Staying Focused

Daily writing is a tool I use to stay focused in my life.  Every morning I wake up before my partner, I make a cup of tea, light a candle and write for at least 10 minutes.  There is no form to this writing.  It is simply words out of my brain and onto paper.  For the longest time it was a physical journal and a pencil that kept me sane.  Recently I started writing on my computer in the mornings.  The practice helps to clear my mind of whatever is washing through it.   It is a time when I give myself complete freedom and forgiveness.  It is a release and cleansing.  It makes room for what I have to focus on for my day.  

The practice helps to clear my mind of whatever is washing through it.   It is a time when I give myself complete freedom and forgiveness.  It makes room for what I have to focus on for my day.

When I was in school to become a health coach I was introduced to the practice of Morning Pages.  Julia Cameron has taught the practice for more than two decades.  The concept is simple and opens so many doors.  She advocates three handwritten pages every morning.  I find that to be too much for me, I have other pieces of my morning ritual that I need to get to before my work day begins.  But the premise of sitting with myself and giving my brain the freedom to dump is very important to my sanity and focus.  

There are a few strategies that you can commit to, to cultivate new habits like writing.

  • Try something for 30 days.  
  • Be consistent.  
  • Block out time on your calendar. 
  • If you miss a day, it's okay.  Do it the next day.  Jump back in.  Pick up where you left off.

Give yourself the chance to really create lasting change by committing to the investment.  Because if you give yourself the month to learn the habit, then you will crave it, you will start to depend on it.  

If writing is a tool you want to use to cultivate focus in your life, sign up for Trying Something: 30 days of writing prompts.   Every morning a simple writing prompt will arrive in your inbox.    

Routine.

We all know the feeling; "If I could only get _________ done then I would feel better about myself."  For the longest time I was very hard on myself because I thought my life would be everything I dreamed it could be if only I could summon the discipline to put into practice all the things I knew would make my life better.  Going to the gym on a regular basis, eating green things at every meal, having a consistent creative practice, meditating daily, going gluten free, cutting out sugar, becoming vegetarian, and on and on.  A long list of shoulds.  These were always on my to do list but never got checked off.  I am sure you can relate to a similar struggle.  

I have procrastinated my way through many a day, organizing my schedule, filling in new calendars, logging food, and counting calories.  To no avail.  I was still frustrated, still had a no "discipline", and still felt like a complete stranger in my own body.

I am convinced that this phenomenon is more about what our culture and society tell us we need to do than what our bodies are telling us to do.  You are a smart person.  You know what your body wants and needs to be healthy.  The hard part is putting it all into play.  The hard part is making it work with life.  This is where routine helps.  

Believe it or not there are places in our lives that we have supreme control.  Sometimes it may not feel like it, but most often we can create routine and space within our lives to listen to our bodies and minds, and give them what we need to survive with grace.  

It takes some serious listening.  It takes trial and error.  You have to be willing to mess up and make mistakes.  But the reward is a built in routine that feeds you and yours with nourishing self care practice, healthy simple food that tastes fantastic, and energy to have fun and love yourself.

It is not magic.  It's routine.   

For example, I know that my job is a lot easier if I write every morning.  This writing has nothing to do with work.  It is just a brain dump.  But it truly makes my work day easier and more productive.  So I wake up early enough every day so that I can give myself half an hour of uninterrupted quiet time to write.  This is a non-negotiable for me.  I can't check email during this time, I can't scroll through instagram, or play words with friends.  I can only light a candle, sip some tea and write.  In order for me to do this I should go to bed around 9:30pm or 10pm.  

Do you see how this one thing that makes my life so much easier, starts to give structure and routine to the rest of my life?

So try it out.  What are some of your non-negotiables?  What has to get done so that you feel like a sane person, in charge of their own life rather than playing catch up all the time?

Build it into your schedule.  Write it on the calendar.  Then start to rearrange your days and your weeks so that this priority gets done.  Maybe you will have to ask for some help, we don't have to do everything ourselves, we can delegate to family and friends or hired help.  

Creating routine, begets more routine.  I write every morning, so that when my partner wakes up and is ready to go to the gym so am I.  Then we come home and have breakfast together.  This routine has together time built into it.  Has exercise built in.  It clears my head so that I am on automatic pilot.  I know when I wake up that I am going to make tea and write, and when I am done writing I am going to get dressed and go to the gym.  My mind doesn't have to think about what is next.  Which in turn creates space for creative brainstorms while I am lifting weights, or if I want to shut my brain off completely I will plug into a podcast and be entertained while I walk it out on the treadmill.  

Setting up parameters, boundaries & routines, is not about discipline, it is about freedom.