2014: focus. finish.

My words for 2014: FOCUS and FINISH.

I joked this summer that I developed child-induced attention deficit disorder because by the time maternity leave ended, I was having a TERRIBLE time completing anything I started. Even when I had time to do things, I felt scatterbrained and distracted and couldn’t focus on any one thing, ever. I’m a multi-tasker by nature and I used to be GOOD AT IT. But suddenly I was starting to unload the dishwasher, then remembering to switch the laundry, then answering an email that popped up on my phone… 2 hours later, the dishwasher was only half emptied, there was a laundry basket of unfolded clothes (okay, 2 days later, let’s be honest) and now it was time to fix lunch for the kids and nothing was DONE OMG. And when I started back to work, I was still all over the place, unable to concentrate on what I was doing. It was horrible.

Things have gotten slightly better now that we’ve been in the school/work/daycare routine for a few months and the baby is a little older and slightly less demanding. But I still have days where I feel like I’ve done nothing but STUFF yet at the end of the day, I have nothing to show for my exhaustion. The house is a disaster, I forgot to sweep the floors while nobody was napping, I never got that laundry put away, and and and… you get the idea. As a Type A, having loose ends drives me BANANAS. When I end a lot of days with things unfinished but no energy left in my tank, the frustration builds and builds until one morning when I breakdown in the kitchen and start crying into my eggs (just me? Oh okay.)

The cause of a lot of this is that I lose focus and time is wasted. Sometimes it’s my own fault. I sit down at the computer to pay bills and I see an email I should respond to, then I click a link and ooh look, something shiny and suddenly I have 12 tabs open and none of them have anything to do with my bank and maybe have a lot to do with Amazon Prime or Pinterest and now the baby’s awake, oh well, I’ll pay bills later. Sometimes it’s… well, I was going to say the kids’ fault but you know what? They’re KIDS, so I don’t want to BLAME them. They don’t do it on purpose! So instead I’ll say that sometimes it’s because I have three small kids and it can get crazy and they demand a lot of my time and it can be difficult to get anything done when I’m here alone with them. (Does that sound like an excuse? Maybe just an explanation. It’s a fact: kids are a time-suck!) So a lot of days I’ll start the morning out On The Ball, laundry going, dishes washed, everyone happy and fed and playing. By dinnertime, we’re all cranky and I’ve given up because I forgot about the five or twelve things I was doing that morning so OH HELL NEVERMIND, I’ll try again tomorrow.

So my practical part of the plan is to focus on one thing at a time when I’m able (because sometimes I have to do ALL THE THINGS AT ONCE or else our little world will implode) And even if it takes me ALL DAMN DAY to fold those laundry baskets or clean up that kitchen, I’m going to get it done. If I get interrupted to change a diaper or break up a fight or put someone down for a nap, that’s fine. The next time I have a few minutes? I’m right back to the thing I was just doing, until it’s done. And this applies to my list of weekend-y/naptime-y projects around the house. I am NOT ALLOWED TO PAINT THE POWDER ROOM UNTIL THE PANTRY CEILING IS FIXED (from a water leak 2.5years ago. ha. Whoops.) Focus, Jen. FOCUS. FINISH. Then move on. (I really really want to paint that stupid powder room.)

Going deeper though, it’s more than just focusing on tasks. It’s also about focusing on the moment, what’s happening right now. Whether it’s with the kids or with work or with Dan or even when I’m trying to do something fun just for me. Focus on NOTHING for a little bit! Just BE instead of DO. I am TERRIBLE at this. TERRIBLE. Even on vacation. It’s a constant mental struggle for me to rest my brain and not be moving to the next thing, always in a rush. A lot of my days with the kids are very rushed and frantic because that’s just how it is with getting them all ready for school and out the door, and it’s really tough to turn that off. Is there a magic button for that? That doesn’t involve heavy amounts of alcohol?

I realize this is an Ideal World kind of a plan, and life is just LIFE, and there’s always going to be boring grown-up chores and stupid crap to do and things will be interrupted. But maybe if I change my mindset and make FOCUS be the task instead of the TASK being the task, it will cut down on the mental noise in my head and at least make it SEEM like things are calmer and more organized. And perhaps if I am more efficient with my time, I’ll be able to relax more and focus on enjoying the kids and other amazing things and not feel so harried. (ha! A pipe dream! I’m about to have a TODDLER in a few months, YOU GUYS. The crazy is just beginning…)

So. 2014. Focus and finish. Maybe less on the finish and more just on the focus (okay let’s be real, I still want the finish so I can cross stuff off my list. Please? It’s a sickness.)

Rosy-cheeked after a 2.5hr nap.
Let’s focus on the fact that this guy is 9 months old already. ???!!!


  1. HereWeGoAJen

    January 7, 2014 8:34 pm

    Oh, yes yes yes. This is exactly my problem. I flit around doing a thousand things and never finishing any of them. I’ve been trying to work on that for the last few years but never this concretely. I really like your plan.

    • Jen

      January 8, 2014 9:03 am

      FLIT. Yes. This is the perfect description of my days. Wandering, flitting, unfocused, never getting anything fully accomplished. IT GIVES ME A RASH. ha

  2. Lea

    January 7, 2014 8:37 pm

    This is so very me. I am also a Type A and love accomplishing tasks, but sometimes it is so hard to focus and finish anything! My brain is always going, going, and half the time I can’t even remember to finish a thought and then poof, it’s gone! This week, I made a long list of things I have been putting off, people I need to call to make appointments, and I am forcing myself to finally get some stuff done (because yes, checking things off on a list is one of the most satisfying things around!). Good luck on your goals – you can do it!

    • Jen

      January 8, 2014 9:05 am

      Thank goodness for smart phones. My inbox is a jumble of emails with random, unintelligible subject lines like “car” and “party planning” and “diapers formula wipes”. Reminders to make calls, add things to shopping lists, etc. My brain is a scary scary place. LOL But oh how AWESOME to scratch those things off the list for good! There has to be a medical term for that or something. heh

  3. Erica

    January 8, 2014 12:12 am

    “It can be difficult to get anything done when I’m here alone with them” is like the understatiest understatement of 2014 so far. It is impooooooosssssssiiiiiiiiible. And I only have TWO. And no WORK. Anyway, I’m also a Type A. I feel you.

    • Jen

      January 8, 2014 9:07 am

      The third one pushed things OVER THE EDGE. I was handling things pretty well with just two, at least after the first 6 months or so (Audrey went from REALLY DIFFICULT to pretty easy the second half of her first year) So that lulled me into a sense of THIS IS DOABLE! and then I had another one and ha haha hahahaaaaaa! I mean, I LOVE him and I’m so happy he’s here. BUT DAMN. Definitely a growing experience for me. And Dan too, though he’s not nearly as Type A as I am. But he has to DEAL with my Type A-ness and the fallout from not being able to cope with the madness so. He suffers too, really. Poor guy. HA

  4. K

    January 8, 2014 6:11 pm

    I would like to apply your words to reading books. I miss reading. I do. But not enough to push my focus to picking up a book and finishing it. My focus is spent at work on the kids and not living in a hovel.

    I hope I can stretch it a bit further for books.

    • Jen

      January 8, 2014 7:30 pm

      oh. OH. Me too. I see all these people talking about reading 100 books in a year! or even 50. Or 30. I read… 6? I think? It takes me ages to finish a book because I only ever make time to read before bed, and of course I’m a zombie by then so I get about 3 pages in before my eyelids droop and then I’m falling asleep with my Kindle on my face. It’s terrible. I LOVE READING! And I do finish them! But it takes MONTHS sometimes. heh.

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