Simple Focus: The Final Days

SIMPLEfocus30 days of a simple focus has come to a close. This little experiment’s second half was as simple as the first. Who knew little changes can make such a big difference in saved time and energy?

Here’s a peek into my “diary” during the second half of the experiment:

{The first 12 days are chronicled here.}

{Day 13} I unsubscribed from all unwanted e-mails.

{Day 14} Today I pulled items from my closet I haven’t worn in at least a year. I focused on things that didn’t fit, were looking really worn, or pieces I’ve come to realize are not my style. Less clutter feels like a breath of fresh air and it’s easier to see what I have and choose what to wear for the day.

{Day 15} Sometimes e-mail chokes the life out of me, so I set a couple specific times to check it daily. This opened my eyes to the fact that e-mail will expand to fit the time you give it. Duly noted. E-mail, you will never take over my work day again.

{Day 16} My grocery list has lived on an excel spreadsheet for a while, so I’d find myself recreating it in an app or Evernote and losing items in the transfer, meaning another trip to the store. So I reformatted it and moved it into Evernote, since it’s my most frequently used tool. So far, so good. Less trips to the store and time spent wracking my brain for what I may have forgotten.

{Day 17} I set several recurring payments up to draft automatically. I work on finances weekly, so I’ll be able to catch if anything goes awry, but so far, not having to remember 73 more password combinations has been awesome.

{Day 18} My newly made-over grocery list inspired me to add my essential pantry items to it. These are the things that don’t ever make the list, but I tend to get on a monthly basis. I added a few others that will allow me extra quick, healthy meal options when we’re pressed for time but want to eat well. I also added a little space at the top for items to get if I happen to run to the store in between main trips {ie: a toiletry item we’re almost out of, a gift card for the shower invite that came in the mail, etc.}

{Day 19} Today was a little experiment of turning off my phone for the day {it was over the weekend.} It was so freeing and awesome that I’m going to do it once a week.

{Day 20} While Google Calendar does a great job of reminding me of daily and recurring items, sometimes I want to remember something at an exact time or place. The reminder app on my iPhone is way more awesome than I’d realized. You can set it to remind you on a recurring basis at a set time, when you arrive or depart a location, etc. The best part is you can use Siri to set it. Just tell her you want to set a reminder. She’ll prompt you for what it is. Want to set it at a specific time? Tell her, and she’ll double check with you before setting it. She really is like a personal assistant. Now if only she’d do my filing for me…

{Day 21} I made myself a couple of blog post checklists: things I frequently do before a post goes live, a list of info I use on a recurring basis, etc. to stop repetitive work.

{Day 22} Gmail’s new inbox set up has been helpful, but adding filters to ensure that specific e-mails get to specific tabs made it even better. I used this super easy tutorial

{Day 23} Today’s chores got split into like categories and done in batches. {ie: chores, errands, phone calls, etc.} Making a list for each category then setting a specific time goal to get each done seemed to go much faster than the usual to do list.

{Day 24} I delegated tonight’s meal to the crock pot.

{Day 25} At the beginning of the day, I took 5 minutes to look at both my work and personal to do lists and highlighted the most important items. I tried to make sure those got done first and the smaller tasks were saved for later if I had time. {Does anyone else do the easy stuff first so they can cross off more on their list?} I found that using my early morning energy to do the tough, important tasks made me feel more accomplished and the small tasks fit into the spaces left over or really didn’t matter.

{Day 26} I alphabetized my spice drawer. They’re now all laying down label-side up. Troy saw it and told me it looks like Pinterest. Does that mean I spend too much time on Pinterest?

{Day 27} Today I handed off several large pieces of a work event. I know you’ve got to delegate to become more effective, but since we’re a volunteer organization, sometimes that’s hard. Thankfully we’ve got awesome volunteers who are stepping in to help us build our capacity and help more people!

{Day 28} Have you heard of the 80/20 rule? I started reading the book {available for free online as a PDF} and considering my schedule in light of it. This could spawn a whole new simple focus experiment…

{Day 29} I spent more time today considering things I could delegate personally and for work. Troy jumped in to do some things on a project we’re working on, and I started working with some volunteers to take pieces of a big event we have coming up next spring.

{Day 30} For my final day of simple focus, I made a list of people I’ve delegated something to that I need to keep checking in on. I want to be a resource and a cheerleader for them, not dump a task in their lap and walk away.

A few other ideas for a simple focus:

  • Utlilize or another free service that categorizes your budget for you;
  • Filter all your ideas through a specific place {ie: create a physical and an electronic inbox};
  • Pre-sort socks by throwing them in a sock bag and throwing the whole thing in the laundry;
  • If you have prescriptions, set them to automatically refill;
  • Automate cleaning tasks;
  • Take daily vitamins? Get a little organizer and save time by portioning them out once a week.

As summer comes to a close and things start getting busier, what ways have you simplified {or do you plan to simplify} your life?

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  • Emily September 4, 2013 at 3:34 PM

    Omgosh!! I loved these 2 simplfy posts!! Idk how I missed the first one!! I love seeing how intentional you are being… how did you come up with things to do for all 30 days? I use mint and another app for our budget… I like mint bc it does most of the work for you, but it’s very very detailed like “coffee shops” can be its own budget and I love details but that was a little too much for me… Lol. But I liked it bc it showed us where our money was going before we set up an actual budget (we didn’t have one until last month, crazy! I know! Lol) do you use mint? Also I’m wondering about this calendar you speak of… I just use the one on my iPhone… Is their something better?! :-)

    • Caitlin Author September 5, 2013 at 7:59 AM

      Emily- yes, I came up with them. I had a few brainstormed before I started and then as thoughts came, I’d add them to my list. Toward the end I also started googling things to automate since I’d implemented a few of the items at the bottom before I started and was running out of ideas! I do use Mint- and had the same feelings as you, so now I’ve created our own, very simple budget. Is that something that would be an interesting post? As for calendars, I use Google Calendar. Do you have gmail? I have too many areas of responsibility to add them all to one calendar, so I use Google Cal to create a unique calendar for each. I can show or hide all or just a few at a time and you can add them to iCal so they show up on your phone. That might make a good post, too…let me know if you have questions or want to know more about either of those things! They help me stay sane :)

      • Emily September 7, 2013 at 6:34 PM

        I think a post about both of those things would be awesome!! I do have a gmail account :-) but have never checked out the calender before… Something to look into possibly…

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