Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Motivational Speaker

9 Ways to Finding Focus

Filed under: Motivation — by at 12:22 am on Friday, November 14, 2008

At the opening of 2008, I chose FOCUS as my one word for the year

To me, FOCUS entails minimizing my technologically-induced ADHD, de-cluttering and simplifying my surroundings, multi-tasking only when appropriate – tasks requiring my full attention will receive it. With FOCUS, I feel I can accomplish more of why I was put on this earth, and that will create inner peace because I’m doing what I’m meant to do. In turn, that will create a variety of wealth. I’m sensing FOCUS will be quite a powerful mantra for 2008.

I confess that I spent much of the year faltering and beating up myself for not focusing. I didn’t know why I had the attention span of a two-year-old. Occasionally I would find my groove, only to falter again. Telling myself to sit down and focus didn’t cut it for me.

With 2008 nearing the end, I think I have finally figured it out! It’s not about imagining my Mom saying "Now, sit down and get to work" like she would instruct her Grade One students. It’s not about repeating FOCUS a million times in my head.

For me, being able to focus means setting up the right environment, externally and internally, so that I can focus. This means: 

  1. Having the right tools for the job! This sounds so simple, yet this has made an unbelievably huge difference for me. Instructional posts were taking me hours to create, with minimal reward. Similarly, for the Do It Myself Blog, I was writing the posts in Microsoft Word and then hand-coding in WordPress, which meant I wasn’t  writing as many spontaneous posts as I would have liked. Since discovering SnagIt and then Windows Live Writer, blogging has become fun again and I am able to write an entire post before my attention span and patience expires. Even my new wide screen monitor has meant I can have two applications open side-by-side, which saves flipping back and forth. Screen shot of my blog and Windows Live Writer open side-by-side
  2. Turning off noise. I have discovered that, even though I receive close to 100 emails per day (most of which are spam), only a few of them are addressed to me personally and even less require an immediate, if any, response. Although it is a tough habit to break (one I’m still working on ), I do not need to check my email constantly. I can close Outlook and know that the world will continue without me for a few hours.
  3. Limiting networking tools. Even though it is easy to get distracted by shiny new objects, I have resisted the temptation of Plurk, and countless others. Rather, I have purposefully chosen to stick with Twitter and StumbeUpon, and, to a lesser extent, Facebook and Linkedln. This summer’s online course helped me to master StumbleUpon and to use it more effectively. I would like to find a similar course for Linkedln. Finding ways integrate these tools, such as feeding my Twitter tweets and my blog posts into my Facebook page allows me to streamline my networking.
  4. Working on one task at a time. Contrary to popular belief, multi-tasking does not work or, at least, it doesn’t work for me. I am finding working on one task at a time, either until the task or a particular step is finished or for a specific amount of time, is more effective and allows me to focus all of my attention and energy on the one task on hand.
  5. Glenda's completely organized bookcase and areaDe-cluttering my space. For the last two Saturdays, I have been purging and organizing my office. It has been so liberating. Seeing the organized bookcase with space to spare gives me an energy boost and feels like a weight has been lifted; a weight that no longer requires my attention and focus, freeing them up for other more important things. I plan on continuing this office makeover, one step at a a time, one Saturday at a time.
  6. Prioritizing what is most important and committing time to doing it. Right now, I have 510 unread emails and 1080 items in my Inbox alone. One day getting my Inbox back down to 0 yet again will be a priority and I will set aside to do it. For now, the number of emails in my Inbox or zombie invitations in Facebook is not important. For now, for today, I am going to focus on what is most important.
  7. Taking a break away from my computer.  Spending time away from my computer doing something physical, whether its exercising, washing the dishes, organizing my office (with my monitor turned off!) or getting out of the house, enables me to return refreshed and re-energized and able to concentrate on one task until it is completed.
  8. Allowing empty space in time. Like the empty space on my bookcase, I have realized it is okay to have empty space in time to think. When I am writing and am unsure of the next word, the next sentence, the next thought, it is okay to stop and to listen for that voice that guides my writing, rather than filling that void with distractions from email or Twitter. Stopping to be still, to wait and to listen is perfectly okay.
  9. Not being too busy. In September’s O Magazine (p. 166-7), Norman Fischer shares: "Being too busy or not being busy is an interpretation of our activity. Busyness is a state of mind, not a fact. No matter how much or how little we’re doing, we’re always just doing what we’re doing, simply living this one moment of our lives." When too busy or overwhelmed, stop and connect, in Zen Buddhist tradition, with "the one who is not too busy".
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Comment by Suzie Cheel

November 14, 2008 @ 12:42 am

This is awesome Glenda, seems like we have been on the same path this year and i feel I am finally moving forward and you are too

So much clarity here

Thanks for writing


Comment by Joanna Young

November 14, 2008 @ 2:34 am

Thanks for such an honest assessment Glenda. I think the time we spent online makes it very, very hard to focus.

That being said, some tasks work well for me on a multi-tasking basis. I find I can edit things and then tweet in bursts for example. It actually helps me to stick with the task, because otherwise I’d get bored with it.

Do you know what your word for 2009 will be?

Comment by Avril

November 14, 2008 @ 8:11 am

Glenda, this post is so very to-the-point in our increasingly busy and cluttered lives! I too find myself terribly distracted, and am always exhorting myself to Pay Attention and Focus. I’m going to print out your 9 points and hang them on the wall in front of my desk, to remind myself. And now I’m going to step away from my computer and do something else! 😉

Comment by Robert Hruzek

November 14, 2008 @ 11:16 am

Wonderful roundup of decluttering techniques, suitable for anyone, anywhere. Thanks for sharing your personal journey with us, Glenda! Your courage inspires me!

Comment by Karen Putz

November 14, 2008 @ 4:36 pm

For me? Why thank you! Great tips here– I especially like how you split your screen– is that with Windows Live Writer?

Comment by Cyndi in BC

November 14, 2008 @ 9:59 pm

Great post, Glenda! I’ll have to check out your links tomorrow though, it’s time to relax with my knitting right now. 🙂

Comment by Alex- The Blog Traffic Guy

November 17, 2008 @ 9:28 am

First time to your blog. I’m really inspired by your courage. It was huge compare to mine.

Thanks for the focus tips. Those are great tips and I find that limiting or closing off networking tool is one of the tips that benefited me the most. It has increased my productivity more than 5 times. when I first switch off my msn for few hours, I am able to focus my work and bring my blog to the next level.

Thanks for sharing. I’ll apply decluttering for this week and others very soon!

Comment by Tawny Press

November 22, 2008 @ 10:39 am

Very nice post. Since I read your post a few days ago, I decided to take a few suggestions and test them for myself. First, I reduced the time I spend on my networks, limiting my visits to early morning and briefly while I enjoy lunch.

De-cluttering my space. One of my biggest issues is keeping magazines, thinking I am actually going to read them all. Instead, I took a few hours, scanned each of about 80, and cut out articles of true interest. The remainder went into recycling. Now I have a folder with about 20 useful articles.

Breaking away from the computer was the best suggestion. It is amazing 30 or 60 minutes of laundry, dishes or even a walk with my dogs re-energized me. Some of my best design ideas came while walking outside with my dogs.

I use SnagIt for instructional design, but had not thought to use it for blog posts, viewing those as primarily text, which is funny to me since our industry is “visual”.

Thanks for the wonderful post.

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