Day 658: I Blame the Full Focus Journal / Perfect Me

Talking about it with my wife over breakfast, I think the last couple of months of feeling sludgy and bad behaviour were snapback from the Full Focus Journal experiment.

I think the Full Focus thing is probably a great system for a lot of people; especially people who have a standard 9-5 day job — or at least a single main gig — that breaks into several goals and maybe a couple of side things.

But trying to use it to manage all the side things, on top of a job that I think is already top-10th percentile in terms of being busy and consuming… that was a mistake.

And I think after two months of having that system reinforcing that I felt like I was failing, I basically had a quiet freak-out in July. The slump I feel like I’m in started almost exactly when my attempts at maintaining the FFJ stopped. And I don’t think it was that I stopped using it that caused the slump. I think I had to stop using it, or flame out entirely, and I arrested that process in mid-flame-out by stopping when I did.

I don’t think it’s a bad system or a bad product. I enjoyed setting it up. I think setting goals for myself is a good thing.

I think this was an intersection of two things: one, I do too much, and two, if I set realistic goals for myself, they’re already ambitious, because I am ambitious. I’m working a job that most people, if we’re honest, couldn’t do. I’m using volunteer time to literally build a podcast network from scratch with and for no money. I’ve rebuilt a local outdoors club’s web presence and marketing structure from nothing. I’ve set up a now-on-hold side business. I’m taking challenging courses in law.

My normal is super hard, and using the Full Focus system to try to push myself even harder was a recipe for disaster.

But just using it to track what I’m already doing… I’m already good at that! I’m already doing it!

So I think I used it as an excuse, or a motivator, to succumb to my worst unhealthy push-too-hard instincts. And I think I’m clawing back from a three-month burnout that was entirely self-inflicted.

This is one of those weird moments of clarity you get periodically.

And wow: here’s a mental trick. I thought I stopped the full focus planner and burnt out on it in the first week of July. That’s when I started it. I stopped in mid-August! I lasted a month and a bit.

That’s — weird, at least, maybe worrisome? My brain rewrote the whole story to be Full Focus in June, and quitting after a family crisis in July. But I started it concurrently with the family crisis!

So today and tomorrow, I’m going to give myself some time to genuinely reflect on that experience and what I took away from it. Twelve annual goals is great. Quarterly goals are great. The daily tracking and Big Three daily is… probably not great, or needs to be scaled back to the point where they reflect a normally ambitious life, not a supernaturally ambitious one.

Maybe, given my misremembering of the whole sequence of things, starting it in the middle of a family issue was the wrong-footing. Maybe I need to roll it out and try it for another quarter, but with less crazy goals and a more realistic perspective.

Tomorrow: what does perfect me look like? Who is that guy? How do I get in touch with him and reverse engineer that guy to now? Visualization as tactic.

I’m (cough) back off therapy. It’s expensive! I want to try some other things first in terms of self-guided reflection and meditation.



Day 604: Up Early, Exercise

It’s a pain, doing something that’s supposed to be about life and improvements and having a significant impact that I can’t really talk about in this space. But there y’go. Repeating that everything is, essentially, fine — just stuff going on that’s not mine to discuss here.

Up around 4 a.m. today; busy brain and cats teaming up for the win on that one. Operation Don’t Get Up in full effect, so I didn’t actually leave bed, just laid there and ruminated. Got some good ideas out of it, so there’s something.

Back on the rower this morning; need to get on top of food logging and etc., but we’re so close to September that a fresh start is tempting.

The Full Focus planner is… dead? Waiting for a September rebirth? I think it’s time to loop back around on it and see what was working for me and what wasn’t. It was ultimately something that added, not reduced, stress in my life… frankly, I think I do too much, and having something that reinforced that I do to much on a daily basis wasn’t helpful.


Day 590: Rethinking Full Focus

After yesterday’s podcast, I jumped on the scales following a nearly month-long break and… yeesh. It was pretty dire. Like “maybe I should pull a Tom Hanks in Castaway and see if somebody can strand me on an island for a month” kinds of results.

So we’re back to that old core truth: I need to log food. I need to track things daily. And dancing around it just doesn’t work.

It’s… hm. It’s been eighteen months; more, really, since I started this. I seem to circle around the same issue.

