Making focus time sacred

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A few weeks ago I wrote about my working-from-home schedule. It’s not perfect. It’s better than when I was in the cubicle, for sure, but I still have a lot of tweaking/perfecting/adjusting I want to do. We’ve been reading Focus: A Simplicity Manifesto in the Age of Distraction by Leo Babauta for the January/February selection of the L&R Book Club, and I think one of my main issues with my work from home schedule is I am not sacred about my focused working time.

I allow email and Instagram and catching up to interfere with the hours I have allegedly set aside for creating. But I need to make that time sacred. Because, really … “If you’re someone who creates, in any way, focus should be important to you” (Focus page 15).

The problems focusing for me have been ….. numerous.

1) There is WAY too much that I want to do. From getting a piano and re-learning how to play so I can write a song or 2 … to writing a novel (or 3) … to growing Lemon and Raspberry and launching new mini-sites… to helping Andrew grow his record company … to traveling …. to taking care of the house… to reading for fun… to finding time to work out…. And those are all just off the top of my head. I don’t have time for all that!

2) There is WAY too much that I want to learn. The Internet is a black hole of distraction for someone like me who just wants to learn everything I can get my hands on. I have close to 20 tabs open right now. Which of course doesn’t include all the free (and paid) ebooks I have on my computer and the social media interactions I’m trying to ignore while I write this.

3) There is WAY too much of a social expectation to be available. I didn’t really want a smartphone before I got it. I didn’t want to have email everywhere I went. Now I find myself thinking, oh I can ‘work’ a little this weekend when I am out of town for fun. I feel like I’m expected to reply to every Instagram comment, not to mention commenting on blogs of friends and colleagues, keeping a Facebook and Twitter account up to date and all the email all of that entails.

Here’s my goal:

how to focus: Protect your best working houtsFind AND tooth-and-nail PROTECT my best 20 working hours.

I know when my best hours are (from when I wake up til noon or so). Which means I need to block everything that is not creative work from those hours. It’s not always possible (mostly work for Maggie or emails sneak in), but if I can do my creative work from about 6:30a to 11:30a every morning that is 25 hours of solid FOCUSed work each week. And all out of the way before the day really gets started and people make more demands on me.

I have been trying to stop doing any housework during that time (dirty dishes stare at me all the time), and I need to get better about not checking email during that time. And I need to stop caring about what I perceive to be expectations from others. I have only been posting on Instagram once every other day or so, in the last few weeks. And nothing has died or blown up as far as I know. I’ve got a few other hurdles that I need to fix/remove before I can really perfect this schedule, but as long as I know when my FOCUS time needs to be, I think I’m on the right track.

Danielle LaPorte does full focused DAYS, but I think I will work better by having hours every morning set aside. For now at least. How lovely to ignore the world 5 days a week if I could!

More resources on focusing:

Once I get that down, I need to prioritize and FOCUS on what I want that 20 hours of work to be. But that’s a whole other post for another day.

What are you doing to block off sacred FOCUS time for your creative work?

Come join the L&R Book Club for more talk about FOCUS this month!

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  • Amy January 15, 2014 at 7:21 am edit

    Good advice, I struggle with the same problems – it always feels like my brain is trying to go in about 10 different directions! It’s hard balancing a full-time office job with all that other stuff too, because invariably I’ll suddenly have a flash of inspiration/motivation to write that blog post or the next chapter of my book when I’m at work and I have to push it off to the side. And unfortunately I have the same relationship with dirty dishes…

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  • Amy T Schubert January 15, 2014 at 6:11 pm edit

    Oh it’s SO hard balancing a full-time office job with your creative work! I’m not sure that a good focus ‘schedule’ is even possible when you have someone else with demands on your time like that.

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  • Kristin - My Life as a Teacup January 15, 2014 at 8:28 am edit

    I find myself wanting too much of the same things – my “to do” lists stretch for miles, and most things are bucket list/things I want to learn/do type stuff as opposed to daily tasks that NEED done. Even still, I don’t treat my time sacred enough – what a good way to put it!

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  • Amy T Schubert January 15, 2014 at 6:12 pm edit

    I have very few things that NEED to be done …. but, obviously, I’m not just going to sit around playing with the cats. Oh, wait. Maybe I should :)

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  • Kristin January 15, 2014 at 10:03 am edit

    My 2014 is for slowing down and making a few things the best they can be. It really helps that there are other people trying to do the same things. It makes me feel like so much less of a weirdo. Especially when it comes to the not being available 24/7.

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  • Amy T Schubert January 15, 2014 at 6:13 pm edit

    YES! Me too! I need to slow down, back up, and reassess this year

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  • Hannie May 16, 2014 at 10:45 am edit

    I had an app on my phone for the Pomodoro Method but it didn’t really work while I was working in an office that banned mobile phones (unless they were work ones and things like that lol). I’m not sure when my most focus hours are – I think possibly the afternoon but I like to get out and do the errands in the morning while I can – town tends to be quieter then, I went to the post office this afternoon and there was no one in the shop when I was there so got the post sorted quickly. I think I have more opportunity to do the creative stuff at the moment but I think I need to write rest/relax time in just as much as time to complete goals and things like that.

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