I believe that people who focus on one thing and do it extremely well are often the most successful—and content. Problems surface when too many ideas and interests turn into too many projects, which dilute our ability fully to focus on the thing that matters most. (Unless you’re a genius.)
I suffer from the too-many-ideas syndrome. Not only do I have to say no to others (which I do on a weekly basis), but I also have to say no to new ideas in my head—and bring my focus back to that which is most important.
Currently, the thing that is most important (aside from being a decent mother and wife and contributing at my day job, of course) is writing a book. For a while, it was one of many most important things. However, I recently realized that I won’t be able to finish this book and do it well unless I apply a hefty amount of laser focus to this project.
Laser Focus Means Dropping Things
So once again, I am forced to look at my commitments and determine what I can drop. After much discernment, I have decided that for the remainder of the year, the only commitments I will retain are the following:
- Teaching Swedish (2 hrs./week)
- Individual Coaching (2-3 hrs./week)
- Writing at Simply Enough (1-2 hrs./week)
- Managing Good Shepherd Decorah (2-4 hrs./month)
- Managing Decorah Holistic Health (2-4 hrs./month)
While this is still significant, I am also taking steps to minimize the time I spend on these (especially the websites). For example, I have recruited a partner to help with the Decorah Holistic Health newsletter. I am also planning to train other members of the communications committee at the church so they can perform simple tasks such as adding blog posts and images.
Delegation is a powerful time-saving strategy. (Tweet this!)
Laser Focus Means Daily Attention
I am making progress on my book by getting up at 5 am every morning (or ideally 4:45 am for a few minutes of meditation) and writing with laser focus for one hour. I am also setting aside longer blocks of time, such as my writing weekend.
The key is to work on your most important thing every day—no exceptions.
Laser Focus Means Not Doing It All
However, I continue to think about how I might become even more focused—like my husband, whose life revolves around being a college professor. He has a laser sharp focus, which allows him to crank out articles, presentations, and even books while teaching full time. Makes me think of the following quote:
“We’re so caught up in trying to do everything, experience all the essential things, not miss out on anything important…We can’t read all the good books, watch all the good films, go to all the best cities in the world, try all the best restaurants, meet all the great people…Life is better when we don’t try to do everything. Learn to enjoy the slice of life you experience, and life turns out to be wonderful.”
― Leo Babauta
I’ve always had a “problem” with being interested in too many different topics and getting involved in too many things. That’s why it was so hard for me to pick a major in college. Of course, now I know the major doesn’t really matter. It’s the learning processes and the ability to focus.
Perhaps it’s OK to have varied interests, as long as it doesn’t become overwhelming. However, I also know that certain professions, such as being a writer, require a good amount of time—which doesn’t leave much time for other activities:
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”
― Stephen King, On Writing
I have hope that if I continue to whittle down my commitment list, work on the most important thing daily, and say no, eventually I will find the balance that we all strive for.
But most importantly, I will be present in each moment and not fret about the next thing on my calendar or todo list.
Because that is the only way to live well—with laser focus.