Determining Today’s Focus in your Passion Planner

Determining Today's Focus in your Passion Planner

The difference between a heroine and a robot

Sometimes I get obsessed with crossing things off my to do list (in highlighter). Pausing to reflect in my Passion Planner helps me remember the big picture, of why I care about getting things done. 

One of the features that keeps me in check is the “Today’s Focus” box at the top of each day’s column. Every night before I go to bed, I make sure to identify the next day’s “Focus”.

Determining Today's Focus in your Passion Planner

I keep changing up what I use that box for, including the following:

Most Important Task

If nothing else gets done, it’s essential that this does. Choose the most time sensitive task, or the one that will make the greatest progress. Pick something from your to do list in the Top Priority category.

The First Step

The first step towards getting the day started. What’s one small task that can build momentum to tackle a second task? Go for a walk? Let in fresh air? Have a cup of tea in the morning?

Today’s Intention

Choose a word or mood to embody during the day. Calm? Inspired? Being present?

A Tarot Reading 

I used to draw a card each morning and write it in the Focus box. These days I use the top margin for this, and to note astrological happenings.

But lately, I’ve been using this one: 

I’m most looking forward to…

What’s something lovely and productive? What is intrinsically enjoyable, not just for the satisfaction of ticking it off a to do list? 

On Saturday evening I pondered over whether my task should be to cook breakfast first thing int he morning or get out of the house to get some work done. In a lightbulb moment, I decided that my Focus would be to go out for brunch. 

I’ve been shaking up my breakfast options, and have been stuck on what to eat. Going out for brunch (isn’t that what Sundays are for?) would be research, perusing from a whole menu of options that could inspire a new daily ritual. It would also, of course, get me out of the house.

I felt the heaviness of decision lifted from me. When I’m feeling overwhelmed and tired, I’m not motivated by Getting Things Done. I am motivated by feeling happier and lighter.

P.S. If you’re purchasing your own Passion Planner, use code XANDRA10 to get a 10% discount.

3 Things to Do Instead of Multitasking

3 Things to Do Instead of Multitasking

Not a newsflash: Multitasking is bad for you. 

You know this, I know this, and yet…I can’t help myself. 

New episode of The Amazing Race? Bring on the snacks. 

Walking somewhere? Earphones in, automatically. 

I’ve decided it’s time to train my brain to focus, be patient, and do one thing at a time. 

Instead of just internally yelling at myself to focus focus focus, I’ve identified three alternatives for multitasking. Three actual, tangible tasks to bring me back to the present.

3 Things to do instead of Multitasking

1. Notice Things.

Here’s a fun game, as simple as it sounds: notice things. 

Notice your surroundings

At Oxford I remember standing outside college on Turl Street, waiting for a friend for lunch. I resisted the urge to pull out my (flip) phone, instead challenging myself to look at the buildings in front of me, follow the ivy curling up the walls. Was there always a clock there?

As an undergraduate, I kept reminding myself to drink in Oxford’s beauty with the urgency I felt as a teenage summer student, in awe of my first visit, knowing that in a few short weeks I might never return (but I did; yay). It’s the perfect place to be stressed because its scenery will hit you over the head until you finally stop to appreciate it.

Find beauty in any place

Even if you’re not in an obviously attractive place, remember that your experience is shaped by what you pay attention to. Notice the breeze. Notice the lettering on a sign you glance at every day. Notice how the leaves on the tree are different from the day before.

If you’re on a screen, notice what’s on the screen.

I’m tempted to switch tabs when I’m watching YouTube, particularly something like the Pretty Little Liars After Show, because they’re just talking. 

So I play the noticing game and analyse the ladies’ awesome outfits. I appreciate the art of their eyeshadow. I pay attention to the fun props. I make eye contact through the screen and deepen my commitment to connection. 

Stuck in a bad movie, my mind drifts to my to do list. I opt out in my mind, deciding that what’s in front of me is not worth my attention. My concentration becomes divided, trying to ignore the film in front of me [with that blasted immersive surround sound], trying to keep track of the thoughts whirling through my brain. 

I get stressed. My body gets physically tense. Better to focus on something, anything that involves engaging with what is in front of me. If the story is sour, note the costumes and set details. Pay attention to the accents and voices. The soundtrack. Play along at least peripherally. 

3 Things to Do Instead of Multitasking

2. Breathe.

All it takes is a little whisper: breathe.

Hey self? You know that thing you do all day to stay alive? Why not do it fully?

When I notice my breath, I’m surprised by how shallow and short it is, especially when I’m tense from trying to do too many things at once.

Enjoy the luxury of a lungful of air (or two). It’s free after all, and much more scrumptious than scrolling mindlessly through screens will reward you. 

This one requires credit to Kitty Cavalier for teaching me how to 💕romance my breath💕, for insisting on starting all her Vérité sessions with that dreaded deep breathing until it finally sunk in that yes this is a very good idea.

3 Things to Do Instead of Multitasking

3. Take Illustrated Notes.

Here’s one I learned from my friend [and illustrated Instagram queen] Helen – take notes and doodle at the same time – with purpose!

I’ve started watching webinars and listening to information-filled audios with pen in hand and enough paper to scribble on for days. It’s joyous fun, good practice for my dream of drawing like a Pixar artist, and my notes are so cute I can’t help but revisit them over and over.

I’m a visual person, and I find glancing at illustrated notes SO much more effective than the usual linear format.

Having a pen in hand make me more attentive and engaged. Taking illustrated notes is a perfect complement to a focused active listening session. Much better than tuning in to a podcast on the go and stopping to tap notes on my iPod in a rush – notes that I’ll probably forget to return to!

Let me know – have you been bitten by the Multitasking bug? How do you hurry it away?

P.S. Only a few spots left for my San Francisco tea party on 11 June! Will you be joining us?

An invitation to tea

Passion Planner Sizes: Compact vs Classic

Passion Planner Sizes: Compact vs Classic

What size Passion Planner is right for you?

Passion Planners come in two sizes: Compact and Classic. After using a Classic size for two years, I downsized to a Compact this year, and I adore it!

Here I break down the benefits of each, and my recommendation on where to get started.

Passion Planner Sizes: Compact vs Classic

P.S. If you’re purchasing your own Passion Planner, use code XANDRA10 to get a 10% discount.