The Mifl Report: January

* MIFL = Month In Focused Living

Back in January I chose a Word of The Year. Rather than setting resolutions, a Word is a handy way to set a theme and intention. I chose focus for 2013 and I’m doing regular MIFL Reports to keep me on the straight and narrow.

. . .

Is anyone else out there a bit scared of January? When I crack open a new paper diary and see all those blank pages I’m filled with a cold and morbid dread, not knowing what lies ahead. Cheery folks may think, Ooh a shiny fresh batch of days. I wonder what joys they shall bring? But I can’t help wonder what terrible cock ups I’ll make, who is going to get ill, who will shuffle off, what will go down at work, and what stupid things will I say and immediately regret? There’s a gnawing worry that everything good thus far was a fluke and this’ll be the year that it all goes tits up.

January snow
January snow

This annual ritual kicks in on January 6, when the Christmas tree comes down and it feels like nothing fun will happen ever again! It fades away approximately three weeks later, once the diary is taking shape – there’s a few appointments; maybe a travel plan or two. The stark skeleton of a new year has some flesh on its bones.

Having my nerdy Focus Plan made this year more sparkly (details here if you fancy). It reminded me that while random things happen, you can shape the overall flavour of your life. Derr.

I did great on two out of three components – the 3-2-1 Exercise plan and the Morning Pages daily writing. I did all the writing and the exercise was top notch except for one week when I was pissweak with the cold. That’s when mindful eating turned into a festival of mindless buttery Vegemite toast. In the end I was a kilo down for the month.

My mission to Focus On One Task At A Time is proving difficult. Right now, for example, I’m fighting the urge to open a new browser window and see what’s happening in the email world or go make another cup of tea. This urge pops up every time things get uncomfortable, dull or even the slightest bit difficult.

We had crazy deadlines at work last week and the To Do list was mega long. Instead of doing one task at a time I flitted between half a dozen, so everything took twice as long. Even cooking dinner can be ridiculous – I’ll be stirring away then notice the tea towels a dirty so I think, I’ll put a wash on. So I wander off to see if anything else needs washed, then I spy a magazine beside the bed and start flipping through it, then zone out for awhile before remembering the dinner.

Time to crank up the tumble dryer!
Time to crank up the tumble dryer!

Or say it’s time to get on the spinning bike. I get changed, fill the water bottle, open the laptop to put on some music and decide to take two seconds to peek at my email. Next thing an hour has passed and I’m sitting there in my exercise gear watching Golden retrievers sliding in the snow for the 27th time.

I guess it’s progress to have notice I do these things, so now I can start working on them? Hmm.

There have been some days when I got in the zone and stayed in the Word document without wandering off and it’s amazing how quickly you can get stuff done.

Getting back to that January terror. As rotten as it feels, I’m glad we can’t just put on magic Nostradamus pants and see how the year pans out. Wouldn’t that be horrible? Sure the bad stuff is going to be bad but the good stuff wouldn’t be as good if it wasn’t a surprise. Onward, brave humans!

About Shauna Reid

Ahoy there! I’m Shauna, an author, copywriter and content mentor. I love telling stories about life and helping others to tell theirs.

Find out more about me and how we can work together – I’m now booking for January 2022.

24 thoughts on “The Mifl Report: January

  1. At first I read this as the MILF report, which would be another thing altogether.

    Great post!

    Why is it so difficult to be where and when we are instead of wool gathering and flitting around getting nothing done while trying to do everything?

    Looking forward to reading your further insights on the topic!

  2. I am so bad for getting distracted when I really need to focus – it usually only works itself out when I have procrastinated for so long that I absolutely have to get it done as, on the flip side, being late completely stresses me out – you’d think I’d have learned to just stop delaying by now!

  3. You’re talking to the master of procrastination/distraction!

    I moved house last week and ended up packing everything in a day and a half because I’d spent too much time attempting to sort stuff to get rid off, but being sidetracked by old magazines, photos and diaries.

    Now I’ve moved I’m still in boxes because I keep getting – ooo shiny thing…


  4. I hear ya!! I dont just put off the bad / hard uncomfortable stuff – it took me 3 attempts to even read this cos i got distracted!! Thanks Shauna, always look forward up your posts x

  5. You are so not on your Pat Malone with the computer distractions when you’re supposed to be training. Can you move the bike to somewhere where you can use the TV & DVD player instead of the computer? There’s no email on the telly. Unless maybe you’re a serious technology geek and have the whole place wirelessly connected.

    Or just write on a hot-pink Post-it note “OY! No internet or email, get on yer bike!” and stick it to the screen. I’m fond of writing myself notes…

  6. ACK! Did you just hold a mirror up at me?! 😉
    My shrink has given me and Alaskaboy a similar focus-oriented plan.
    The words she used to get it through to me were a gardening analogy. She explained how a few weekends prior she’d been gardening and worked on a bit here and a bit there, and ooh look another bit over yonder! When she got to the end of the day, after ten solid hours of gardening, she was disheartened. All that effort, and it looked like nothing to show for it.
    So, the following weekend she worked on one section of the garden only. And WOoweee hooley dooley! All of a sudden she could see the effort paying off.
    Since we/I have been working on one thing at a time, we’re making leaps and bounds and can see the progress.
    SO much more effective and pleasing than the scatter shot method. 🙂

  7. Oh my gosh – that’s me!! Busy as so I decide to read the paper online, check Facebook, look at emails, fill in forms for kids school, drama, netball – oh check when drama & netball start – it’s not even bloody netball season!

    I think I need to focus too.

  8. “Right now, for example, I’m fighting the urge to open a new browser window and see what’s happening in the email world or go make another cup of tea. This urge pops up every time things get uncomfortable, dull or even the slightest bit difficult.”

    So so true.

  9. Google RSS reader is my dark hole of distraction – I can be on top of everything , then notice an interesting news item or blog post and get lost in the web for hours on end.

    One handy free app I came across recently which I’ve found useful for focussing the mind when I have a long to do list is 30/30. It’s a simple (and well designed) little task manager in which you plug in your to do list and the time you think each task will take and then it counts you down through each one and pings when you need to move onto the next thing.

    I populate it on the bus when I’m coming home from work to encourage me to keep moving when I get in instead of just flobbing on the sofa. Also helps you realise how much time you waste doing jobs that should take 5 mins, and discourages flitting between things.

      1. I use a similar thing for assignment writing and breaking up work/study tasks. Basically, I need someone on my ass all the time, even if it’s just a timer.

  10. I like that you said it’s progress just to notice these things. I think awareness is almost always the first step to change! 🙂

  11. Resisting the urge to flit to another tab ’cause this is way too much my issue, I will have to look up the app one of your readers mentioned EVEN THOUGH the thought of an electronic to do list beeping at me to STAY ON TASK scares me.

    Probably one of those Jillian-Michaels-if-you’re-uncomfortable-this-is-probably-the-thing-you-most-need-to-deal-with moments.

    eef. Obv., this means THANK YOU SO MUCH for sharing this ’cause it TRULY is probably #1 on the list of things I could do to improve my life. You know, nothing big…

    THANKS!!! =) (gulp)

  12. I’m curious… what’s involved in your 3-2-1 Exercise Plan? I tried to search elsewhere on your site for clues but couldn’t find any. Great post by the way… I’ve been reading your writing off and on since 2006 and you’re still just as awesome as ever! Always so insightful and never fail to put a smile on my face/make me laugh out loud and wake up the cat.

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