How I Focus

Multi multi multi task


A reader wrote in to me and asked me how I focus.

Here’s the thing — you don’t have to be focused to get things done. You can get a lot of things done when you’re unfocused, distracted, muscling your way through with tension and frenetic tab-switching.

I grew up watching tv while reading a novel while doing my language arts homework, and somehow I got a lot of stuff done. I multi-multi-multi-tasked my way through school, work and life, and all the while I got a ton of stuff done.

But, I wasn’t relaxed, and focusing was hard for me.

When it came down to doing things that required creative ingenuity, and especially things that required enterprising courage, it would suddenly become very hard for me to focus and very easy to just switch tabs.

Focus is relaxing. It’s finding a point of repose on the inside — and sitting there, weighted and relaxed — as you glide through productive creation on the outside.

“Insanely productive”

Recently I got an email newsletter with the subject line “How To Be Insanely Productive.” I respect this blogger — she is a hyper-multi-tasker who has done plenty of good for society in not very many years.

But, I don’t want to be insane, whether it’s productive or not.

There’s been research that suggests multi-tasking decreases productivity, while increasing cognitive load (making it harder to make good decisions, and maybe making it easier to be insane?).

I’ve felt this myself. Multi-tasking makes me crazy, and it makes me fail.

productivity multitasking graph -- enable your images and check it out!

I don’t want to be insane, and I know my best productivity comes from relaxed focus, when things are easy on the outside, quiet on the inside, and inspiration is everywhere.

Do the thing that you’re doing

Today, as I was getting ready to begin my yoga practice in the dark hours of the morning, an army of thoughts stormed my mind.

Most of those thoughts had to do with this email, and I felt myself channeling a voice that wanted to be written.


And yet, this makes sense. Creative inspiration has a soft voice, but usually speaks some good wisdom.

When I take away the noisy multitasks, my mental soundscape goes quiet. I can tune in to the subtler signals, the important intuitive stuff that’s been trying to get my attention for awhile.

“Hey, I should write that one down! Ok, Notes app, just quickly.” Phone on silent, brightness on low.

We arrive early to do opening stretches in the sensory-deprived yoga space. It’s quiet except the birds this morning, dark at 4:15 AM, no luxuries, no speech and almost no other people.

Rolf is finishing his own practice before teaching a hundred students for the next five hours, and we lay down our mats gently so as not to break the rhythm of his closing sequence.

I realized I should probably not be tapping, however silently, on my phone while also doing a stretch for my hips (which conveniently leaves my hands free to tap!). I slip it back into my bag, a little sheepish.

Do the thing that you’re doing, I remind myself, and I go back to my stretching, remembering that I’m at yoga.

My mind, a perpetual motion machine.


My ‘Get Focused’ side project

I have a question for you.

How’s your focus doing right now at home, surrounded by your job, your friends, your habits and distractions?

Mine was choking. I’d love to say I’m one of those hardcore moonlight entrepreneurs who can invent a mass-marketable time machine between 8 pm and 10 pm on weeknights, but I’m just not.

Even when I had time, I would find myself sitting, sitting, stuck.

I could get things done, but not The Thing That I Most Wanted, which was to work on this email newsletter that I love, and keep writing to infinity.

For my inspiration to bloom into full-force productivity, first I need space. Next, I need a jumpstart — exactly what I wasn’t getting in the comfortable status quo of my daily life.

I thought about checking into a hotel, or maybe renting an isolation chamber. Anything to get a little focused time to write more and figure out some basics: my newsletter’s purpose and how to make it grow.

Just a week to myself, I thought, and I’d be able to gain that critical edge.

The hotel room idea seemed somehow wrong and pretty lonesome.

So I decided to create my own solution:

  • 10 days of clean focus
  • the tropical paradise of Bali
  • yoga every morning
  • catered organic meals
  • the accountability of a small group of other smart people working on their passion projects

Join Me In Bali

the beaches and cliffs of BaliHere’s the deal:

WHAT: 10 days of creativity + productivity, yoga, organic catered meals, pool time, jungle time, and Bali.

WHEN: June 21 – July 1, 2014.

WHERE: Luxury accommodations atVilla Gaia in Ubud, Bali.

WHO: Me, you, and a handful of other smart creators, looking for some focused Passion Project time. Oh, and who aren’t afraid to relax in paradise while they’re at it.

*The group will be limited to 15 total.

>> Get more info at <<


Over-Achievers: Are You Allowed?

Life and work belong together. Work and play are soul mates.

My dream was to create 10 days of continuous, focused time — for myself and for my writing.

But that wasn’t all. I also wanted balance — yoga every morning, healthy food, unstructured alone time because I’m a grownup and like to do my own thing sometimes, and smart company to help me stay accountable.

In other words, I wanted the whole deal, the integration of things that outdated conventional thinking tells us we can’t have all at once.

And so I created it.


Does this sound like something you can do? Or maybe something that you must do?

Yes and yes! Come to Bali, come work, play, relax, and get stuff done.

The whole deal — it’s possible, and it’s here:

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