Strange Inspirations: Past Resolutions & Tools to Help You Stay Focused Today

I just went back and read some of my past New Year's Resolutions posts and I realize, I really do not change much. My goals are still my goals. They are boring, they usually have something to do with less time online and returning to the simpler things. 

Here are my Resolutions (or "Suggestions," as I called them, for 2014). These could easily be my resolutions for this year, which the exception of #6 as "Buddy Holly" was my old golden retriever who is no longer on this planet. Of course, more walks with Buddy Holly could be a metaphor into going back into the past or listening to music.

2014 Guidelines  (aka "Resolutions") 

1)  Read more longer content, less shorter content 

     (Basically less Facebook, more book-books).

2)  Consider the opposite.  Question more.  

     Be wary of what the media and people are trying to sell me.

3)  Read email less. Write more paper letters.

4)  Always discover the beauty.

5)  Find myself on more balconies.

6)  More walks with Buddy Holly.

7)  Less work, more play, less work.

8)  ___________________________ (always include space for spontaneity)

9)  Say yes to experiences I feel would add to my life as an writer and artist.  

     Say no to things and people that don't.

I think for me the most important of these as a poet/writer/artist is #9.

Each day we have the opportunity to say yes to things that will bring good creative energy into our lives--what are those things?
We also have the ability to say no to things, yet, because of what I call "decision fatigue" or just pure exhaustion from the amount of info we get daily in our lives, we come home, flip on a switch to a laptop or the TV or an iPad and let the screens entertain us. Sometimes we end up saying "yes" to things that aren't probably the best for our creative lives, or mental health. 

When people ask me what they can do best for their creative life, I say, "Choose your one news source. Don't get sucked into other people's dramas or headlines. Guard your time with your life."

Make no doubt about it, headlines and news are here to manipulate us, sell us something, shock, steal our time. Their goal is to get you to click on a link. Each click is money in their pocket. 

If we're going to speak in the language of money, on this planet, our most important commodity is time. Like we tell our kids when they go into a store with their $10 of birthday money, "Use it wisely."

You have 15 minutes before you need to get ready to go to work, how do you want to spend your time. Yes, it's only 15 minutes, but what can you do in 15 to support your writing life, your art: 

1) Start a new poem
2) Read a poem from a book 
3) Meditate
4) Have a cup of coffee and write ideas in your journal
5) Read an interesting article about art

I am working on being mindful in my actions and making better choices with my time, and it's not always easy. I am trying to bring back my deep focus in life. I can be so distracted, so drawn into the shiny object, the quick fix, the impulse purchase, reaching for my phone when I should be reaching for a pen.

The internet is a lot like healthy eating. We can reach for the sweet quick reward (like Facebook: post a status, get a response! ZING! Dopamine hit!) or we can be more mindful of how many mini cupcakes we are shoving into our mouths. 

Because I don't trust my own willpower, I use tools  like Self-Control & Simple Blocker for Chrome, two apps that let you completely shut down websites that steal your focus. 

Because I can use lose track of the time I spend on Facebook, I have this extension "Stop Scrolling" on my Facebook page because it only lets you scroll for 5 minutes or less. AND it keeps track of how much time you use on FB. Seriously, it adds up.

Another one to hide trending stories on Facebook is Blacklist for FB. It will also hide stories on your newsfeed and posts by other that have specific words you are trying to avoid (politics, president, etc.) --You choose your words. The posts are still accessible, but they are condensed so you don't have to see them.

For my phone I use Forest App, where you can grow virtual trees (and they actually partner with Trees for the Future and plant trees in the real world based on the amount of time their app users use to focus). The negative of this is you have the app going and you get a text that doesn't come through on your laptop, you can't open the text otherwise your tree will die.

The positive of this is that I think sometimes we are too quick to grab our phones and respond to texts or the world calling us. Is it really that bad to wait 30 minutes until your tree grows to text back? I'm learning this.

The other app I love is Pocket-- which is an app for when you see an interesting article you don't have to ruin your flow or focus by reading it, you can simply save it until a time when you want to sit down and read all your saved articles. 

Technology is wonderful when it's not zapping our time. I try to use it to my advantage when I can. I know I'll still get sucked in to some sort of time waster (did you know my high-score on Tetris is 98,000?) but I find the more I care for my artistic pursuits, the less I want to eat the junk food of the internet, the more I reach for the healthy book option and the exercise of writing.

Thanks for reading. Cheers to an inspired year! 

~ Kells ________________


  1. I was briefly really excited about Pocket when I read about it here... then I remembered my YouTube watch later list, my Facebook saved list, and my lists in my email drafts of links I haven't looked up yet. I think Pocket would explode on me and be one more thing to check off my list >.>

    That being said I have never heard of Forest and downloaded it immediately. I can't wait to try it out! Maybe it will help me keep my focus after all.

    As far as resolutions go, I didn't make any this year. I keep making similar ones over and over, I keep not hitting them, and I keep feeling awful when I don't. I think I might do better if I just put more focus on, well, focusing and making time for the things important to me. But rather than making this a specific goal I'm just trying to be more conscious of it, stop saying 'later' to the things I want to do and stop saying 'yes' (when I can) to things I don't. We'll see how it goes. =)

  2. Everyone I know makes fun of me for not having a smartphone. I'm thinking, after reading this post, that maybe I ought not cave into the technology until it becomes absolutely essential. I waste enough time online as it is--without a smartphone! :D


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