‘Focusing’ is the Theme for Month 1 of My Sabbatical. Here’s How I Intend To Live It Out.

6 March 2020, Day 14 of funemployment: 

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As shared in my first funemployment post, I’m very concerned about making the most of my time during this one year.

Putting into practice the advice of my many Product Manager friends at Skyscanner, I have a rough structure to keep me disciplined.

Focus is going to be fundamental to the success of everything else.

I’ll be honest. I have a huge amount of anxiety that stems from this one year being so utterly self-directed.

No one to report to, no set routines, no deadlines…

ALL THIS FREEDOM!!!!

… is also terrifying.

Too much freedom is not good for me.

I’m passionate about all the wonders of the world and am always down to try anything new.

But that also means I’m easily distracted, very often over-stretch myself and have many unfinished projects.

if there’s one truth I’ve learned over and over again, it’s that multi-tasking for me isn’t doing many things at the same time — it’s screwing up many things at the same time.

So I’m starting with focus.

The way I’ve chosen to structure my monthly themes are as follows:

  • Resolutions to live it out daily, which will be tracked in my journal
  • Completing mini projects which contribute to the objective
  • To read books on the topic and learn from others

To ‘keep it focused’, I’ve limited it to 3 items per section.

I also have two side projects extending over the year which I’ll add in to ensure I’m progressing things.

  1. One is a ’30 before 30′ list of goals (I’m a November baby!)
  2. The second is a challenge to bake an amazingly fluffy, buttery vegan & gluten-free bread (more on this later!)

What the plan looks like:

Screenshot 2020-03-06 at 11.01.22 AM

Why these resolutions:

  1. One Thing At A Time

    When I’m writing, this means putting my phone away and working off one tab at a time.When I’m with loved ones, it means staying present.

    When I’m commuting, I try to either listen to an audiobook or do tasks off my phone, not both.

    During my running sessions, I’m also starting to experiment running without music. Mindful running has really helped me prevent injuries!

  2. Use A Timer
    Using a timer really helps me stick to doing one thing at a time!I use an online timer and set myself 90 minutes for writing posts.

    I’ve been thinking of getting a physical one from Daiso though, namely because I saw some kawaii bear-shaped ones (hehe).

    I’ve also found that starting a task before lunchtime is an excellent motivator to make sure I complete it on time.

    Nothing stands in the way of hangry Sonia.

    IMG_2978
    RAWR.
  3. Saying No To Distractions

    It’s easy to say no to things that I don’t want to do.It’s hard to say no to things that I want to do.

    This one is the hardest resolution to keep because when you’re like me and interested in just about everything, it’s hard to know what’s a distraction.

    This is why I set the limit of just three items per section because it forces me to constantly re-prioritize whenever I come across something shiny and fun.

    I initially had a list of over 10 that kept growing… and growing..

    That’s not to say I can’t be flexible and add on more things later on.

    But I’ll prioritize and make sure to get done those which align best to the theme first.

Why these mini projects:

  1. Value Sort Exercise

    This was an exercise I came across in a book called “Stop Self Sabotage” (Quite the title. More on this book later!)The basic idea is that there are several cards with various values (things like “Achievement”, “honesty”, etc) which I will then rank on a spectrum from “very important to me” to “not important to me”.

    I’m doing this mini project in my first month for self-awareness, and think it will be interesting to re-do in 6 months and see how things shift.

    Here’s a sample template available online which I’ll be trying out. It has 100 value cards to sort! Yay.

    Most others have 30 to 80. I love that it’s from the Urban India Health Institute haha. #AsianOverachievers

  2. Exercises From “Designing Your Life” Book

    Designing Your Life was recommended by a colleague and has a couple of exercises in it to start looking at issues with a designer-mindset.My biggest takeaway from the book so far has been that “if it isn’t actionable, it isn’t a problem”.

    Can I do something about x? If yes, it’s a problem worth looking into.

    Can’t do anything? Accept it as a fixed constraint, and look for other opportunities to work on.

  3. Four Zen Meditation SessionsI currently live in the Geylang area, while home to many things (like… frog-leg porridge) also has a very large Buddhist community.Several centers offer weekly zen meditation sessions for the community which I’ll be signing up for.

    I’ve been trying out meditation in small ways and have found it very helpful in calming the noise in my brain, and hope to deepen my practice.

IMG_4383
I want some Zen just like this ~

So, that’s March for me!

I’ll share my learnings as I go along and complete these.

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You may have noticed the ‘book’ section is blank for now: I’m still on the lookout for book recommendations!

If there’s anything that has helped you learn how to focus better, I’d love to hear from you!

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