My One Word for 2019: Focus

Focus on what  matters.

I love the annual process of thinking about what I want for the coming year and what One Word can be an ongoing focus for me. I also enjoy sharing this activity with my family and hearing what everyone else’s words are.

This year our New Year’s Eve One Word reveal was extra fun because we were with another family, so all thirteen of us revealed our One Words.

The words, like each of us, were unique:

In the past few weeks, I spent quite a bit of time reading, taking notes, and thinking about what my word for 2019 would be.

One helpful resource was the One Word Action Plan that encourages answering these three questions:

What do I need?

What’s in my way?

What needs to go?

Here are my answers:

What I need is…
• Time to reflect, write, create (podcast, trainings), read, learn, and play.
• Good habits that maintain my physical, spiritual, and mental health.
• To be present with the people I love, listen better, and be in the moment. Create more memorable moments.
• More consistent time with good friends.
• Open space in my schedule.
• More laughter.
• More rest.

What’s in my way…
• Work time spent doing things that aren’t my “highest contribution.”
• Disorganization – working on the urgent, not important tasks.
• Social media.
• My frenetic pace/thinking/new projects.
• Too many/much of everything (books, podcasts, ideas, stuff).

What needs to go…
• Activities that aren’t bringing enough value, that take away from more worthy pursuits (checking email too often, social media, trying to figure out website widgets, etc.).
• Multi-tasking
• Distraction (in all forms!)

Helpful Books

Five books that were instrumental in my selection of my One Word were:

Deep Work: Rules for Success in a Distracted World, Cal Newport

Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day, Todd Henry

Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done, Laura Vanderkam

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg McKeown

The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact, Chip Heath & Dan Heath


My word for 2019 is FOCUS. While I considered many other words, including presence, connection, listen, diligence, and intention, FOCUS was what I landed on because I could list several ways how incorporating more focus could both improve my work efficiency as well as my ability to spend time on the people and activities I want to prioritize. Since focus is the opposite of distraction, and distraction is what I want to avoid in all areas of my life (work, relationships, health), it seemed like the right word for me.

Here is my shortlist of how I see more FOCUS being an important priority for this year.

• For my “vital few” (Essentialism), “wildly important” (Die Empty) projects, set aside weekly blocks of distraction-free time to work (Deep Work). These can vary weekly but be blocked out on Sunday/Monday when viewing my week’s schedule and tasks.

• Set up (and write down) systems/processes for each of my projects so that working on them can be streamlined or delegated to others.

• Brainstorm and incorporate routines and rituals (including a morning ritual and a work shut down ritual) that promote focus and reduce distractions.

• Prioritize rest, play, downtime, and connection/relationship time by setting an end time to my workday and focusing on these other, equally important aspects of my life.

In addition to the books I read (that I didn’t realize were all pointing me to my word), I spent additional time researching (on Pinterest–my favorite distraction!) quotes and ideas about focus.

Here are some ideas I found to help me focus:

• Turn off the phone.
• Turn off WiFi
• Use a timer (Pomodoro method is one I’ve tried before and is very effective.)
• Clear my desk
• Make a short daily list (3 items) of priorities; Create a new list only when those are complete.
• Create a vision board of top goals/priorities to refer to daily
• Exercise first
• “Do Not Disturb” sign
• Explore apps that can help (“Stay Focused” for Chrome).
• Set specific email checking times two times per day.
• Work on my most important (not most urgent) task first.
• Use my organizational tools (calendar, Basecamp, etc.)
• Outsource or automate admin and other tasks
• Continue limiting clothing, have a “uniform”
• Say “no” to projects and events that limit my ability to be with my most important people and work on my most important goals and projects.

I will continue to research and practice my One Word for 2019 – Focus! I’d love to hear if you’ve selected a word for the year and how you plan to implement your One Word! Comment or send me a message!



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