Written by: Kylie Mort, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Perchance I received a surreal opportunity in February of 2020. Perchance, just when I needed to “find the time” to work on the business instead of working in the business that demand was satisfied, and in the most extraordinarily unthinkable way. It was Marylin Monroe who said, “Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” And so it would be, just one short month later, my world would never be the same again.
“Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it.” – Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love.
Get on a plane.
It was my publisher, and she had arranged for me to spend the week at a women’s only retreat, all expenses paid on my arrival in Fiji. I called my husband and let him know of the fantastical idea and the fact I had turned it down. He asked why, and I realized I was using every excuse I could to justify my inaction, fear, and imposter syndrome. So, in less than 24 hours, I was on a plane. Little did I know just how auspicious this remarkable turn of events would become.
I now sheepishly admit I had no idea who Elizabeth Gilbert was at the time but by the hushed tones and whispered reverence, I realized she must be more than just the writer booked for the keynote. It’s a funny thing that happens when you put over one hundred women on a remote tropical island for a week and give every one of them permission to be their best selves. It is even more powerful when you do this with a featured workshop by one of the most unassuming, kindly authors on the planet. To say it was life-changing would sound trite, yet how to explain the impact?
I felt a veil had been lifted from my eyes, and I was suddenly privy to the stark reality I had confused with purpose. The breakthrough I needed was so unpretentious, yet perhaps only comprehensible to my work-harried mind due to the serenity surrounding it.
Elizabeth Gilbert telling me I only have room in my mind and heart for five priorities and that I should simply write them down and focus on them. So, I did. I stared with dismay at the list of the five most neglected, overlooked, and postponed elements of my life, that just so happened to be the five most critically important parts to my soul, and wondered how I could possibly have blundered so blindly to this point.
The companies, the staff, the visions to grow and leverage, and mission statements work harder at detailed objectives. All the while, my actual real tangible life put on hold, something that I would get around to someday, when I could find time away from the office. The vision was honorable; the mission was strategic and practical… yet all the while, the focus was wrong.
Life is not lived to strive stoically every day, feeling unsatisfied at day’s end that you could have helped just one more person if you’d just given more of yourself. Life is about feeling gratified each day, knowing that you are giving all you can to be your best self and uplift and inspire the world with your example.
But how to find the time for this epiphany? How to unplug oneself from the colossal grinding machine without the cogs spinning wildly out of control and the entire built-purpose screeching and stalling with outrage? In the lack of the unique serendipity provided by uncontrollable outside forces, one must find the inner resolve to take the wheel and navigate a new path.
“Lydia, my love, ring the bell. I must speak to Hill this moment.” Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
The world has come such a long way since servants and butlers waited dutifully at a whim. From the bell pull, to the electronic bell and the intercom, to the countless internet-based options of our era, getting the attention of those who serve your needs continues to develop at a rapid pace.
Yet ‘no man is an island,’ and it is not just the intrusive alerts of unwanted attention that we respond to. There are compulsive addictions linked to social media notifications among many in the screen-obsessed world we now populate, and it begs the question, when is being available too available? Where do we draw the line?
The inspiration behind my ability to focus on my five key priorities comes from Tim Ferris’ “The 4 Hour Work Week” with his suggestion to “batch” check your emails. His incredible guide to all things entrepreneurial led me to turn off all such notifications on my smartphone as the only way to take back control truly is to control your focus.
Needless to say, there have been many studies that have concluded that multitasking is a myth. Those who are ‘successful’ or ‘proficient’ at multi-tasking are simply those who are very adept at switching their focus quickly between various tasks…repeatedly…for long periods of time...email, phone call, client, staff, door, email, phone call…social media (insert falling down the rabbit hole here)…you get the picture. And what time of day does this begin? The sad truth is for many, as soon as we open our eyes.
Further to this, what if you check your emails over your morning coffee, and there is an intrusion so profound your mind just cannot put it down? How well will you focus on your family over breakfast? Your morning meditation? Your first meeting? By checking that inauspicious email, you have now destroyed your ability to focus consistently and effectively on anything else until it is resolved. Your mind so efficiently designed to solve problems will be fixated and resolute on finding the solution. Which begs the question, was it worth it? Is it actually the most important priority in your world? Influencing one of your top five? Would you have scheduled it in right then to take over your morning? If the answers are no, it is very easy to prevent the consequences.
For many of us who have grown so accustomed to communications' constant barrage, the deafening silence is difficult to adjust to. Your morning coffee can be accompanied by appreciation of your surroundings, your breakfast by loving conversation with family. It is a difficult adjustment for the work-addict to be sure. Yet what I found truly astounding was how much more productive I could be through “batch” checking, finding time to complete tasks that had languished on the to-do-list for embarrassingly long periods of time in a matter of days. And all with so much more candor and satisfaction.
My advice? Turn off your notifications. For everything. If you are consciously and autonomously scheduling where your focus is to be placed throughout your entire day, not only will your efficiency increase exponentially, you will also feel so much more accomplished and successful at the end of each day. No more wondering where the hours went - you know exactly where they were spent as you choose where to put them. And thus, the two questions to awaken your awareness:
1. Where are your priorities?
What and who do you care about the most? Name your top five priorities in life and focus on these things exclusively. Ask yourself, is what I am doing right now assisting a priority? If we give our all to everything, we end up with nothing to give to anybody. Find your focus.
2. What or who controls your focus?
Worry comes from the old English ‘wyrgan,’ which means ‘strangle.’ Many of us feel the overwhelming stranglehold of commitments that are simply out of control. The world seems to spin a little faster when we are frantically putting out spot fires and acquiescing the requests of all and sundry. Who’s priorities are you serving, and why? Where is your focus? What are you worrying about?
Is it serving you or strangling you?
Kylie Mort, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Kylie Mort works with individuals of all ages to embrace and support the Academic Mind, Self-Awareness & the Mind-Body Connection. Assisting individuals by tailoring bespoke mentoring packages supporting academic, physical, and personal advancement and success.
Kylie is an International Author and Writer for Global Magazines, writing both academically and creatively to connect with those who seek guidance and inspiration to be their best selves. A former Secondary School Teacher & VCE Leader with 20 years of teaching experience, Kylie is a qualified & registered: School Teacher, Yoga Teacher & Performance Coach. She is also an entrepreneur, leading multiple-award-winning companies.
She is currently studying Psychological Science at Deakin University to provide holistic mentoring to her clients better, having spent decades honing her skills in face-to-face teaching, mentoring, and business & company development. Now, she is focused on the human mind and its power to empower through reimaging, redesigning, and recreating.