Tuesday, April 9, 2013

How to Gain Focus and Achieve Your Goals

Archery Photo by Kaliyoda
Hitting Your Target

Mondays are always hard.

I noticed this over the past couple of weeks. On Mondays, I have a “trouble focusing” habit.

This week I have an excuse.

I just returned from a mini-vacation with my family thanks to my daughter’s interest in Stanford. I’m really not sure how she came to know about the college, but I thought it would be a fun excursion to check it out.

On one of the days, we visited the art gallery (one of my favorite things to do!). When we made it to the Warhol exhibit, I was more astounded by the typo on the label next to one of his photographs than the artwork itself.

I’m not saying I’m perfect. Yes, I make typos. But this was Warhol.

Anyway, on our way out, it was exciting to find the real version of The Thinker. (We have a mini “Thinker” in our living room.)

Thinking About Goals

When we got back home, I decided it was time to prime the room-in-need-of-painting-for-far-too-long.

On Monday, I was a big, achy mess. I had coffee with a friend. I tried to catch up with my poetry. I opened Pinterest to look for room decoration ideas.

And I couldn't find my way back out until bedtime.

This morning, I felt like I had a hangover. A Pinterest hangover. Not good.

How to Gain Focus

So today, Tuesday, I decided I was going to be organized.

And this is what I did to gain focus:
  1. Turned off Social Media.
  2. Made a prioritized to-do list (an editorial calendar for the day).
  3. Highlighted completed items in yellow. 
  4. After completing each item, rewarded myself with five minutes of checking email and Facebook.

Breaking Down Goals

The next item on my agenda (but not on that other list) is to complete re-writes on my work-in-progress. I have an unofficial goal of June 15 to have it done.

This is how I've broken it down:

  • I have approximately 10,000 words left to write.
  • There are about 569 words per page.
  • This breaks down into (about) 18 pages. 
  • I have 67 days left to write this.
  • This is 10 weeks.
  • Write 1 page per day or write 2 pages per week.
  • Sounds easy!

Of course, if my story wants to be longer than this, I will need more time.

However, now that I've broken it down, I can see that this is totally doable in the time-frame I've designated.

Allowing Play Time

Now that I've gotten through all of these math problems, I see that I totally have time to lose focus and play every once in a while.

And if Monday happens to be the day that I’m inclined to do so, I really don’t need to stress out about it. That is, if I can be disciplined to stick to my plan the rest of the time.

(I will keep repeating to myself, I can do it!)

So now I ask, what tricks help you achieve your goals? Because um, I can use all the help I can get.



  1. I really like how you made an editorial calendar of your day. I need to adopt this practice, as sometimes I wake up with a similar hangover but with AtoZ blog posts. Best of luck with your WIP!

    1. LOL . . . who needs alcohol when you have the Internet!
      Thanks, Sopphey!

  2. To do lists are my savior. I feel compelled to do EVERYTHING on the list! I also like how you modeled breaking down a bigger task. I don't do this well, but it's great to see how manageable something can be when you really break it down.

    1. Lists normally send me into panic mode. I'm not sure why it worked this time. Maybe because normally I put everything I need to do on my list, including household chores and child wrangling. Maybe that's the key; keeping it to my writing tasks.
      Thanks for reading!

  3. love your "hangover" - and i love warhol, too! it's smart to leave the social media and break it down. i try to do that in the summer when i have a little more time on my hands.

    1. Yeah, summertime makes me happy. Having an excuse to be off social media and not feeling guilty about it.
      Thanks for reading, Bolton! :-)

  4. I'd say you have a plan and sounds like you are working your plan.
    We all need a play day or two. I used to have a Thinker. I gave him and my praying hands to a homeless shelter for one of their rooms. Best to you!

    1. What a nice donation you gave! Yes, play days are sometimes the best recharge.
      Thanks for reading, Sabra!