive?”

I know spending too much time doing research and checking email is an issue for me and each day I promise myself I won’t allow my fact-finding expeditions and my desire to see if someone wants to make a movie out of my last novel (I wish) to slow down the progress I am making on my current project.

And each day I let myself down.

Even if the questions that pop into my head are relevant to my novel, putting an end to the writing flow to go find the answer is insane! I know I should just make a note of the pesky interruptions and move on.

But I don’t.

I dive into the research. I open a web browser and Google whatever is on my mind.

That search leads to another. And another. Which then leads to checking email, Twitter, and Facebook. Until I’m no longer writing. I’m no longer a writer. I’m a researcher, a procrastinator, a digital junkie! Just yesterday, I opened Netflix so I could play an episode of Arrow and prove to my son that Laurel Lance had dark hair in season one, as opposed to the blond hair she has in season four.

Why? Because I could.

So, what do I do? How do I get rid of all these distractions and concentrate on my writing?

Ironically, with a little help from my smartphone. Here are two things I do to stay focused:

  1. I activate the Do Not Disturb feature so all phone calls, messages, and notifications are silenced. I don’t have to worry about missing calls or messages from important people, like my family and a few close friends, since I can add them as exceptions.
  2. I use an app called AppDetox (a very appropriate name) to place limits on the apps I just can’t seem to stay away from – email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. All I have to do is decide what kind of limit I want to place on each app. Among the options are: setting times of the day when I’m not allowed to access the app; limiting the number of times I can launch the app each day; or setting a time limit for using the app.

If I try to access an app when I should be working, I will get a cute message like, “No dose of LinkedIn for you!” or “You shall not pass to Email.”

Because I will have to do some research during the day, I have limited the number of times I can open Google Chrome to five. This has effectively cut down the amount of time I spend on frivolous web surfing.

So far, these two little tricks are helping me stay focused on my writing. If I can stick with it, I should have my third book completed by the end of the year.

Which raises a question – Is there an app that will do the writing for me? Excuse me while I go Google that.