My Most Favorite Focus

Ideas for a Focused Lifestyle

Organization has a lot to do with courage and trust: courage to live more simply in order to focus on current needs, and trust that resources will exist to meet future needs.

To me, the key to being organized is to focus. Specifically, to intentionally focus on things that contribute to wellbeing in the Now. There is some element of preparation for the future that is also vital to wellbeing, but the majority of Today’s focus should be on Today.

Often, the journey to focus includes a lot of giving things away! You would be amazed to know how many todays you can brighten by donating items that don’t match your current focus, and how much day-to-day clarity you will gain.

One of the biggest things I have done to increase my focus is to make sure everything has a space where it belongs when not in use. Now, this effort is on-going, because life is on-going: there will always be additional potential projects streaming into my consciousness, and it’s my job to choose the ones that seem most relevant to my goals and situation. But, also, having a dedicated spot in my drawer for the stapler and the tape role leaves so much space in my brain for remembering and pondering other things!

A related issue: I’m the type of person who forgets my own projects if I put them under or behind some other project: if I can’t see the project, the project doesn’t exist. This means cleaning out catch-all drawers and shelves, and really thinking about the roles items play: are they supporting or supported? My current task is to clean out the collection of boxes filled with papers, notes, and notebooks that I used to have plans for but have since forgotten. Oi. So many papers. But I’m not trying to go paperless, I’m trying to go focused.

Purging the bookcase is another task that increases focus. It can be PAINFUL to think about getting rid of a book, but it’s beautiful to think about all the things I really want to do—and certain books are just as consciousness-cluttering as any other distractor can be. I went through my bookcase a couple years ago, asking myself about each book: “Can this book help me reach my goal?” Now, that doesn’t mean that every unrelated book needs to go; it just means that it is important to be mindful about books’ roles, and not let them own the reader. I’m here on earth to do things, I’m not here to curate a book collection. I let libraries and my mother take care of that lovely role.

Selectively seeking new skills. I’ve always wanted to know how to tuck-point brick, but again, I’m not here to learn everything about everything. I’m here to dream with my feet: if I want to develop my most heart-made dreams, I must stay involved in learning. It seems that my creativity stops when I pause my intake of relevant ideas. Sometimes relevance surprises me or is disguised as irrelevance. But I can’t let that make me overly careful about sifting opportunities: I’ve found that the things that are really worthwhile don’t just disappear.

Developing meaningful relationships enriches every step of daily focus. My life is brighter by virtue of the fact that I have a backdrop of caring people whom I have allowed to know me as my most authentic self. I remind myself: “Don’t cling to small-talk; it can’t help anyone.” People benefit from knowing each other, not just as social entities, but as people. Be a people, and be more inspired even in mundane things. Besides, it’s far more fun to be a people.

My Most Favorite Focus is Mark, and Us being Us. We make a happy life, problems included. We do well, solving problems together.

Now, some things that do not qualify as “organization”

I will list them individually, because I resent lists of “don’t-s” that read like lists of “do-s”:

Organization has nothing to do with always knowing where things are. Sorry, but if the ice cream is on the dresser, the car keys might be in the freezer (true story). Just because everything has a place doesn’t mean that mistakes will never happen. It’s okay to need to put things back into place.

Organization has nothing to do with having time to do more. This market is different—’diversify’ might not be the magic word if wellbeing is the priority.

Organization has nothing to do with keeping a copy of every bill since 1991—nobody’s children want to inherit beautifully tidy files. They want to inherit meaning.

Organization has nothing to do with emulating influencers. Live your own life, and be happy.

Preparation gets its due

As said, there is so much value in focusing on preparation. Personally, Future Me is always happy to find out that Past Me saved some money. And I love knowing what I will drink if the water main were to break on my street and the water supply got contaminated. But I’ve learned that most preparation comes naturally out of simplifying my focus. For one thing, I recognize needs more clearly and can respond to them more readily when there are fewer things and fewer ideas clamoring for my attention. When I am more choosey, I am more open.

There’s hope!

A word of comfort if “purging” sounds intense: I deeply value memories, and so many items do seem like the final link between cherished events and my very human memory bank. I keep treasures that keep me moving forward.

But I do not mourn the interests that I have released or temporarily set aside. I am not afraid that I will ever wake up at 3 a.m. with the thought, “If only I still had that over-sized embroidery hoop!” I choose to trust that meaningful things will always be findable, if I seek them.

If an item only holds “someday” value (as in “someday I will have time to do this project that I have been hoarding in the back of my closet for twenty years”), out it goes.

A closet full of “someday” only tends to crowd out fulfillment, today.

We should certainly count our blessings, but we should also make our blessings count.

Neal A. Maxwell

This has been a long way to say: “What do you really care about? Do that thing.”