FOCUS on your FOCUS!


It would have been easy for me to start this first blog of the New Year returning to the posts on goal setting, encouraging students to make some New Year’s resolutions and then some strategies to stick to those.


Although this message was sent to the Senior School students this week, I hope you find it helpful too…

I want you to think about your FOCUS. Not just in the sense of how you are able to concentrate on one thing, but in the larger context of focus as it applies to your whole day, your whole term, your whole year?

Have you taken the time to figure out what it is that you should focus on?

Read on if you ever:

Feel that your energy leaks away with distractions.

Feel that at the end of the day, you haven’t achieved the most important things.

Feel that email and friends distract and frustrate you when you are trying to get something done.

I will stop there….

Author Peter Bregman suggests that to be most effective, we should only focus on 5 things (3 school or business related and 2 related to our personal lives). Instead of thinking of a whole year, for the context our school and starting a new term, I am going to suggest we look at the time frame from January until mid-March (about 2.5 months).

The shift in thinking here is to move away from taking everything that pops up in front of you and to stop and establish what your areas of focus are….and to focus on those. When distraction presents itself (often in the form as new opportunity), you (mentally) check to see if and where it fits with your areas of focus. At times, this may mean making hard decisions and learning to say no.

Opportunities can often be presented like food at an “all you can eat” buffet. Sure, there is part of your brain telling you to get your money’s worth and try everything, but if you go back again and again to the same restaurant, you may learn what dishes are your favourites and enjoy a plate and leave feeling satisfied and not ill.

So….there are many opportunities at SMUS and you are encouraged (and maybe even pushed sometimes) to get involved. Great. Engagement is one of the most important aspects of enjoying school life, being a good citizen and developing yourself as a leader. With that knowledge though, if you are feeling that the important work, the part of the day that you get energy from, where you feel you have something significant to contribute, that brings you joy….is not getting sufficient time and energy, it may be time to cut back on the buffet. Bregman leaves us with 5% of our time and energy that can go towards our distraction….but leave those tasks at 5% and don’t let them take over.

Your action items this week:

  • Determine your 2-3 school related areas of focus
  • Determine your 2-3 personal areas of focus

For example:

School #1: Course content. Homework and home study. Complete my school work on time giving me enough room to ask for help, get the work peer reviewed, study so I am prepared. Meet regularly with my ? teacher to ensure that I understand the material….do additional work if possible.

School #2: I love X class!! Focus on my AP class in order to score a 4 or a 5. This could be what I want to study in University!

School #3: Stay involved in my extra-curriculars (musical and councils….)

Personal #1: Physical activity – I want to do something physical three times a week (sports / intramurals)

Personal #2: Quality time with friends and family. Be able to have fun with friends and relax with my family. **

** One focus should not dominate the others, or sacrifice the others.

Here is a Term 2 Focus worksheet to use. Print it off and post it where you can see it. Near your computer if that is a source of distraction.

Good luck and remember to FOCUS ON YOUR FOCUS!focus


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