Did you start the year with a list of resolutions that you might or might not be making progress on? Do you succumb to the temptation to start too many projects, and find yourself discouraged and on the edge of burnout? Choosing a theme word (or words) can help you keep your focus on the things that matter most to you.
Focus on Building the Life You Want
If you’re struggling to make progress on accomplishing the things you care about, if you start lots of projects but don’t finish many, perhaps you’re feeling the effects of a lack of focus. For some of us, the biggest challenge to productivity is the temptation to chase too many rabbits. One tool that can help us sort through the options and stay focused on what really matters is to choose a theme word (or words) for the year.
These aren’t goals or objectives or resolutions, but ideas or concepts that serve as touchstones that we come back to regularly to regain our focus on what matters relative to the kind of life we’re trying to build. Often these are about who you want to be, more than what you want to do.
There are several groups that offer ideas and motivation for choosing one word for the year. You can learn more by visiting My One Word or One Word 365.
This year I followed an approach that has been popularized by Chris Brogan: choosing three words for the year. (Mine are connect, build, and simplify.) Mike Vardy at Productivityist also favors the three-words approach. Check out their posts for a little insight on how they chose their words, and how they use them to stay focused.
How Do You Choose Your Word(s)?
There’s no science to it. Give yourself time to ponder it, maybe compile a list of possibilities in your journal, check out other people’s choices–and go with your gut. It’s about finding words that resonate with you at this stage of your life. The word(s) you choose don’t have to be significant or meaningful to anybody but you. In this episode of the podcast I share a little about the process I used to choose my words, and how I use them to keep focused on what’s important to me this year.
How Can You Use Your Word(s) to Be More Productive?
- Keep them top of mind by posting them in visible places
- Schedule review times when you remind yourself why you chose them, what they mean to you
- Journal about your words–create lists of ways they can apply in your life
- Use them to develop themes for each month or quarter
- Measure opportunities against them, and be prepared to say no (or not now) to opportunities that don’t align with these touchstones
- Ask yourself regularly what actions you’ve taken (or can take) to do or be or “effectuate” your word(s)
What do you think?
Have you chosen a word (or words) for the year? Do you use another method of focusing your thoughts and energies as you build your life? Share your thoughts in the comments section below, or email me!
What productivity rules DON’T work for you? I need your input for an upcoming episode . . .
I’d love to have your help for an upcoming episode on “Productivity Rules That Don’t Work.” No matter what “they” say, nothing works for everybody all the time. I’d like to talk about the “rules” that “everybody” says we must follow. What time management or organization “rules” have you heard that just do not work for you? Please send your thoughts to me via email at email@example.com or send a voice message by clicking on the button near the top right of the website (or the “voicemail” button at the top of The Productive Woman Facebook page. Thank you for helping me make the upcoming episode really helpful to listeners!
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Belah Rose says
Love this episode. I have a theme for the day to help me stay focused on my priority in my work for that day. I like it even for a larger theme for the year or month. Thanks!
Laura McClellan says
I’m glad you enjoyed the episode, Belah. I hadn’t thought about having a theme for the day–a cool idea.