Simple, focused mornings ☕

I recently came across Alex West’s blog, and was reading a post of his where he breaks down what he would like each of his days to look like.

I am fascinated by the concept of lifestyle design, and the simplicity and effectiveness it brings with it. He describes how he works from 8am to 1pm each day, before having lunch and having afternoons to do as he pleased, before a workout in the early evening.

I loved this idea of “getting a good day’s work done” before lunchtime.

It continues to be a challenge for me to focus and get things done. In fact, aside from vague memories I have of diligently working from 5-7/7.30pm each night on my school homework (after my daily glass of milk, snack, and 30mins of after-school telly), and the extrinsic motivator of not getting told off and getting good grades (I took pride in very neat handwriting, too), I don’t recall working with such focus since.

I dropped out of university after that and then I landed in recruitment, where my bad focus habits probably developed as I struggled to balance the changing, day-to-day tasks of a recruiter, and balancing the people-time with focused-work time. I spent very little of my day focusing, perhaps the very first thing and the very last thing.

At the same time, I do like a degree of freedom and flexibility, but I like to know what I’m working on to keep me on track.

I like the idea of working from 9am to 1pm, with 3x 1hr of focused work, interspersed with 15 minute ‘breaks’.

So something like:

15 mins 1hr of focused activity 15 mins 1hr of focused activity 15 mins 1hr of focused activity 15 mins

= 4 hours in total

I’d use the first 15 mins of the day to think/plan on the day ahead, and the remaining ones for a mixture of emails/social media/stretching my legs or just sitting and zoning out.

I have realised just how relaxed weak my ‘focus’ muscle has gotten. Generally, I am very easily distracted. By technology, by people, by myself… I got some good focused work done this morning, before doing a little more travel planning. I’m noticing that I’ve been on screens late at night and also sleeping late (the two are connected for sure), and I know this also affects my ability to focus.

I’m also highly sensitive, with a creative sort of brain (I’ve noticed some ADHD/bipolar traits in myself, and a previous psychiatrist initially thought I may have the latter).

However, I do believe that we can all learn to focus better, and the same goes for myself. So I’m wanting to stick with this ‘block of focused work’ in the morning, with the view to getting a good day’s work done before lunchtime.

As I’m now looking to book my 3rd trip away as a digital nomad (I prefer to call myself a “slowmad”, actually), I quite like the idea of productive mornings with the option to have free time for myself or exploring in the afternoons.

It’s interesting to note that I’ve not worked with such focus since my school days, and the extrinsic motivators of my teachers and my parents. It goes to show how the value of having some accountability, which I’m hoping my mastermind group will help provide.