If life was easy, they wouldn't have made a Wendy version of it, I reckon. Or so I tell myself..
Yesterday, I shared the difficulty I have had getting my attention span back this year.
Today, I am going to talk about my process for doing that...While this process worked for me, I do not claim to have a magic elixir, so buyer beware!
Okay, so once I got up off the coach and decided that
a) I wasn't going to die of exhaustion
b) I wasn't going to die of shame by quitting my job
c) feeling the death of one's last parent keenly and feeling the regret of not pursuing one's passions keenly is in fact, a normal thing, albeit something we are taught to gloss over and "suck up"
I decided that it was time to, as the song says: "pick myself up, wipe myself off, start all over again.." (As a treat I am sharing the song below, sung by a fellow Canuck who has made good):
One of the things I struggled with in the beginning was how to get the attention span back?
Well I did it through baby steps. I would set little goals for myself: i.e. I will read 5 pages of this book (this magazine, whatever it was) before I will look at anything online, look out the window, get up and fold laundry, etc. Everything had a set limit of time. For me that was the only way to do it, as I would start something, then find myself restlessly wandering around the house dabbling with this, that and the other thing. I would read a page and say "wonder what's happening on the blog?" or "I should fold laundry", etc.
Gradually, I worked up to ten pages in a sitting. Or 15 minutes of laundry folding without doing anything else. It was all about doing one task at a time and doing it well. I would not allow myself to multitask.
Once I was able to sit still for awhile and was used to doing it again, I challenged myself. For example, I read that Stephen King reads upwards of 75 books a year. He encourages writers to read as much as they write. So my goal has been to read 52 books by the end of 2013. I think I am at 41 right now.
Melissa of the wonderful blog, Shopping with M, has always inspired me with her reading lists, so I decided I needed one as well. Luckily, I found the GoodReads app, which allows you to track what you read, what you want to read and if you are interested, see others' reviews of books you might want to read. You can do it online as well via GoodReads.com.
For me, this is a fun way to keep track of it all and it has inspired me to keep going. For you - it might be 10 books, 20 books - it depends on your own personal circumstance and I can assure you, in my old job, I was lucky if I read 10 books a year.
My friend Dani BP has gotten me into a book club, and I am pretty sure I am the most nerdy member of that book club, as I get all giddy in advance, keeping notes, highlighting text. Really, I am quite the goofball about it, but they haven't kicked me out yet. I can't wait for the next selection! For those of you who want to read great books, moderated by a smart woman, this is the book club to join!
I am also a fan of reading many different types of books. So right now I am reading Dickens' David Copperfield, but I am also reading David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell, Doll Bones by Holly Black and Forever Chic, by Blogger Tish Jett. Talk about a disparate list!
I like to read literary books, nonfiction books that are "in the news", books in the genres in which I write and books that are plain fun. So the books I have on the go right now meet all of those categories!
Another thing that has helped me are simple lists. So today, I made a list of what I wanted to achieve. I do my best to get it all done, but I don't beat myself up when I am unable to. Tomorrow is another day and it doesn't help me feel good about myself when I feel I've let myself down.
I have gotten quite good about doing one thing at a time (except for cooking - I always watch TV when I am cooking!) now and it has made a HUGE difference in my ability focus and get things done. I try very hard not to leave a task midway, because it makes me feel jittery, just like the old days.
Finally, what has truly helped me is getting rid of the blackberry. Yes, I have a smartphone, but honestly, hardly anyone ever texts or emails me. I check my blog at prescribed times and I check my friend's blogs twice a day. In my old world I used to get 200-300 emails a day, a quarter of which required some action. It got to be overwhelming for me and my assistant, and despite our best efforts, it seemed impossible to control. Now the only people who text me are my kids and I love it. I feel quite peaceful without the constant vibration of a blackberry going off around the clock. Even in my old job I tried to limit the impact of the blackberry, but the reality was, I didn't create the culture in which I worked (the politicians did) and they were addicted to their blackberries and instant answers to their questions.
Not sure if any of this is helpful to anyone, but I did think it was a topic worth discussing. I would love to hear what you have done to be more focused!
Have a wonderful Tuesday and stay safe out there!