Zen for Writers: Finding a Calm, Peaceful State For Your PC That Would Inspire Productivity

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pc productivity tipsWriting is one of the toughest jobs in the world. It’s lonely and you have to focus and think at the same time. Our brain, however, is constantly looking for new stimuli. It loves nothing more than entertaining random thoughts and shifting attention to attractive signals. That’s how you get distracted and side-tracked and this is what makes writing so hard.

Most professional writers have a routine and a matching workspace to get into the flow of writing. At MakeUseOf, you will find everything you need for a calm and peaceful PC setup that will help you become a productive writer. To save you time, I have compiled this ultimate resource guide to finding digital writer’s zen. Follow the 5 steps below, add a bit of patience, a grain of brilliance, a healthy dose of persistance, and writing will be just as hard, but it might flow much more easily.

1. Turn Off Noise & Notifications

Distraction is your worst enemy. A sure way to get distracted are random things popping up on your computer screen and capturing your attention. They need to be turned off. This either means shutting down the respective application or changing its settings so it won’t interrupt your work. Unless you need music to focus, turn off the sound altogether. Also don’t forget to turn off or mute any other devices in the same room with you: the TV, your phone, the tablet etc.

pc productivity tips

Not sure what notifications I’m talking about? See 5 Distracting [Windows] Desktop Notifications & How To Turn Them Off for details.

2. Block Online & Offline Distractions

Are you dying to check your email? Do you feel the pull of Facebook? Didn’t you need to tweet something? Giving in to these temptations can be a death sentence for your productivity. If you are an easy victim of the internet, block the internet or at least the most distracting websites for a period of time during which you want to write.

pc productivity

My personal favorite right is Blockr, a Chrome add-on that blocks internet access until you meet your self proclaimed writing goals. Similar tools that we have profiled on our Directory are StayFocusd, Cold Turkey, FocalFilter, and KeepMeOut. Aaron has looked at StayFocusd in more detail.

Offline distractions typically are clutter in your surrounding, including your physical and your virtual desktop. It only takes 7 Simple Steps To An Awesome Minimalist Windows Desktop or 5 Great Tips and Tools For a Clean and Minimalist Mac Desktop. But rather than wasting time with cleaning up your desktop, you should simply…

3. Use a Simple Writing Tool

While you are writing, there is no need to format the text. Picking fonts and colors and header formats is just a way to procrastinate, kill time, and yet feel busy. Stop yourself and choose an application that won’t let you do stuff like that.

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pc productivity

My personal favorite is OmmWriter, which is available for Mac and Windows. If this particular software is not your cup of tea, don’t despair, there are dozens more. Below is a selection recommended by MakeUseOf authors. Please make it a point to pick one quickly and stick with it.

The three points above are also reflected in my article 3 Ways To Stop Multitasking & Stay Focused To Be More Efficient & Productive.

4. Take Care of Your Body

Writing requires your mind and, as the Roman poet Juvenal recognized, a sound mind resides within a healthy body. In other words, sleep well, eat well, drink lots of water, and breathe. Drink water to stay juicy and get a quick run to the toilet every hour. Take breaks to stretch, open the window and breathe deeply, do a quick exercise and get the blood flowing. This will pump fresh oxygen into your brain. When you feel mentally exhausted and if fresh air just makes you tired, take a short nap to refresh your brain.

pc productivity

When you have to work long hours at the computer, your eyes will tire. Technology can help reduce eye strain, so you can be productive for longer stretches of time. Have a look at the following tools:

5. Cures for Writer’s Block

So your computer is so perfectly calm and peaceful that your mind is completely blank. Congratulations, you have successfully been meditating! Sadly, this is really bad when you need to get thoughts down on paper. The condition is also known as writer’s block.

pc productivity tips

For a chance to find inspiration, you actually have to stimulate your brain and let your thoughts flow freely. If a brief (!) break, a short (!) nap or a glass of water don’t help and if you are regularly suffering from writer’s block, develop a routine to deal with it.

One proven method to overcome writer’s block are freewriting exercises. You simply write down anything that comes to your mind for a set amount of time. For support, try one of these 5 Websites for Freewriting Exercises. A similar technique are Writing Prompts. The difference is that you are asked to reflect on a question in writing. Try one of these 10 Websites for Writing Prompts exercises.

As mentioned above, writing is tough because it’s lonely. What can help is to compare yourself with others and enter in a fun competition. This is where 750 Words comes in. A distraction free online writing space on the one hand, it encourages you to set a goal and write at least 750 words a day, complete challenges, compare yourself with other writers using the service, and earn recognition. See How To Inspire Yourself To Write At Least 750 Words Per Day.


I can only repeat what I said in the beginning: writing is hard work. To be an inspired and productive writer takes not only talent, but most of all a lot of discipline and patience. While routine can get you very far as a writer, don’t expect writing to become easy at any point. And once you find yourself procrastinating and not being productive again, which you will, don’t beat yourself up. Every writer goes through these valleys. Some even write articles about it, for example Joshua, who revealed How This MakeUseOf Writer Procrastinates In 8 Easy Steps.

What are your worst distractions and how do you get into the writing zone?

Image credits: Mouse Ying and Yang via Shutterstock, Time to Focus via Shutterstock, Distracted Boys via Shutterstock, Girl with Pencil via Shutterstock, Yoga Hand via Shutterstock, Woman Throwing Waste Paper via Shutterstock

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Comments (11)
  • Gary Mundy

    What distracts me usually has little to do with the computer ;)

  • Harish Jonnalagadda

    Thanks so much. Just getting into writing, very useful advise.

  • Cheryl De Pace

    Here at the National Academy of Sciences, we do work very hard to write well. Our goal is nothing short of perfection. Unless you engage in this type of work, it is difficult to understand just how daunting this can be. It may surprise you to know that this article was soothing for me. I work on a team and we have a discussion along the same vein as this article with a bit of venting that is better left at the coffee machine.
    Thank you for writing it.

    • Tina

      Thank you very much for your feedback, Cheryl. I’m very happy you enjoyed my article!

      Do you experience writer’s block in scientific writing?

  • Lisa Santika Onggrid

    Here is my current method: Boot into Puppy so I get clean slate, with no application I might check and notifications I should be aware of. Then keep my modem as far as possible.
    Once I’m finished, mount my windows partition to save the writings.

  • Adrian Rea

    when writing long or short pieces, notepad is fine for me at first. the idea is to get down the bones as quickly and not fuss about the font etc. Realtime spelling and grammar checkers just make me bunny hop back and forth losing my concentration. What I do do though is to add *** at places I want to come back to to revise my text as it makes searching much quicker.

    • Tina


      adding a space holder for when you do not know the perfect word or phrase is a great point. This can cost so much time when you get stuck, but when you come back to it later, it may just take you a few seconds until the right words fall into place. Sometimes you just have to let go and re-visit. :)

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.