How to Make 2012 Your Year of Focus

That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex… But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains. – Steve Jobs

My New Years resolution is all about focus. I was reading a bit in the Gospel of John about Jesus being the vine and us as the branches. I think what’s so interesting about that way of talking about the relationship between the two is that it’s only in pruning the branches that they can grow. This works for you, individually. It can work for your ministry, business, website.

Focus is all about finding some of the branches in our life that we can prune back in order to focus on some of the more important and significant branches of our life. When we truly examine and take a look at what really matters, we can re-focus and enable us to grow far past where they are now.

Here are four steps to re-gaining your focus and have your best year yet! (Not in a Joel Osteen kind of way… gross)

1. Don’t multi-task. Is it really better to get a lot of things done poorly than a few things done well?  Multi-tasking doesn’t work. It only offers distraction. If you’re going to do something, do that until it’s done. Then move on. Multi-tasking is inefficient, stressful and pretty disrespectful if one of the tasks you’re doing is speaking to someone. Don’t do it.

2. Group e-mail check times to twice per day (3 times max). There is nothing that kills the momentum of a productive period of time than getting online and checking e-mail or Facebook. On my better days, I check e-mail once right when I get to the office to get back to anything urgent, once just after lunch and once more just before I leave the office. If you can group the times you check e-mail and other non-productive tasks, that opens up your day immensely to do #3.

3. Pick 2 or 3 primary tasks to do each day. This goes along with #1. At the start of the day, list everything that must be done in the next week. Then pick 2 or 3 things that you can do that day and focus on doing those. These are the things that have to get done at all costs. Your day is successful if you complete these few things.

4. Take periodic breaks and reward yourself. After you finish one of your tasks on the day, or when you get to a good break point, stand up and take a little break. Go for a walk. Re-fill the coffee. Whenever I’m out at our Gold Canyon campus working on a sermon I’ll head out to the fountain and look out at the foothills. Take a few deep breaths and just clear my head.

Get these things done each day and that will free up your afternoons and evenings not to worry about e-mail or the tasks that got left undone. But to take a walk. Go to a movie. Grill out. Take up a new hobby.

With these steps, you’ll get more done in a day or week than you ever have before. You’ll prune back the branches so that you can grow beyond your wildest imagination.

What are some things that help you focus? What are some of the things that make you procrastinate? Share them in the comments section so we can all get a wider picture at just how many things distract us from our focus.

Cheers,
Eric

My Last Post of 2011 & Words to Ring In 2012

Does it seem like this year has just flown to anyone else? It’s hard to believe there is less than 48 hours left of 2011. It’s going to be hard to say goodbye to this year, because it was such an incredibly fulfilling and wonderful year. I started blogging — a journey that has brought more conversation and insight to my life than I ever thought possible thanks to the 7 of you who read this 🙂

It’s been a great year. It’s the year I got married. It’s the year that, for the first time since I was 5, I didn’t have a first day of school. It’s the year I learned more about myself than I ever cared to thanks to experiences like my Clinical Pastoral Education and beginnings of my internship. All of these things have made 2011 an incredible year.

As we make the switch into 2012, I wanted to offer a poem/prayer for those of us still striving to find our way…

I Tremble of the Edge of a Maybe [1]

O God of beginnings
as your spirit moved
over the face of the deep
on the first day of creation,
move with me now,
in my time of beginnings,
when the air is rain-washed
the bloom is on the bush,
and the world seems fresh
and full of possibilities,
and I feel ready and full.
I tremble on the edge of a maybe,
a first time
a new thing,
a tentative start,
and the wonder of it lays its finger on my lips.
In silence, Lord,
I share now my eagerness
and my uneasiness
about this something different
I would be or do:
and I listen for your leading
to help me separate the light
from the darkness
in the change I seek to shape
and which is shaping me. Amen.

I wish you all a 2012 full of blessings and wonder. Happy New Year!

Cheers,
Eric

1 Excerpted from: Guerrillas of Grace by Ted Loder

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