How I planned my week like a hummingbird

Last week was especially busy, with meetings related to different areas of interest and responsibility, and hardly a moment to focus on anything. As I sat on the porch last night, first night without an outside commitment, I watched a hummingbird’s single minded attention to the feeder, and wondered if I need to adopt his attitude.

While it was satisfying to make progress on several fronts last week, ranging from work projects to responsibilities at church to homework for Blog Topics Master Class, I felt scattered and nervous. I didn’t sleep well, and I didn’t feel like I had accomplished much, even though in reality, I did. Small progress on several projects is somehow less satisfying than large progress on one project. Because I haven’t “finished” anything, I still feel like I am completely overwhelmed.

I kept thinking about that little hummingbird. The whole time I was on the porch, he kept coming back for nectar, sitting on the feeder and drinking and drinking. If I had that kind of focus, imagine the amount of progress I could make. And the difference it would make at my nonprofit and at my church.

I realized there are several principles I need to keep in mind to be more effective:

  • Focus on one project at a time, and make sure I am moving that forward.
  • Remember that multi-tasking is not an effective way to work. Working on several things means that none of them will be done well.
  • Minimize distractions. I need to clear my desk of everything but the materials for that particular project, turn off email and social media alerts and do what is necessary to signal to others that I’m busy (close the door, plug into music, etc.).
  • Keep coming back. When I get interrupted, the temptation is to move on to something else, but I need to come right back to that one project.
  • Schedule more effectively. Try not to have meetings about several different projects on the same day so my attention isn’t split.

Even being chased away by another hummingbird didn’t stop that little guy from coming back again and again. Determination and focus got the job done and got his tummy filled.

How do you narrow your focus to accomplish more?

5 thoughts on “How I planned my week like a hummingbird

  1. Actually exactly what you do Carol.

    For me, when I start the classical music, that means it’s time to focus on something. Podcasts, music with words, audiobooks…those are for the times when I am either doing completely mindless work (i.e. various reports I have to look at) or somewhat goofing off. My attention CAN be divided.

    But when the classical music goes on, that is my cue that it’s time to focus. It’s a mental trigger just like the velcro on my golf glove was my trigger to focus on the upcoming shot.

      • No music for me, not even classical. That is, when I’m focused on a financial or writing project. When I let my husband know I need the music off, he knows it’s literally quiet time for Laura.
        It’s like my brain goes into a completely different world when I’m working on those projects. Noise/music keeps me from going all in. Weird I know 🙂

        • Not weird at all – we just all have different ways of getting in “the zone” – the music kind of quiets the “noise” in my head and lets me focus better – you need the quiet. Thanks for weighing in – and good luck with your writing!

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