I am a smart guy. This is indisputable. I am really goddamn intelligent. I can make websites and podcasts. I’ve written a few books (although never had the guts to try to publish them). I have a prestigious job at a top university.

But I cannot do this consistently. It’s maddening!

I know that intelligence doesn’t equal motivation. There are probably genetic triggers and what-have-you going on.

But really. I’m a smart guy. I can lick this thing. I just haven’t found the key that will keep me from sliding off doing this when I slide off doing it.


Day 563: Keepin’ On

Full Focus is going okay, but I’m definitely feeling the… administrative load? I’m committed! We’re doing this thing! The 30 or so minutes a day it’s taking, though, is cutting into other things (ironically), like the evening checklist.

It’s definitely helping with, er, focus. I’m making progress with planning this podcast’s future — some of you may have heard some news via email yesterday — and the whole Big Three thing, which I’ve flirted with before, seems to be a good organizational tactic.

It’s been a meh week for diet and exercise — started off strong, got a bit floppy earlier in the week. Not terrible, and I’m recalibrating as of today, but I think the full focus has pulled me a bit into projects and a bit off life maintenance. Not a bad thing, again, but… different.

So I’m’a wrap this up and do Full Focus, but then it’s food logging and general tracking for the rest of the day. I’m happier when I do these things — it feels aggravating and inconvenient in the moment, but genuinely better in the long term.


Day 561: Small Cat Energy

The cat was found and life is good, but that was an entire morning of frantic activity and physical/emotional drain… but, as stated, the cat is found! Life is good! Phew.

My wife, who is not incorrectly kind of annoyed by Big Dick Energy, has suggested an alternative: since we’ve been fostering and have since adopted Sir Digby Chicken Caesar, we have been impressed with his energy and enthusiasm for just about everything.

She’s been proposing Small Cat Energy as an alternative to Big Dick Energy, and I gotta say I kinda like it. Boundless enthusiasm for the new, exploration, openness to play… Small Cat Energy!

In Full Focus news, I just realized this morning that there’s this whole weekly setup thing I gotta do, so off to the races!


Day 554: Full Focus Begins

All right, the Full Focus Journal. Part of the weekend trip was to get through goals, which I did, and spent two hours (no kidding) last night setting up the planner for this quarter. Now it’s time to diligently apply it and see how it works.

I’m kind of optimistic. Again, most of the ideas in the journal are ideas I’ve kind of come up with, or things similar to them — Big Three for each day, morning/evening checklists, etc. The act of writing and reviewing goals each day is interesting.

This isn’t going to be a regular part of this project, but I’ll be checking in periodically with how it’s going. My main concern is that it’s made for salarymen — it’s really geared for people who have a job and only one job, which unrolls in a stable and predictable way. Which I’m pretty close to, but my wife is further out from with shift work. Very few of my defined goals for this year are work-related, which is interesting.

The vacation was good and restorative and has rekindled my desire to simplify things a bit. In the same way that I loop through physical and diet habits, I think I loop through mental junk. Video games, bad movies, podcasts — distractions. Having a few days of minimal screens and more time quietly reading, canoeing, etc. was very restorative.

Day 552: Canoeing, Hopefully

Hopefully I am in or close to a canoe right now. That’s one vacation thing that I didn’t get around to, largely due to a crazy heat wave here — getting out on the water. But I’ll be at a cottage today — right now, actually, as this is a scheduled post/prerecord.

I’m taking the Full Focus Planner with me, which is a thing my wife bought for both of us and we’re both pretty keen to try. It seems pretty cool. We’ve read about it and gone through the training videos — yes, it’s a scheduler that comes with an hour of instructional videos. One of the amazing things is that I’ve actually adopted, or considered, like 90% of what’s in there already.

Mainly, you’re paying for a printed, well laid out and well organized set of common sense ideas about how to organize and go about your day. It’s flawed in the premise, in that it’s made for a “work is life” lifestyle — a Monday-Friday 9-5 job is the sole focus of life, weekends can be entirely spent on relaxation, etc. It’s not really constructed for multi-job people, or people like my wife, who is a shift worker.

But that’s okay — part of the fun will be seeing how this flexes. If it doesn’t meet my needs, I’ll keep what works and work on solutions for the rest. For now, it’s just a matter of clearing the 30 minutes a day to spend on the journal, and the 3-4 hours a quarter to close a period and start a new one.