New here? Learn about my wellness project, a year-long wellness experiment.
When I had a full-time, executive job at a enterprise software company, my life was pretty boxed in and – in some ways – simpler that it is now. I had no extra-curricular activities and focused mainly on work, exercise, and (as much as possible) my family. Ironically, I even had more time to write this blog!
But I was missing several spokes in my wellness wheel.
I wasn’t singing. I wasn’t volunteering. I wasn’t having people over for dinner. I wasn’t practicing deep breathing. I wasn’t active in church. I wasn’t working toward a career in wellness, which is my passion.
Now that I am self-employed, I have made time in my life for all of these things. But now I feel that my days are almost out of control with all the different things I’m involved with:
- Taking a college class called “Personal and Community Health” at Luther College.
- Studying for the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Personal Trainer certification exam (scheduled for Oct).
- Studying to become a Health Coach at Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN).
- Active member of the school wellness committee.
- Involved in the Blue Zones Project for our community.
- Member of a couple of “business groups” related to wellness and coaching.
- Member of the Luther Gospel Choir.
- Member of the choir at my church.
- Doing music with the children at my church.
- Planning a music/theater class about St. Lucia at the local ArtHaus (starts in Oct).
- Managing two pro-bono websites.
- 2-3 personal website projects that ideally need to be completed by the end of the year.
- Contributor to two blogs outside of Simply Enough.
- Running a 5 K on September 22.
- Twice-weekly meetup with friends for social exercise.
- Various social get-togethers such as “Wine at 5” on Fridays.
- Swedish conversation group.
- Taking guitar lessons.
- Writing a book.
(Oh, and this doesn’t include keeping a home afloat and working with paying clients.)
The Need for Focus
These are all wonderful things to have going on and all things that I’ve been wanting to do for a really long time. But Leo Babauta, author of The Power of Less, would probably shake his head. Or maybe not. These are all things that make me happy and well. Things that get me out of bed in the morning.
I need to really hone my focusing skills to allow every minute of my day to focus on things that matter. Not mindless email checking, obsessive Facebook browsing, or other procrastination techniques.
This month is focus month.
I think focus is a key element in overall wellness, because it allows us to make time for wellness. And by focusing on the present, we also become less stressed and depressed. This is called mindfulness. I’m going to devote a whole month to mindfulness later this year.
The Plan for Focus Month
My resolutions for this month all relate to achieving more focus in my work and life.
Focus Resolution #1: Reread The Power of Less
I read Leo’s inspiring book several years ago while I was still working in the software industry. I loved it so much that I bought a copy for all of my direct reports. It’s already getting me excited about increasing my focus this month.
Focus Resolution #2: Check Email Twice a Day
I secretly started this resolution at the end of last month. Email was becoming so much of a distraction that I couldn’t wait for focus month! Here’s what I did:
- I added the following text to my email signature line: “P.S. Just so you know… I check email only once or twice per day. If you need a quick response, please call my cell (563.387.7663).”
- I set up an auto-responder with the title “My Email Experiment.” In this email (which should only be sent to each person once), I explain what I’m doing and that their email is important to me, but I may not read it right away.
- I became more diligent about unsubscribing to emails that I never read.
The best part? Within a couple of weeks of doing this, I have way less email in my inbox. People are calling or texting me for urgent matters, and I find myself using email primarily for its intended purpose.
I really enjoyed a recent Lifehack article called The Real Problem with Email. The author compares email to “snail mail.” The point being that you don’t sit and wait at your door all day for the mail to arrive. Email is just “electronic mail.” It should be treated in a similar manner. Check it and process it once or twice per day.
Focus Resolution #3: Practice Single-Tasking
Per my list above, I have a lot of things flowing through my head at any given time. I may be thinking up a revolutionary health promotion idea, contemplating changes to one of the websites I manage, or trying to figure out how to get a given client’s Facebook “likes” to increase.
This is not good for focus.
This month, I want to practice single-tasking. This is where I focus on the task at hand and nothing else. I don’t meander over to Facebook. I don’t send off a quick email. And I don’t pop over to my Google reader to see what’s new.
This is hard!
In my case, I’ve gotten into a really bad habit of checking Facebook or email when I am waiting for a webpage to load or just bored with the task at hand. Five minutes later I wake up from my mindless newsfeed scrolling, and I can’t even remember what I was doing.
This month, I will be very strict with myself as it relates to straying away from my task.
In order to keep all the wonderful thoughts I have, I’ll simply write them down as they come and worry about them later.
I could come up with more resolutions, but this post is already 1,000 words, and having more than three resolutions wouldn’t be very focused, would it?
Instead of focusing on how much you can accomplish, focus on how much you can absolutely love what you’re doing. ~Leo Babauta
Over to You!
What helps you focus?