What will your live have been, in the end, but the sum total of everything you spent it focusing on?Oliver Burkeman
I’ll be the first to admit that I have a lot of passions. I’ve always been this way, wanting to explore all that life has to offer. But as I get older I’m starting to see the benefit of focusing and going deep on that one true north venture that sets your soul on fire. For me, that has always been art.
In Michael Hyatt’s book “Free to Focus“, he talks about the four zones of productivity. These zones include:
- The Desire Zone (what you’re focusing on)
- The Distraction Zone
- The Disinterest Zone
- The Drudgery Zone
All the things we do in our day-to-day life fit into one of these zones and they’re based on our level of passion and proficiency. When we have both to these for a task we live in zone 1. When we have neither of these things, we live in zone 4. The goal is to have as many tasks in the desire zone as possible.
I thought about this a lot throughout my day and even created my own chart to map out the things that bring passion and proficiency and the things that don’t. Art obviously hits zone one. Social media and checking my email, fall into zone 4. So I check my email less and I only use social media one time a week.
But it’s zones 2 + 3 that are the problem children. Things that we’re good at but don’t love (3) or that we love but aren’t the best at (2). How do we filter those out when they either bring us joy or bring in revenue?
With the Spring Equinox shedding its light and energy last week I went into spring cleaning mode without even thinking about it. All day I cleaned the house, mostly because we were getting a new couched delivered to our house that week and I wanted to have the carpets cleaned before it was all set up. It was in the cleaning out of a home that held us through hibernation that I started to feel a release of my own.
Every surface was touched and brought back to life. It was warm enough to keep all the windows open to dry the now cleaned carpets, and I even burned some Palo Santo to get any unstuck energy out. By the end of the day, I could feel myself think again. I had room to breathe. Our house felt like a sanctuary once again and it made me think about how this same method could be applied to my mind and my schedule.
All the things that have built up over the winter, or years, could be wiped clean. What serves me could stay, what doesn’t could be thrown out, and the things that fit in the in-between could slowly be phased out as new and exciting things (like a couch) are brought in.
This Four Zone method was a spring cleaning of all I had going on in my life. The simple act of being aware of what tasks are taking up space and keeping me from my true north, my one big audacious goal, was an awakening. While many of the tasks are still sitting in their zones, I can start the process of outsourcing, creating boundaries, or removing the tasks altogether to regain focus and go after what I want most. I can get intentional with my time and energy again.
So my question for you is what is your big goal? What’s your true north? And what things are distracting you from getting there? Better said, what can you choose to let go of, so you can focus more of your energy on moving north?