Saturday, December 31, 2016

Focus: 2016's Word of the Year

I didn't make any resolutions for 2016. Instead, I chose a theme: focus.

Image courtesy Ryan McGuire
Now that the year is over, it's time to reflect. What did "focus" mean for me? Did it help me ease out of bad habits or start good ones? Was I happier, more productive?

 What did "focus" mean for me?

First of all, the reasons I decided "focus" should be my word:

In a nutshell, I am a really awful multitasker. We all are, aren't we? My problem is that so many things are interesting and I'm not always good at prioritizing. The biggest ways I (fail to) multitask:

1. I'll be working on a blog post and need to Google something or other. But then when I go to switch tabs, I notice one that I don't remember ("What is this?") or another that I haven't really looked at yet ("I was saving that for later!") and then twenty minutes later I remember that I was writing a blog post and was originally going to just do a quick Google. The same can be said for open windows in the desktop.

2. This also happens with jewelry. I have 5000 different ideas about what I should make next or how I should promote my Etsy.

3. Beyond Etsy, "jack of all trades" is my life story. I sell jewelry; I also teach English and work as a freelance editor/proofreader. My unpaid work includes full-time Swedish language study and writing.

(Let's not get into how many books I try to read at once.)

 Did it help me ease out of bad habits or start good ones?

So yes, I can have a hard time choosing one thing over another! Did consciously trying to focus do anything to fix these problems?

1. I think the most obvious and lasting effect of "focus" is that I no longer keep 387671 different tabs open in Chromium. It's a small thing, but it's kind of important. Chromium tabs kind of represent my working memory and my "pressing issues," for lack of a better term. It's harder to get distracted when I don't have as many "what was this?" or "saving this for later" tabs open. 

The same is true for open windows. My digital workspace is now much less cluttered, which does a lot keep me on track. (It also frees up RAM, making the programs I am using run that much [okay, not much] faster.)

2. This year I decided it would be the year of chainmaille and made a point of ordering high-quality supplies and learning specific weaves that could apply to my STEM ideas. As a result, I've been able to branch out into biology with chainmaille pieces inspired by DNA and gel electrophoresis—ideas that would be impossible to do in beads, or tedious at best, and result in a look that I'm not too interested in pursuing. (Beadweaving is the first step to madness, IMHO.)

3. This is maybe the one area where "focus" fell down. I certainly devoted more time to focusing on professional development in all three of my career branches than I maybe would normally, but I didn't do as much as I could. Ideally, I should have focused on one career track and prioritized that. Or maybe not? I don't know.

Was I happier, more productive?

First of all, happier. This is the hardest question to answer, since I can't go back and relive 2016 without focus for comparison's sake. And it doesn't quite work to compare how I felt in 2016 to how I felt in 2015, since 2016 was just such an absolute fucking dumpster fire of a year.

Productivity is a little easier to tackle. I think I wasted less time than I would have otherwise. I was more diligent about noticing that I was getting sucked into Facebook or Twitter and stepping back. I read more books than I did last year, even though the last third of my year was sucked up with a full-time language course. 

Overall, I think the "word of the year" project was, at least, marginally successful for me. I'm pretty sure I know what word I'm going to use to guide my actions in 2017, but that's another post. But I'll definitely keep "focus" in mind for the new year.

Did you have a word of the year? How did it work out for you? Do you think you'll use one in 2017?


  1. I didn't pick a word of the year (I knew I wouldn't keep up with it), but I'm glad it worked for you! Even if just marginally :)