Yearly Focus

Yearly Focus

Living Slower: Selecting Activities Intentionally

As I’ve spent this year thinking about living slower, one recurring theme is the selection of activities that I spend my time on. I wrote some previously about how I wanted to spend more of my life towards the extremes of either being productive or resting. The question then arises, which activities best optimize for each of those. As I start to think about how to select tasks, the first thing that stands out to me is that there are many types of activities to account for. There isn’t one single ‘productive’. For each of the different aspects of myself there are ways to be productive. Exercising is productive to the body just as conversation is productive to the relationship. But how many different aspects are there? The Aspects of A Person For about a decade I’ve been tracking how I spend my time in one week samples. Over this period I’ve

Yearly Focus

Read 26 Books: Update 3

Third quarter was not good for reading. Of the 6.5 books I should have read, I only completed 1.5. I think I hit a stretch there where I didn’t read anything for a whole month. Time to get back on the horse. To date this year I’ve read: The Omnivore’s Dilemma Death on the Nile No Country for Old Men Fluke A Scanner Darkly Managing Brand Equity The Kite Runner 7 Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness I am currently reading: Life of Pi

Yearly Focus

Summit Mt. Whitney: Complete

I did it. I stepped foot at the top of the tallest peak in the contiguous United States of America. There isn’t a ton to report here, this was a fairly uneventful challenge. Recalling back to when I decided on it, one of the main reasons I selected this hike as my challenge was because it was the least intensive item on my bucket list. Once I got a permit, and thanks to not sustaining any injuries this year, it was a fairly low risk endeavor. I considered finding ways to make it more challenging, bringing my 18 month old son along, doing it with nothing but a knife, trying to set a record – but, I stuck to my decision and kept things simple. Now all of this isn’t to say hiking the 22 mile round trip which climbs over 6k ft of elevation was easy. It was physically difficult. I was out of breath,

Yearly Focus

Read 26 Books: Update 2

I read 6.5 books in the first half of this year. Half of what I needed to be on pace, meaning I’m 6.5 books behind schedule.  To date this year I’ve read: The Omnivore’s Dilemma Death on the Nile No Country for Old Men Fluke A Scanner Darkly Managing Brand Equity I am currently reading: The Kite Runner Looking at the positive side, I’m doing pretty well at my sub-goal of reading more fiction. I wanted to split things 50/50, since I usually tend towards non-fiction. Of the 6.5 books I’ve read so far, 4.5 of those were fiction. I’ve been enjoying my selections so far. Most of them have also been made into a movie – I’ve made a habit of watching them afterwards while the book is still fresh in my mind to compare the two. Another positive, I am also doing better than last year when looking at books read as opposed to

Yearly Focus

Living Slower: Productivity & Rest

When I started thinking about rest, I had this vision in my head of a spectrum where rest was at one end and productivity was at the other. That made sense to me. You were either working hard or you were resting. I realize now that I had it wrong. Rest & productivity are two separate axis, like this. All things we can do with your time fall somewhere in this space. But before I can talk more about how we can & should spend our time, I need to define the terms. Productivity: That which fulfills your purpose or helps you get closer to it. I had a limited view of this term when I started thinking about it. I was thinking of productive as synonymous with efficient – getting a lot done – but this is in fact a huge misconception. You could be getting a lot done or be

Yearly Focus

Summit Mt. Whitney: Permit Acquired

The first hurdle I faced when planning for my 2015 challenge was getting access to attempt the hike of Mt. Whitney. Like many popular hikes, there is now a permit system in place to limit the daily travelers. This is done for the safety and enjoyment of those on the trail as well as to allow for the preservation of the location. My goal was to get a permit that let me camp overnight and hike the mountain over two days – rather than attempting it in a single long day. That allows for a more leisurely pace and more enjoyable trip. The trade off is you have to carry sleeping gear. I’ve had a good bit of experience getting permits from the U.S. Parks department and learned a few tricks. They key is to make sure you are flexible, and shoot for off-peak days when possible. Early or late

Yearly Focus

Read 26 Books: Update 1

Last year I attempted to read 24 books and finished 17. This year I decided to give it another try but upped the ante to 26. I also set the requirement that 50% had to be fiction and decided that audiobooks don’t count. One week into April and I should be done with 7 books. I’ve finished 3.5. So once again I am behind. To date this year I’ve read: The Omnivore’s Dilemma Death on the Nile No Country for Old Men I am also in the middle of reading: Fluke In the midst of failure I like to focus on the small victories. I am currently reading my third fiction book which is the total I read all last year. I’m doing much better at finding fiction I enjoy and have my next few lined up already. The most difficult part of this for me is that reading isn’t my

Yearly Focus

Living Slower: Increasing Variance

As I try to live slower this year I’m also faced with increasing pressure to get more done at work & at home. At first I thought these were opposing forces, but as I’ve been contemplating on it I no longer believe that has to be the case. When we talk about pace we often think about the mean (average). The thing that doesn’t take into account is variance – the spread between the data points that make up that average. Variance Here is a great illustration of variance that shows two cases – each with the same total & same mean. The one that is more spread out in its distribution has more variance. For me, life started to feel a bit like that dark green cluster – always moving at a similar pace. Low variance. At work I have a lot to get done, then I come home and

Yearly Focus

Living Slower: The First Hour of the Day

In 2015 I have committed myself to the theme of living slower. This involves me spending time thinking about what that means, putting it into practice and sharing my learnings. This is the first update in that theme. Good Morning The first hour of the day sets the tone for each that follows it. In seeking to live slowly, the way we approach the moments after we wake are among the most important. For many of us, our days start with a jarring introduction of the infinite. The moment after our eyes open, they turn to a glowing screen that waited patiently for us while we slept. We begin to catch up – reading emails, text messages and social updates, before we’ve gotten out of bed, and as such we dive into the day’s issues like a plunge into icy water. It is hard to find peace in the morning

Yearly Focus

2015: Goal, Theme & Challenge

For the last two years I’ve blogged about a efforts I’ve decided to take on during the new year. I’ve enjoyed this activity. It helps me strive to complete things that I think are important or interesting but more importantly it give me focus by allowing me to say ‘no’ to other things. After two years of this process I’ve learned a few things that I want to account for in my third year. This will dramatically impact how I spend my year. In 2014 I decided to train for an Ironman. That ended up being how I spent almost all of my free time. In some regards this is great because it allowed me to focus for a single year and achieve a solid result. I couldn’t have done that if I had split my time between multiple activities. But, now that I realize this, it is important for me to take