September 14, 2016

A Deep Life

Last year, on my thirtieth birthday, I wrote about my goal/mantra for the year, which was One Thing at a Time.

This is, of course, a work in progress, but it was a really helpful way for me to frame my life this past year and to have something specific to focus on instead of trying to knock a bunch of random things off my life bucket list.  (My other goal was to learn to french braid my own hair, and I did one reasonably decent one a week after my birthday and never tried again. So I don't know if that was a win or a fail).

As my birthday approached this month (happy 31st birthday to me today!), I started reading Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. It's a really interesting book about minimizing the distractions of the world and the workplace so you can produce high-quality work, whatever that means for your career or field or life.

Although it focuses a lot on work, one of the side benefits he discusses is how much of a real life you can still have if you are able to really do great work in a smaller period of time because you aren't so scattered and wasting so much time. Instead of letting your life be frittered away by responding to emails, checking Facebook, bouncing from task to task or having no real structure for getting things done, that deep work time is highly focused, productive, and meaningful.

This spoke to me big time and helped me solidify my focus for this year.

I mentioned last week my six item to-do list and how it's revolutionized my ability to get my work done like I've never been able to before.

I've seen such a difference in the amount of work I can get done when I focus on one thing at a time and don't allow for distractions. Not only can I get a ton more done, but I feel like it's better work, I'm less stressed, and it gives me space to have free time in the evenings and weekends instead of constantly feeling behind or like I need to sneak away to my computer.

I want not only to do Deep Work but also Deep Living (this is all sounding very deep. . . ).

When we go on vacations, I want to be in vacation mode. When we're having family dinner, I want to be present there. I want to turn off the other distractions and not feel like I'm only half-present for everything.

It's all well and good to be 100% checked into my work during nap and quiet time, but work is not my biggest priority in life.

With a new baby arriving this year, I want to soak in the last months of our family of five and these three little girls, and, since this is likely our last baby, I want to make sure I don't miss those first days, weeks, and months because I'm too distracted by all the noise of other things going on in my life.

I want to be fully engaged in our homeschooling in the morning, and focus more on building new and existing relationships. I want to make sure my children feel like I'm present when they talk to me.

I want to feel like I have the space to not multi-task, to finish what I start, and to banish that skittery feeling I get all the time that I should be doing more, or checking my email again, or marking something off my to-do list.

This year, I want a little more quiet and focus in my life.

I think this is going to be a great year.


  1. How did I miss a baby announcement? CONGRATS! And happy birthday, obviously :)

  2. Happy birthday Janssen!! This is so great. I am really grateful you shared that six-item to-do list last week and this book today. These concepts have really helped me at work lately. If I have 8 hours to write a 2 hour report, I'm going to dilly-dally all day...but if I just sit down and focus on it, I can get it down remarkably well and have time to get ahead on other things. The idea of being more focused and present at home is important to me too, and I find that leaving my cell phone put away is the biggest contributing factor with that :)
    Hope you have an amazing year!! Your blog is so inspirational and I have loved following along thus far :) (PS: You are exactly one month younger than me - 31 is great so far! ;))

  3. Happy Birthday! I have to say, reading your blog is like a daily dose of inspiration [and I've been reading since you only had one child!]. When I found out I was pregnant with my first child last year, a lot of my priorities began to shift and I've really worked on being more efficient during my work times so that when he got here, I could focus more on just him - I luckily finished all my work and home obligations the week before he was born! But as I'm getting ready to head back to work [SOB!], I've started to look at being even more efficient so that I can be there for him no matter what. All this to say, thank you for continuously posting about how you try to better yourself because it always makes me stop and think on what I can do to better MY self. Enjoy your birthday!

  4. Happy Birthday! I enjoyed reading about your six item to-do list. I have started doing something similar at work, and it's helped my productivity immensely. Now I need to try it at home!

  5. Happy Birthday Janssen! It sounds like you will have a wonderful and meaningful year. What a lucky little baby to come into your home!

  6. Happy birthday and congratulations on the new baby!

  7. Happy birthday! I think that is a fantastic goal for a new year!!

  8. Happiest birthday to you!! And, Congratulations on the new baby!
    I think I should read that book, because I struggle so much with being present and not past or future. A great goal for the year!

  9. Happy Birthday. I have many of the same hopes for myself right now. My family is doing a health challenge and as part of my personal challenge I am attempting to limit social media (Facebook and Instagram) and limit the podcasts I listen to. It has already been a huge help in just allowing me to leave my phone and have more quiet time and I feel like I am more in the moment in daily living. Good luck with your deep living. If you find things that work well for you I hope you share them on the blog!

  10. I missed the baby announcement too! Congratulations!!! How exciting and wonderful xx


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