I’ve been going about setting my priorities all wrong.
My go-to method for getting through a to-do list is to knock off the quickest and easiest items first so I can ‘make traction’ on my list.
I’ve now learned the value of meaningful work and prioritizing the items on my daily list in order of importance to my values and goals rather than how easy they are to do.
And I can thank Shawn Blanc’s The Elements of Focus course for that clarity – thanks Shawn!
Elements of Focus? I Can Focus Just Fine.
Was exactly what I thought when I read the first few emails which came through regarding Shawn’s new intro course (designed to lead-in to the full course which is on sale now).
I can honestly say that now I’ve caught a glimpse of what Shawn is talking about, I’m eager to learn more!
The major concept which the intro course focuses on is the doing of meaningful work based on your own vision and values.
It touches on how to prioritize your work and tasks based on those values and offers tips and concepts to get your brain working around those ideas.
Rather than simply going down my to do list (or my inbox) and completing items which take the least amount of time, I now get a big picture of what I need to do and how I should prioritize those tasks. Important ones get done first and the rest get shuffled into a spot based on where they fit on my revised scale.
After using this main idea for the last week I can say it’s made a big difference on my productivity on projects and activities I value the most. Projects which have laid a bit stagnant over the last few weeks have shown meaningful progress towards completion.
I’m excited about this new found clarity on my goals and life vision and am excited to use these basic concepts going forward.
Simple Ideas Make the Biggest Impacts
Isn’t it always the simplest of things (in hindsight) that seem to make the big wheels in your head ‘click’?
It certainly is for me and there were a few concepts in Shawn’s course which really stuck with me, making an impact on my overall view of my day to day, my work and my life goals.
Here are a few of my favourites from the course.
Every evening, write a quick note to yourself outlining what you’ll do first thing the next morning.
First thing in the morning is the worst time for me in terms of getting started on something. Once I get into the groove of working, my flow gets going and I can get right into it – but starting is the hardest part.
Since Shawn is a writer for a living, he writes down the topic he will write about. Since I wake up and do Early Wake, Daily Write it also seemed like a good idea for me.
Once I make the transition to a full time artist I think I’ll adjust this to write down the name of a skill based activity I’ll do first thing. Something like line drills or value shading or perhaps colour mixing.
It’s certainly helped so far. One of the unexpected side effects is as I’m getting ready to go to bed – going about the last portion of my daily routine – I’m thinking about what I wrote down in the note and have already started processing it, getting ideas ready for the next morning.
My Early Wake, Daily Write is so much easier to get into and the ideas come out fast and furious, which is a welcome change from trying to hammer them out of my skull forcefully.
Writing Down Your Wins
I’m bad at not recognizing my accomplishments. I get so focused on the next goal or the next step I don’t give myself a pat on the back for doing good work.
In The Elements of Focus, Shawn mentions how at the end of each day you should write down at least one of your wins so you can see results from your efforts.
After a while, you can go through your notes and see just how much you’ve accomplished in any given span of time.
After using this technique for the past week it’s definitely helped me with a sense of achievement. One or two days didn’t go as planned but at the end of them I was able to sit down and write down 1-2 wins for the day – so the day’s didn’t seem so bad after all.
Different Types of Overwhelm
When I get overwhelemed it’s easy to immediately say it’s because I’m trying to do too much or things just aren’t going my way.
But I learned about a new type of overwhelm in the course – one which takes into consideration breakthroughs and change.
The analogy Shawn uses is absolutely priceless – imagine the Enterprise flying through space. Picard says “Engage!” and they start to go into warp speed. You see the ship stretching out like a rubber band and being put under quite a bit of stress, but then it snaps forward at warp speed and makes a huge leap.
The way Shawn puts it into persepctive really made me look back at periods where I had breakthroughs in my life. Each and every time was a period where I felt overwhelmed at first.
Next time I start feeling overwhelmed I’m going to take a hard look and see if I can figure out if it’s because I need to make a change (either cut back on things or rework schedules) or if it’s because I’m close to a breakthrough and I just need to keep pushing forward to achieve that jump.
Instigators of Action
The last concept which really hit home for me is the two types of action instigators – Shawn calls them the Jolt and the Mentor.
Change doesn’t come from a magical place inside of me – each period of my life where I underwent some sort of change was initiated by either a situation or a person.
The Jolt is a life situation or event which will make you snap into it (or out of it!) and make changes to your life. While the Mentor is someone who will tell you what to do. The first is a bit passive (it occurs to you) the second is active (you seek them out).
When I had my first child and changed how I looked at my career and my plans to open an agency – that was a Jolt. It woke me up with a large life event I had to take seriously.
Later on, when I realized there was no way I could rely on myself to remember all the things I needed to do to take care of a house – I found a Mentor to just tell me what to do.
In the spring of 2015, I woke up one day and knew I needed to pursue my dream of being a professional artist. The day before I was talking to my friend (a few glasses of wine may have been involved) and I realized what I was doing for a career was not my passion – I wanted to paint and be an artist.
The main concept behind the Jolt and the Mentor is the push for action. In each instance in my own life – one of these was clearly in play and caused me to take action to change my focus or goals.
What Did I Think of the Course?
For a free course leading up to his paid offerring – The Elements of Focus was definitely worth the time and attention I gave to it.
Not only did Shawn give me useful, actionable advice and concepts to apply to my life but he did it in a down to earth and meaningful way.
In most other productivity courses or products I’ve purchased – they’ve focused on one thing. They’ll cover how to be more productive at work but didn’t really apply to other areas of my life. I had a really hard time making them work or fit with my unique circumstances.
Since my life is so varied – I switch back and forth from work to home to family to creativity multiple times per day – it’s hard to find techniques and concepts which apply to my life as a whole rather than one aspect of it.
Shawn’s course really did find a great balance – I was able to easily see how his ideas could fit into all areas of my life and by addressing the underlying issues of productivity and focus, he’s really nailed it.
At the end of the free lead up course I was absolutely convinced of the value the full Focus Course could offer me and am eager to enroll in it later this year when finances are a bit more flexible.
If focus is something you feel you need to work on or have made a resolution or goal this year to get better at balancing your life and doing meaningful work than I highly suggest you should go check it out right now!
Also – if you’re lucky you’ll be able to get it at a reduced price while he’s offering his launch promo for the first week of January.
Have you taken part in any courses or learning materials that really resonated with you? Can you suggest any other authors or resources for increasing your personal commitment to your goals? I’d love to hear more about them – please leave me a comment and we can chat about them!
* Note – this is a completely unsolicited, upaid and unaffiliated review of The Elements of Focus Course by Shawn Blanc. Sometimes things just really grab my attention and wow me with their quality and value. I feel I’m obligated to pass them on to the people I care about 🙂